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Down the Road
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2009
I bought this book because of the overall ratings it received, but now I wish I had taken the time to read some of the reviews that weren't as positive, because most of them were spot on. I am a huge fan of zombie fiction and have been known to read pretty much anything I can get my hands on to get my fix, but finishing this book was a complete chore. Besides the main character being one dimensional and completely unlikable, the story line itself was pretty ridiculous and unrealistic, and at times cringe inducing. I mean, come on now! What made the author think it was a good idea to insert a gratuitous sex scene between two people who barely knew each other, in the middle of a room where two zombies were recently dispatched, and where the smell was so bad that both people just threw up? WTF?! I don't know about the rest of the population, but I can't think of ANYTHING less romantic than swapping spit with some guy immediately after both of us have just thrown up, and then doing said guy in a room with dead people in it. E[...] The whole scene was inappropriate and gross. Another thing that made me roll my eyes was the fact that the 'evil' homeland security would "neutralize" anyone who didn't wear their ID badge in the "rescue center" but would just throw up their hands and shrug when families insisted on bringing bitten family members inside! Those are just some of the parts that were so ridiculous and goofy that they made me embarrassed for the author. Much like some of the other reviewers, after reading this book I was left with the distinct impression that rather than being a fictional story, this ended up being a thinly veiled sounding board for the author's sexual fantasies and his dislike of the American government. Skip this book, it's time wasted that you'll never get back.
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44 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2005
Ok, I'll be blunt: this book was simply awful. The storyline was too simplistic, the characters dull and unrealistic, and the ending could have had potential if the author hadn't screwed up the rest of the story.

The author's writing style is sixth-gradish at best (shocking, since he is a high school teacher in Texas.): poor grammar, misuse of punctuation, and misspellings abound. In fact, it seems as though the author could not get it published at a real publisher and opted to hire a second-rate publisher and paid them to print the book. Believe me, it shows.

The story is simply the author's own fantasy of what he would do if the zombie apocolypse arrived. The sex scenes are a prime example (i.e. having sex in the principal's office with another teacher) of this fantasy. The main character, George, is simply the author with a different name. Taking a creative writing workshop would have enabled the author to avoid many of the storyline mistakes he made.

If you want to read a first-rate zombie novel, read Brian Keene's The Rising and City of the Dead. These two books are actually one enormous story that were well-written and quite scary, though the ending (no surpise here) is somewhat depressing (like the remake of Dawn of the Dead).
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2005
I was not entirely disappointed with this one, and I've read a lot of negative reviews. Being a fan of zombie fiction and with what limited books are available on the subject, I guess I'm willing to read past a lot of things. It is a limited playing field, but one that creative authors can really expand upon i.e. Vince Churchill, Len Barnhart, Brian Keene, etc. Bowie Ibarra's story takes place immediately after the world is thrown into chaos. One of the biggest complaints I've read was his bias against the U.S. Military and FEMA, and although it is quite evident I want to add to the fact that Bowie's story really adds something that a lot of stories do not address, and that is role of the military in a living dead world. Most people would assume that it would be every person left for themselves and every American institution would immedietely dissolve...and that would be absolutely incorrect. Military institutions would definetely try and take control. Why? Because if the President is still in power then it would be his or her responsibility to do so. Thus, those poor souls who were not consumed by the living dead would surely battle with the establishment as well.

So, I won't totally slam the book...it has another perspective on how people try and survive. I've read better and I've read worse. You just have to read past a lot of things, see its good points, because there surely are some (like the gangs at the stadium, trust me, when marshal law is declared people will be at there worst). I hope Bowie continues to write Zombie fiction and funnels that criticism into better books.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2009
Down the Road is a great premise. It has a good idea that is not executed very well. The author tried his dead level best to make the story emotionally engaging. I have to say he fails. The story has a lot of the zombie clichés we have come to expect. However, the book reads like a personal fantasy of what the author would do if a real zombie apoclypse struck. The main character, George, has stupid amounts of sex at inappropriate times in silly settings. There is a vain attempt to insert a subplot about his girlfriend's murder. It does not work and is way to full of coincidences. B. Ibarra does have some potential. The book picks up towards the very end and has a lot of promise. I liked the ending a lot. However, no matter how good the ending might be, it is soiled by the weak "rest of the book." I think Ibarra can get better; I might give him another chance, but I will not be expecting much. Unless he changes the way he approaches writing, he will not keep an audience for long. I forced myself to finish the book.
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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2005
I ordered this book and waited weeks for it. After the long wait I really wanted to like this book. I also wanted to finish it. This is the first book I haven't been able to finish because it was so bad.

