Verdict: THE ROBUSTA INCIDENT is a unique take on the horror of a zombie apocalypse with the terror of the plot set against the antics of the characters.
Howard Danishefsky has a genius level IQ. His absent father, Archibald, is an astrophysicist and a member of the Consortium of Evil. Despite his mundane job as a chemist at The Robusta Corporation, Howard aspires to follow in his father’s footsteps. Unfortunately, his aspirations are thwarted by his boss and former lover, Melinda Carpenter, who is planning to terminate him from the corporate rolls. Howard’s response is to create a serum that will turn the staff of Robusta into a zombie army that he could control and ultimately use to gain access to the Consortium of Evil. As he proceeds with his plan, he is beset by the nagging voice of his deceased mother, the specter of a dead corpse, a mysterious professor and, for good measure, a Voodoo Queen. When he loses control of his zombie army, Howard needs to extricate himself from their clutches as well as reevaluate his life choices.
THE ROBUSTA INCIDENT is a very different take on a zombie apocalypse. Its characters have a warped sense of humor and its monsters exhibit terrifying behavior one minute and slapstick behavior the next. The plot is somewhere between Mary Shelly and Mel Brooks. Author Jennifer Fales takes these unusual dichotomies and fashions a horror story quite different from others.
There are several literary devices one expects to find in a work of horror, but humor is not usually one of them. The author keeps the plot moving apace with Howards cynical comments interspersed with his mother’s hilarious criticism. Minor characters like his neighbor Manny the Tranny and Thurgood Walton, his CEO, appear briefly and add a strong dose of comedic bathos to the story line. Howard’s borderline sociopathy is nested squarely in his alcoholism. His description of dive bars that he visits contrasts with the details of his post visit hangovers. The actions of the zombies are far from a boilerplate description of the walking dead. Although every bit as deadly, their flailings and attempts to capture Howard are unique. Though the hijinks and horror grow quickly, they lead to a relatively soft ending. Blood and gore are kept to a minimum despite several of the interns and Howard’s rival, Pate, finding themselves devoured by these newly minted zombies. However funny the story seems, it is still a horror story and this sometimes gets lost in the humor. This is only a minor “flaw” and does set the book apart from others in this genre.
THE ROBUSTA INCIDENT is a unique take on the horror of a zombie apocalypse with the terror of the plot set against the antics of the characters.