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Apocalyptic Organ Grinder

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William Todd Rose reinvents the zombie story with a thrilling novella of a post-apocalyptic America where saviors are heroes . . . and heroes are killers.
A fatal virus—a biowarfare experiment unleashed on an unsuspecting world—has reduced the once-mighty United States to a smattering of tribes dueling for survival in the lawless wilderness. The disease-free folk known as Settlers barricade themselves in small villages, determined to keep out the highly contagious Spewers—infected humans who cannot die from the virus but spread the seeds of death from the festering blisters that cover their bodies.
Tanner Kline is a trained Sweeper, sworn to exterminate Spewers roaming the no-man’s-land surrounding his frightened community. As all Settlers do, Tanner dismisses them as little more than savages—until he meets his match in Spewer protector Lila. But when hunter and hunted clash, their bloody tango ignites a firestorm of fear and hatred. Now, no one is safe from the juggernaut of terror that rages unchecked, and the fate of humanity hangs on questions with no answers: Who’s right, who’s wrong . . . and who’s going to care if everyone’s dead?

Praise for Apocalyptic Organ Grinder
“With strong echoes of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, William Todd Rose’s Apocalyptic Organ Grinder delivers on all fronts. The action is brutal and the blurring of man and monster intelligently and inventively handled. Rose has written a smart thriller with a ton of heart.”—Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award–winning author of The Savage Dead and Inheritance

“The book just took me away. . . . The prose is beautiful.”—39 Purple Sunrises
“Dark, and definitely not fluffy . . . a no-holds-barred look at what may happen in the future.”—Mrs. Condit & Friends Read Books

92 pages, ebook

First published April 22, 2011

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William Todd Rose

34 books33 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 41 reviews
Profile Image for Frank Errington.
738 reviews56 followers
June 10, 2014
Review copy

For a novella length story, there is a lot going on in Apocalyptic Organ Grinder.

There's the back story of the evil wizard who created the pathogen which kills off most of the world's population, there are two groups of survivors, those not killed outright, but are diseased carriers who refer to themselves as The People, and those known as Clear Skins who call the infected Spewers.

Tanner Kline, a Clear Skin, is also a Sweeper, it's his job to seek out Spewers and eliminate them. I found Apocalyptic Organ Grinder to be interesting in that there are no clear-cut good guys and bad guys, both groups want the same basic things. Food, shelter, and safety for their loved ones.

Of course, if you are a Clear Skin, you can understand why the Spewers would be a threat, "He could see the greenish yellow pus within the stone-sized blisters that covered their bodies. The blisters were membrane thin and the pressure of infection made them pulse and throb as if tiny hearts were submerged within the cloudy liquid. Portions of the Spewer's bodies were marked with deflated blisters that had yet to scab over; directly below these festering wounds. new bubbles of flesh filled with contagion and strained against the skin."

Apocalyptic Organ Grinder seems a bit hampered by the novella format. I would have liked to have read this in a novel sized treatment with more about life in each of the survivor groups, as well as more about the evil wizard and the events leading up to the way things are now.

As it stands, Apocalyptic Organ Grinder is a good story and an enjoyable read from Random House. It's set for publication on June 17, 2014, but I see the ebook available now at Amazon.com.
Profile Image for Carol Kean.
388 reviews53 followers
June 12, 2013
Much to my surprise, this story hooked me from page one, and the characters were believable and real to me. I received this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review. Zombies and apocalypses are not my favorite genre, so I had low expectations. Since this is from Random House instead of a self pub, I was confident the prose would be polished and readable, and it was, in spite of some small inconsistencies and glitches. E.g., introduce the protagonist as Tanner Kline; thereafter, refer to him as Tanner or as Kline, but don't switch back and forth for variety, thank you.

A bigger surprise came when the pus-spewing "prey" turned out to be more human than the hunter had been indocrinated to believe. These weren't zombies after all, but living, mortal humans who were infected with an ugly, blistering, oozing skin condition that (unfortunately?) was terminal to most humans but not to them. A parallel to this is Moses and Aaron, in the Old Testament, commanded by God to steer clear of infected people with contagious skin conditions: lepers. Colonies of lepers were segregated from The Chosen for thousands of years, at God's own command, until Jesus came along and dumped some of those heartless rules.

The Spewers, those infected with the Gabriel Virus, are dehumanized by the Sweepers, "clear skins" whose mission is to exterminate Spewers. They're not really human; they're ignorant; they don't have our intelligence or culture; they're disgusting creatures who must die. This attitude parallels the dehumanizing of Native Americans on our own continent, a mere century or two ago. Savages were easier to dispose of with a clean conscience than civilized people, after all.

Tanner the hunter does meet some Spewers in their own habitat, and does see evidence that these people have feelings, souls, merits, talents -- but his indoctrination wins out, and he continues waging war against them. His crisis of conscience could have led to great things, but with "apocalyptic" in the title, we shouldn't be so optimistic. This story illustrates the worst of humanity, not our potential to grow, mature, and achieve greater understanding and acceptance.

I might have 2 or 3-starred this story just for the depressing overall tone, but it did keep me turning pages, and I did care about the characters and wanted to know which side would win, if winning is even possible in a post-apocalypse world.