Let's start with saying I am a Romero fan, and a fan of the Zombie genere for a long time now. This book seems to want to be a side-story set in Romero's world, but if the author tried he missed by a long shot. Reading this I felt like I was reading a 14 year old's short story written for his english class.

The author puts to much of his personel feeling into this book. The author put his view of the police and the goverment into this book, instead of letting the main chactor devolpe. The "scenes" in this book don't seem to last for more then a page or two. With the notiable expection of the Sex scene which last 4 or 5 pages. Once again the author seemed to want to live out his fantasy in this book.

The main chactor is a teacher, but if he was a real teacher I would be afaird of having him teach my children. He runs over two policemen without hesition because they where writing out tickets to people as they tried to leave the city. What the author must feel like would happen in real life if he did this everyone in traffic followed without even thinking about the death of the police offices.

After reading more then half the book, I couldn't find the conferntion betweeen main charactors. In fact whenever the main chactor mets up with someone there are best friends. This is a vital piece of a zombie movie is the conflicts between main chactors.

The book seems to jump ahead and does not like things devolpe. Like the realtion between the main chactor and a teacher he saves. The main chactor went to the school to save a cross that his finacee once owned because he loved her so much, but has sex with this teacher at the drop of a hat. Let the realtion build up I say, but the author seemed to want to write about how the sex to eagerly.

on a final note, with any good zombie film you should be able to identfy with a chactor. But the main chactor is totaly unapprocable. He is a teacher with a bad attuide, who hates the law and goverment because there always trying to push you around. Oh did I mention that he also knows boxing and martial arts. A general superman all around.

the world zombie, by the way, should almost never be said in a zombie story.

Please forgive my spelling. I have tried to spell correctly. My advice don't waste your money on this teenage boys fantsy.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2011
This book is shockingly awful. So bad I had to skip read to the end just to confirm that I wasn't mistaken and it may of gotten better but it didn't. The start is just bad, we are suppose to believe that a school teacher at the beginning of an apocalypse which hasn't even touched him yet would run over a police man killing him in a graphic way and be totally ok with it???? AWFUL AVOID LIKE THE ZOMBIE PLAGUE!!!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2012
Unlike my other reviews, I decided to just focus on the outrageously stupid sex scene in the school from On The Road. It sums up the quality level of the whole book. To set the scene for you, the main character George, is a teacher and he gets caught in a school with tons of zombies. Once he is there he rescues a sexy female colleague that he always wanted to have sex with. Hell this chick is a teacher who just waits for the zombie apocalypse to come around to unleash that inner porn star in her! George is one lucky guy! This is a work that "Plot Convenience Theater Presents" would showcase as a four-star production!

Long story short, he kills some zombies and saves her, thus winning the sex points he needs to set up the whole scene. There is no seduction here boys and girls, the dialog goes to this stilted porno conversation where both characters declare they always wanted to do one another. From there, just like in real life, it's off to the races! Their passions are unleashed in a ridiculously self serving set of sex scenes done on everything in the school (showers and desks you name it) and all in one evening mind you. I am surprised that Ibarra did not put a janitor or someone dressed as the school mascot in there for some weird ass three way!

I guess a reasonable reader would expect some minor post trauma or fatigue from at least one or both characters considering what they had been through up to that point. Keep in mind that the world is ending around them and both of them burned adrenaline at both ends just to survive to get to this scene. Maybe a tired depressed finding of each other that resulted in pooped out sex would have been more realistic than what we got in this scene. Better yet how about the female character turning him down because she would be too freaked out after seeing half the school die in front of her? Or to be fair, wouldn't be possible that George was too post-traumatically burned out to get it on? Well reality be damned, its Ibarra's fantasy and Georgie wants to get some! So he fights and kills tons of zombies and has all this energy to have a porn scene that would put Ron Jeremy to shame.

