Description Three years have passed since the Jamaicans caused the apocalypse, and things in post-Armageddon Chicago have settled into a new kind of normal. Unfortunately, that "normal" includes collapsing skyscrapers, bands of bloodthirsty maniacs, and a dwindling cache of survival supplies. After watching his family, friends, and most of the non-sadistic elements of society crumble around him, Patrick decides it's time to cross one last item off his bucket list. He's going to Disney World.
This hilarious, heartfelt, gut-wrenching odyssey through post-apocalyptic America is a pilgrimage peppered with peril, as fellow survivors Patrick and Ben encounter a slew of odd characters, from zombie politicians and deranged survivalists to a milky-eyed oracle who doesn't have a lot of good news. Plus, it looks like Patrick may be hiding the real reason for their mission to the Magic Kingdom.
A post-apocalyptic road trip to the happiest place on earth
So for about the past half-century, Jamaica has been funnelling tourist dollars into a secret chemical weapons program, with the ultimate aim of destroying the world. Or at least the USA, but I got the impression throughout the book though the rest of world had mostly been wiped out too. So naturally when they attack it comes as a complete surprise (like being mugged by Canada I guess) and most of the world dies.
Patrick and Ben are two wise-cracking (think Gilmore Girls type banter) who have survived and are trying to make the most of their post-apocalyptic life. We join them after a few years have passed as they’re preparing to leave Chicago on a pilgrimage south to Disney World in Florida. Initially it seems like a random destination, but little clues fed to us in the beginning and then throughout speak to the true nature of the trip.
Along the way they face an array of insane individuals, all twisted in their own unique way by the apocalypse. Gangs who have taken over bridges and demand tolls paid in whatever you’ve got (food, weapons, booze, drugs), a mad Amtrak conductor and his lackeys, almost indestructible zombie-ish type people, cults of religious nutbags, and one especially creepy household that haven’t noticed the apocalypse has come.
For some reason most of the people who survived were either psychopaths or otherwise deranged, or have become so since. Probably one of my favourite moments involved a buffalo they adopt along the way that possesses mad ninja-like skills. Either way it makes for an interesting journey.
There’s a side story where they’re being stalked across the country by some of the train lackeys they managed to piss off. I get these guys were psycho’s and hell bent on revenge, however I could have lived without how their plans involved raping basically everyone they came across, including children. Felt out of place given the rest of the novel’s humorous bent.
Initially I found the dialogue hard to get on board with. Witty banter is fine, but it seemed like that was the only way these guy could communicate with anyone. It settled down a bit as the book progressed so no real points lost there.
At first I thought Patrick’s nihilistic behaviour and general attitude towards life seemed in contradiction of his desire to get to Disney World, but looking back on it ultimately it makes sense. His character runs a lot deeper than first appears, and I found that most apparent in retrospect.
The big payoff for this novel is the ending, and I am so glad I came back to finish it. A poignant moment that made me wish I had “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds playing in the background as I read it.
I did notice there is now a follow up "Post-Apocalypticon" but I'm not sure if I'll be in any hurry to listen to it.
From a narration standpoint, I didn't mind Patrick Lawlor's rendition. I'm not sure if given the choice he would have been my pick... I think it needed someone who could nail the timing of the dialogue better, rather than what felt like just someone reading the story without putting in the extra effort.