January 31, 2011

Review: Down the Road by Bowie Ibarra

Down the Road
Author: Bowie Ibarra
Publisher: Gallery Books
ISBN: 1439180695
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher

For more information please visit Bowie Ibarra's website.

Around the globe, the dead are rising to devour the living. Hospitals are overrun, and martial law has been declared. The streets are in chaos. Society is disintegrating.

George Zaragosa is a young schoolteacher living in the shadow of his fiancĂ©e’s unsolved murder. Now he just wants to go home to his family. He has made the journey before, traveling from Austin to San Uvalde. It is usually a short drive, but he knows this time is going to be different.

Along the way, George must negotiate military roadblocks, FEMA camps, and street thugs, not to mention hordes of the living dead. He is determined to make it home, but only one thing is certain: his trip down the road will be a journey like no other.


Down the Road by Bowie Ibarra was a thrilling fight for survival and absolutely one of the best zombie novels that I have had the pleasure of reading. Filled with blood, gore, violence and the inevitable journey through the collapse of both humanity and society, this novel delivers to fans of zombie horror like no other.

The world Ibarra created is a devastating and frightening mirror to our own allowing us to easily slip into George's situation. This easy accessibility paired with wonderful characterization helps to make the situations and emotions experienced by him and the other survivors he encounters more relatable, thus helping to allow the struggle and slow dehumanization of society to resonate within the reader.  From the onset, the downfall of the world and civilization is nicely introduced to readers bringing to life the devastating situation the world comes to find itself in. This quick yet easily followed introduction sets a nice tone and the chronicling of George's journey through the world as the downward spiral continues creates a wonderful decaying atmosphere ripe with desolation and the ever growing sense of conflict. The acute sense of purpose residing in George and the detailed descriptions of his struggle for survival help to portray the collapse of civilization. I think what really helped draw me into this novel was the sense of disbelief within the first few chapters. The reality of society's end hasn't quite struck the main character as he takes foolish risks underestimating the zombies' threat. As the plot advances, not only are the zombies a threat, but the government which is tasked with protecting civilians becomes one as well. The heavy handed nature of 'Government knows best' adds an atmosphere ripe with distrust and frustration in an already horrifically maddening world.

The characterization of George is nicely done as we follow him through the initial stages of disbelief to the slow yet eventual chipping away of his humanity. The characters himself, while not overly emotional does have some empathic appeal based on the dismissed murder of his fiance Esperanza. His sense of loss is evident, and yet I liked that he didn't let his grief over take him. Instead, he feels the loss, but isn't ruled by it keeping his head as the world crumbles around him. He ends up showing a resourceful, strong and resilient nature that really appealed to me as we followed his slow progress across Texas. Slowly, the underlying violence inherent within him comes out as his need for survival increases. The loss of empathy and the quicker rush to violence is wonderfully described and mirrored within the world George is thrust into. The voice George is given is also quite insightful into both the situations he comes to find himself in and the de-evolution of his character. This voice helps to keep the sense of purpose in the forefront as well as keeping readers focused on the necessity of his journey as his 'need' for home drives him across the great state of Texas to his ultimate destination.

The cinematic quality of this novel helps to keep the pace moving, making this an extremely quick read. In truth, I could see this novel unfolding in my mind as if I were watching it on film. This was something that I greatly enjoyed about this book because there was a slight immediacy to it, while not making the reader feel burdened by the disasters that befall George. It gives a sense of distance separating the reader from the horror leaving them free to relish in it, which isn't that the great thing about zombie movies? You can watch it with a sense of detachment and even enjoying the eventual slaughter of humanity. It's sick, yet so true! Also, what absolutely made me fall in love with Ibarra's writing was that he doesn't shy away from the hard ending, because really, who wants to have the 'happily ever after' when horror is involved? And yet, despite the ending, which I thought was perfect, I loved the sense of closure to the novel. It doesn't leave you hanging with unaddressed plot lines, instead having a somewhat ironic closure that ties up everything fairly neatly.

In the end, I highly recommend this novel to all you zombie lovers out there. With highly enjoyable story telling this was one hell of a ride! I can't wait to see what Ibarra throws at us next!

My Rating: 4 out 5 Scars

Advisory: Some sexual content and graphic horror related violence


Vamchoir said...

I love zombie novels ... I've made a personal commitment to read vampire novels for a while (thanks to my blog) and yet this feels like such a tempting distraction. :-)

Wenj said...

If you love zombies then I say take a quick break from vamps because this was a really good read. Though....giving up vampires even for a day can be kinda tough! *g*

SheReads said...

So you think it's perfectly normal for a grieving man to delay his escape from the city in order to retrieve a locket that was once owned by his deceased fiance, and while at the school where he had it stashed in his desk he then has sex with a coworker in a room full of dead bodies? (Immediately after vomiting I might add!) How noble!

The main character, George Zaragoza is a theatre arts teacher. Hmmmm, so was the author Bowie Ibarra. George Zaragoza is almost superhuman when dealing with the gangsters who killed his fiance. His fighting ability a little over the top.

My opinion is this book is really the sexual and fantasy life that the author wished he lived. A Gary Stu of the highest order! I would only give it 2 out of 5 scars.

Wenj said...

I personally knew lots of band members and theatre majors who were quiet fluent in marshal arts and other fighting skills. So do I find it odd the he was capable of fending for himself? No. Am I surprised by a high school teacher being fluent with firearms in Texas? Not at all. Were his sexual reactions to situation so far fetched? Again, considering the end of the world scenario playing out within the novel, not really.

And honstely, as far as a grieving man goes I'm not shocked by anything they do. Some people handle grief differently from others and I have known a few who do fill the void of their loss with inapropriate amounts of sex and despite my thoughts or opinions, if that's how they cope then I don't open my mouth about it.

So what it all comes down to is yes, I still found him noble in his efforts despite or maybe because of his very flawed actions and frankly I really enjoyed the book and look forward to more by this author.

Anonymous said...

I promise you Bowie knows his martial arts. Just read his other great book Pit Fighter. He knows his stuff.


Anonymous said...

This book is not very good. I actually asked for my money back from amazon. This reviewer must be on drugs.