The premise of ‘Apocalypse Cow’ is inspired. A weaponised virus escapes from a government lab and turns cows and other animals into crazed carnivores.
The mechanics of the virus and its spread had been carefully thought through, as had the chaos that it would cause and the difficulty the army would have in containing the spread of the infection while dealing with large numbers of displaced people.
The structure of the story was also promising. Three initially separate storylines that eventually twist around each other, each one centring on an uninspiring hero: a journalist whose not very good at her job, a slaughterhouse work who is depressed by the killing that he does, and the much put-upon son of hippy parents whose commitment to veganism results in their son having to wear clothes made of hemp (which he is allergic to.
Yet, by the 70% mark, I abandoned the book rather than spend another two hours and forty minutes watching the plot unfold.
What was the problem? The humour, the pace and the people.
Humour’s a funny thing. You get it or you don’t. It works or it doesn’t. For me, the humour in this book didn’t work. Why? I didn’t like that most of the humour was tainted either by cruelty or by a puerile sleaziness. For the most part, the situations and the reactions of the characters had a lot of potential for humour. I was reminded of the kind of situations that Tom Sharpe would set up. But time after time the humour slid from exploiting the potential of a chaotic situation to poking fun at the characters for their weaknesses or adding in little bits of sleaze that may have been meant to be titillating or ironic but which just seemed puerile to me.
The middle of the book, when the three storylines have become one, seemed to lose all forward motion. There was action. Bloody, violent action. Some of the main characters died in spectacular ways. But I felt that the story wasn’t going anywhere.
I think this feeling of being stalled was added to because none of the characters felt real to me so, when they died, it didn’t have anything like the impact it could have done. It was more like a piece being taken off the board than the death of a person. Even by the 70% point, I wasn’t invested enough in the characters to care about what happened to any of them.
If the humour in this works for you then I’m sure you’d have a lot of fun and the pace and the shallowness of the characterisation would be easy to gloss over. But it’s not for me.
One thought on “‘Apocalypse Cow’ by Michael Logan – abandoned at 70%”
I saw this in the bookstore a while back and added it to my to-read list purely based on the title, but I can’t say I’m surprised that it’s not that great.