{Book Review} Sole Survivor: Zachary Ashford (Rewind Or Die Book 6)

Sole Survivor: Zachary Ashford

Reviewed By Ben Walker

Nature can be cruel sometimes – imagine stumbling across a koala only for it to eat your face off instead of munching sedately on a eucalyptus leaf. That’s essentially what happens in Sole Survivor, Zachary Ashford’s entry into the Rewind or Die series from Unnerving Publications, where B-movie style ideas run riot. And this is one riotous read, pitching a bunch of stranded reality show contestants against a mutated throng of killer marsupials. What made them go blood-crazed isn’t important – this is all about the ride.

As with Alan Baxter’s killer kangaroo tale, The Roo, there’s a healthy dose of humour to go alongside the plentiful gore, and seeing as we’re dealing with reality show contestants, there’s also a heaping helping of snark. Tempers are already frayed as we join the motley crew of production staff and wannabe stars, so adding killer koalas to the mix just makes things worse. As they bicker about who’s in charge, the group splinters into easily consumed groups, picked off one by one as they go through the kind of scenarios you might expect – the couple who want to find a place to have sex, the determined badass who wants to buckle down and survive, the horny bloke who can’t catch a break and so on.

Like any good creature feature, there needs to be a balance between the obvious heroes and the shittier personalities, and the book delivers on that score. You’re never really sure who’s going to survive until the final few pages, and there’s the inevitable contestant who turns out nuttier than Mr Peanut’s autopsy report. The action skips between a few characters before settling on a lead, in a similar way to the talking heads segments you get on a reality show, and that makes the book feel a bit scatty at first before it settles into its groove.

Plot-wise, it was interesting to see this break from the Wrong Turn 2 or Halloween: Resurrection formula, where the contestants don’t know what’s part of the show and what’s not. The show here is going ahead unbeknownst to the contestants; the island they’re marooned on is filled with cameras, but there are no chances to talk to the audience, no asides from the crew asking people to sex up the action. As such, this is more of a straight survival story, with the reality TV aspect not really adding that much, apart from the occasional discovery and some troublesome intrusions from a mysterious crew member. The cast are mostly left to fend for themselves, so the story depends on you latching onto a character or two and hoping they make it through.

Luckily the cast are either likeable, expendable or both – there’s that aforementioned snarkiness running right the way through the book, and a human threat also emerges alongside the hungry not-bears. You end up spending an unusual amount of time with that person, not that this is a bad thing, but their journey into madness sometimes overshadows the heroes simpler path towards escape. That said, giving you a nasty bad guy makes it all the sweeter when they get slapped down – no spoilers here, but what good B movie is complete without someone being taken down a peg or two?

And just like a B-movie, this provides a solidly entertaining, blood-soaked burst of fun, with a few dry jabs of satire along the way. Perfect for a quick read, and one which makes me excited for the other offerings in the Rewind or Die series.

Sole Survivor

An uninhabited island…
Several hundred hidden cameras…
Ten contestants who think they’re stranded…
One man employed to thin their numbers…
One predatory species determined to feed…
For the contestants of television’s latest prime-time reality show, the plane crash is a mere inconvenience on their way to fame and fortune. Unfortunately, there’s no rescue coming. Instead, the producers have other ideas, like watching them find the island’s killer creatures for themselves…
Like watching them die.
Tune in and discover who will be the Sole Survivor!

You can buy Sole Survivor from Amazon UK Amazon US

Ben Walker

Ben got a taste for terror after sneaking downstairs to watch The Thing from behind the sofa at age 9. He’s a big fan of extreme & bizarre horror and well as more psychological frights, and most things in between. When he’s not reading, he’s writing, and when he’s not writing he’s on twitter @BensNotWriting or reviewing books on his YouTube channel, BLURB.

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