I bet you're saying, Jarric hey these pages don't fill themselves and people want the boobs, so shut up! Well that's not what I am trying to do so bear with me! Getting back to my point, this set of scenes just goes on like some unedited Viagra commercial (if those ad executives had it their way, those commercials would be x-rated in a heartbeat trust me). For example there is a classroom scene with a dead zombie in the room with them as they do the nasty. Turn off you say....bah this is the sexy teacher George, women find him attractive even with a mangled putrefied corpse in the room! They should bottle this guy's libido (again there are some ad executives for Cialis that might be taking notes here so I'll spare you the joke).

Getting serious for a moment, let me make one thing clear, I don't mind sex scenes in books. I am of the mindset that you put priority in writing good characters and a solid plot first then design a scene that fits them. You can have your characters do a wild sex scene if your story and your characters justify that scene. If they don't well, then you are filing pages, your ego, and insulting the reader's intelligence. At the end of the book, your readers are the judge of if you pulled it off or not. If your story is good enough and your characters are amazing, go for it, no limits. However, this scene was not contributing to the story at all and was just was a stereotypical page filling exercise. In my opinion, Ibarra didn't pull it off in this scene or in the book as a whole.

How do I prove this? Well, I say Poochie the Dog to you. For those of you who watch the Simpsons, Poochie was a new character introduced to the Itchy & Scratchy cartoon that was Bart's favorite show. Poochie was introduced by the show's creators to boost sagging ratings. Needless to say his addition to the show destroyed the chemistry of Itchy & Scratchy and sabotaged the violent slap stick humor that had made it so great. Long story short, there is major fan backlash and they have to get rid of him. So how do they get rid of Poochie? Well he is removed from the cartoon with a dubbed over voice stating "I have to go now. My planet needs me." and the animation cell is crudely removed mid-cartoon.

How does the sexy scene in the school relate back to the removal of Poochie you ask? Well after this wild night of uninhibited sex, you'd think George's new lady would stick around right? Oh no my friend, just like the perfect porn star all teenage boys dream of, she's off on her own because her planet needs her, oh sorry I mean because she needs to find her family. Now after having this steamy perfect love scene, would not he or she want to continue to have this great sex? Hell why wouldn't George go with her? Why wouldn't she demand he come along for protection? Why would they not team up for safety sake or at least porno sake? Well because the hot sexy teacher friend was "Poochied" by Ibarra because the character had no other purpose than to fill pages for a pointless sex scene. Let us just say it could have been done better. He could have still had the sex scene with "Poochie" (aka the sexy hot teacher) and developed the character into something more like a human being than a "have pornstar will travel" type cartoon. It would have fit the story better to do that and then kill her off or have her leave later on if she didn't fit in anywhere in the rest of the story. A story with solid characters works better than one that does not have them. This scene is an example of how Down the Road does not have either quality. Down the Road is filled with two-dimensional characters and situations that are not fleshed out enough to make an enjoyable reading experience. If you decide to read it, you have been warned. I cannot Poochie this one out of existence people, so if you read it, you are on your own! If you think I am wrong, hey it is your money, spent it and your time as you wish.
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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2006
Down the Road by Bowie Ibarra continues the growing renaissance of the zombie tale. While not a great novel, Ibarra's first foray into novel lenght (though I would categorize this tale more as an extended novella than a full-blown novel) storytelling hits more than it misses.

Ibarra uses the the so-called "Romero Rules" in regards to the topic of the flesh-eating zombies in Down the Road. There are none of the Olympic-level sprinters of the recent trend in modern zombie films (Dawn of the Dead remake) and Ibarra's zombies remain slow, shambling creatures with the barest of motor functions and instinct (unlike the demon-possessed undead of Brian Keene's great, albeit nihilisitic The Rising and City of the Dead). The story is seen through the point of view of the main character, George Zaragoza, a high school teacher in an Austin school. The story starts off in quick form with George quickly going through preparing to leave the city to head for his boyhood home. There's not of the so-called "origin" chapters that usually used to explain how the crisis first began and where. Instead the reader gradually learns from George's interaction with people he meets during his roadtrip home about what exactly has been happening the past couple of weeks.

