book review, horror

Sole Survivor by Zachary Ashford

You better watch the trees, because drop bears are real, and they’re coming to get you.

After their plane crashes, a group of reality show contestants are stranded on a beautiful uninhabited island. However, they happen to have stumbled upon the home of a species of large, carnivorous, koala like marsupials, and these drop bears are happy to have something other than fish to eat.

Crude, gory and pure fun from the first page to the last, the seventh book in Unnerving Magazine’s Rewind or Die series is a beauty.

I think I should come clean and explain that I was raised on a diet of Australian television, which has fostered a love for the continent, its inhabitants and its animals. So, when I saw a tweet mentioning a book about drop bears, I knew I had to read it.

If you’ve never heard of them before, drop bears are a tall tale Australians warn tourists about. They’re a large, koala like creature that will drop on you from the branches and gouge your eyes out. It must be fun when someone falls for it and keeps watching the trees!

The cast of characters is remarkably sympathetic, especially for reality show contestants. They each stood out in their own way, with my favorites being Robin, who wants to prove she’s as hard as any of the men, goof ball Dustin, and army trained Johnny.

Despite lots of humor, there is still plenty of tension, and a surprisingly effective homage to Golding’s Lord of the Flies. While the title gives a lot away, I was hoping that more characters would make it to the finish line in one piece.

Snaps to Ashford for giving the drop bears enough detail to make them a somewhat believable animal, and I love that he even gives a reason for their killing spree, which is seldom done in animal gone wild horrors.

I really want this book to be made into a six part tv series. I think the Jungleboys (Australian production company) would be able to bring the right mix of comedy and drama to the screen, and my dream casting would give Patrick Brammall the role of Johnny Slaughter. I want this to happen so much it hurts!

Surprisingly, the part I found hardest to accept was the mechanics of the reality tv show. However, Ashford creates a scenario that is consistent in its own world, even if not realistically plausible, so I was able to go with it.

My only other quibble that stops me from rating it higher is the crudity. While it adds to the charm of the book at times, and does supply much of the humor, there were certain instances where I wish the author hadn’t gone into quite so much detail.

I award Sole Survivor

Sole Survivor is available for $3.82 ebook and $11.49 print book on Amazon.

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