If ever a book begged for a review in the final issue of 2020, Brock Adams’ “Apocalypse Yesterday” does. It’s perhaps the most underrated book of 2020, and also offers the perfect allegory for the year.
Welcome to Spanish Shanty, Florida, after the zombie apocalypse. Meet Rip, who kept the zombies at bay from his water-ringed perch at the Lazy River Waterpark. Find out what happens after humans best the zombies in the apocalypse.
Our hero, Rip, finds himself working back at a Florida call center – we can safely assume Amazon or something like it – where he craves the excitement of killing zombies but instead finds himself responding to customer complaints about potato chips, often lacking the sincerity his manager wants (and making this book one that you probably don’t want your 8-year-old to read.) As the story juxtaposes present-day, post-zombie-killing life with “back then” (during the zombie apocalypse), Adams offers stunning commentary about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether or not he intended this book as pandemic commentary remains unclear – Publisher’s Weekly suggested in its review that yes, Adams intended this as commentary – but Adams doesn’t write a book a year a la Tim Dorsey. More likely is that he had the manuscript ready to go and tweaked it to make it significant for 2020.
Nevertheless, parallels remain, especially in discussing the way communities remember their handling of the pandemic apocalypse. Rip laughs at the local mayor’s statement that everyone pulled together; he recalls infighting and people who didn’t believe the zombies were real. No one pulled together, Rip remembers. They said they did later, but they didn’t. You can’t help but read that and wonder if, in 20 years, history books will describe the COVID-19 pandemic with more unity than anyone can point to today.
Adams story also tells of the good that came of the apocalypse, and how quickly it disappeared once the threat did, too, calling to mind the countless news stories we read of nesting birds returning to beaches and the planet healing while we stayed inside… and how it won’t last once we’re free to move about the country.
Pandemics and zombies aside, Adams penned a funny, thoughtful look at how Floridians – and Americans – handle a global crisis. If you love reading about zombies, you’ve likely already found this book. If you enjoy the tragicomic, you’ll appreciate his fantastical depiction of Anderson Cooper’s courageous demise.
It’s an easy, sharp read, but, unlike 2020, the book’s most glaring flaw is how it ends: without sufficient resolution.
We’ll leave you to it to discover what that means.