To say that George's travels once he leaves Austin was eventful would be an understatement. He doesn't just have to deal with the growing numbers of undead roaming the roads, by-ways and towns in his path, but also the danger of looters and criminals. Ibarra gives FEMA and Homeland Security top-billing as the living danger to bookend the growing undead. I may not agree with all his characterization of those two government agencies, but he does describe vividly just how quickly such organizations can go from protecting its citizens to posing a bigger danger in the end.

But his travels was not just about one dangerous crisis after the other. George meets up with other survivors who show and make him feel alive and give him some hope that not everyone has devolved to their most basest instinct. It's in some of these encounters that Ibarra has injected abit more sex in a zombie tale that other authors have not ventured deeply into. Who said a zombie tale meant character's libido has to be suppressed or be non-existent. How Ibarra came about in creating the situations for the sex scenes might seem incredulous at first, but who said such things couldn't occur. I've seen weirder things occur at frat houses.

Overall, Ibarra's first work looks to be a work of love by a fan of all things zombie and who knows exactly what other fans just like him want from their zombie tales. He doesn't overdo in layering his story with layers upon layers of themes and social commentary. While the theme of how far an individual will go to survive in a crisis is there, Ibarra still sticks to keeping the story moving quickly from one end to the other. I actually thought the novel as too short. He had so much ideas introduced in the first couple chapters that I think he could've added another 150 pages and not lose the reader's interest. But I'm assuming that's where the sequel novel comes in.

Down the Road: A Zombie Horror Story by Bowie Ibarra is a very good first try by a new writer in keeping the tradition of the zombie tale alive during this second Golden Age for the subgenre. While there's flaws in this first novel, the story itself moved at such a fast pace that I barely noticed the flaws until after I was done and by then I was already hooked by the world he had put on paper. I hope that with all the feedback he's received from fans and fellow writers both, Ibarra's sequel to this novel will be less of a jewel in the rough and more of the polished gem that I feel he has in him to write. I highly recommend this first novel to all fans of the zombie genre. They won't be disappointed.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The book started off well, but quickly went downhill. While the writing itself isn't bad, the behavior of the people in the book is simply too unbelievable. Certain parts reminded me of the plot a a cheap porno. Example: while hordes of zombies are literally on the other side of the wall, and could break in at any time, the main character has sex multiple times with a colleague (who was grading papers in the middle of the apocalypse) in various different rooms of a school. Perhaps a bit unrealistic? The ruthlessness of the common American soldier is also unrealistic. They are portrayed as mindless killers who blindly follow the orders of the government to kill all people who refuse to go to a FEMA camp. Members of the military are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and relatives. Do you really think they would go around killing helpless Americans simply because they were told to? The ATF would (and has), but as a member of the US military, I can tell you that most of us are normal people who would never obey an order to fire on unarmed Americans. Basically, the characters in this book are just too two dimensional and ruin what could be a good story.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2009
This book is not written well by any standards...seriously. The characters are extremely simplistic---NO depth whatsoever. The plotline is shallow and unbelieveable as well.

Throughout the book, I kept imagining that the author must be a horny 12 year old boy because that's the only demographic that this book might possibly appeal to. Sex, violence, and drug lords...that about sums up the amount of thought that was put into this plot. The sex scenes detailed in the book are written in the manner of graphic comic book--- delicate, lustful women and strong dominant males. And then when the sex is done Ibarra turns to implausibly written drug lords as well as some raping. There is no actual thought put into this book whatsoever; it just jumps from one extreme to the next without any consideration for quality in writing.

If you're a horny, volatile teenager that is willing to believe an outlandish plotlines and perverse extremes, then go for it. If you're intelligent in any way and just want to read a good zombie novel...look elsewhere!
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