For $1.99, the price is right. Would I read more novels like this? Only if I have a steady balance of positive stories. Matt Haig's "The Humans" takes an honest look at the worst of humanity, yet celebrates the good parts. Different genre, yes, and the novel reads like a collection of inspirational memes from Facebook, but after Apocalpytic Organ Grinder, that was the next novel I requested from NetGalley.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,375 reviews1,103 followers
May 12, 2021
This was not what I expected. I expected more horror, but got a glimpse into a sad, broken, infected future. An infection spread across the world, infecting and killing most of civilization. Those that remain, like Tanner, are working toward creating a safer world for their families. At first I thought the infected were more like zombies, or crazies. but no, they are just sick and have boils.
It is an interested, dual perspective story, from both sides of the dilemma. Are the infected still human? Do they have worth? But when their very skin is death to others, what is a father to do? It sets up quite a moral question for the reader. It lets you potentially choose a side. Regardless, it is a sad, bleak outlook. This book is violent and tragic.
Profile Image for Mandy.
3,103 reviews261 followers
June 16, 2013
This was my first assignment from Netgalley.com, and I must admit my heart sank a little, especially as when I checked out the author the dreaded word “vampires” appeared. Oh no, I thought, this one is most definitely not going to be for me. Should I even attempt to review it, as I am not the target audience and therefore perhaps not the best person to make a judgement? But I hope to continue working with Netgalley.com so I decided to give it a go and try to keep an open mind.
The result was a confirmation that readers should indeed always keep an open mind, as I found myself quickly caught up in the story and very much enjoyed it. It is indeed a genre work, but manages to transcend that genre and can take its place alongside other post-apocalyptic books such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, even if it’s not such a literary work. It’s short, and there’s not a great deal to it. There’s not enough time for the characters to develop, and there are many post-apocalyptic stories with ideas and concepts which are explored more deeply than here. But the prose flows (although with rather too many similes) and the story line is engaging and exciting enough to carry the reader along.
It all takes place some 150 years after the fall of civilisation as we know it. Cities have crumbled and the survivors are living in small settlements. Two distinct cultures have evolved, and are locked in conflict with each other. The Settlers appear to be the good guys, whilst the Spewers carry the contagious Gabriel virus and appear to be the bad guys. Tanner Kline is a Sweeper, whose job it is to search out and kill any Sweeper in the vicinity of his settlement. He firmly believes this is his duty, and cannot conceive of the Sewers as people as deserving as himself. One night he sets out on a routine patrol and his path crosses that of Lila, a Sewer, who is set on revenge for the death of her husband. With this meeting, the two cultures collide and a life and death struggle ensues.

So at one level this is an adventure story, fast-paced and exciting. But on another it is a thought-provoking examination of humanity’s distrust of anyone who is not like us, anyone who is different, and anyone whose way of life and traditions differ from ours and thereby pose a threat. Yes, the Spewers have a dreadful disease (parallels with AIDS and our attitudes to carriers of the disease are obvious) yes that alone does not make them a lesser species. There is hated and brutality on both sides, lack of understanding and empathy, and in the struggle between Tanner and Kline these issues are played out. William Rose Todd has not broken new ground here but he has written a very readable and accessible book and one which deserves a wide readership.
Profile Image for Sully .
682 reviews16 followers
June 16, 2013
2.5/5 rating

I was invited to read an advanced reading copy of this book from NetGalley:

I would have enjoyed this book more without the italized chapters. They did not add much to the plot besides back story on the separation between the two groups and how the virus came about. Instead of adding to the plot, it gave the story subtle religious undertones and made the whole premise rather farfetched and unrealistic. Then the author added to the mix magicians/wizards and kings and the so called Great Spirit as well? I was not certain which genre this story leaned toward, but it ended up fantasy in my book, which made it harder to empathize with any of the characters because I didn't believe they would ever exist in real life so it was hard to relate.

From other reviews, I thought this story was going to be more of a zombie tale. I was pretty far off. The people in this tale are humans who have suffered a virus/disease that has infected a great deal of the population. So while I did like how these "zombies" still have their humanity, I was disappointed they were not actually zombies as I had thought from other reviews. Returning to the back story chapters, these people are infected people with this virus. I honestly don't really care why. That certainly isn't what this story is about. So let's get on with the story shall we, instead of discussing a conversation between a rat and a fly.

I do like how the story was told from both sides though, following a person on either side of the infection fight. I don't think the story would have made a good full length novel but it was a decent novella since it wasn't a huge time investment. The imagery in this story is great, thanks to the descriptive prose of the author. Not a style I would normally equate with a seemingly fast paced apocalypse novel, but he makes it work rather well. On one hand, the ending was rather predictable, at least in regards to the final outcome. But how it all played out was rather unexpected and surprising.

I'm not sure what I think about the title. I see how it applies, but it doesn't catch my interest and try to draw me into exploring the book. If I hadn't been invited to read this story, I doubt it would have caught my attention as I searched for a new read online.
Profile Image for Angela.
932 reviews47 followers
September 23, 2013
I requested this novella from Netgalley without even reading the synopsis for it; the title alone just screamed out at me and all I could think of was "gimme, gimme, gimme!"

Judging from the title, I thought this would read like a cheap b-movie storyline or something, complete with mounds of gore and stupidity, which is just what I like in a b-movie and wanted the equivalent in literature form.

This novella is not like that all, but that didn't disappoint me. This is a very well written novella about warring humans in a post-apocalyptic world, where one side serve as incubators to a blistering and deadly infection and the other is not. The novella is told from two perspectives (one from each side) and Rose has done a very good job in portraying revulsion and sympathy for both sides (though I sympathise with one group more than the other).

I don't know if a sequel is in the pipeline, or if Rose will ever venture into this world again, but I hope he does as I very much enjoyed this and there is plenty of scope for him to explore further.

An advance reader copy was kindly provided by the publisher through Netgalley
Profile Image for Wayne McCoy.
3,798 reviews22 followers
October 11, 2013
A novella length book about 2 warring factions of humans in a not too distant. One set is infected with sores and blisters. The discharge is infectious. The other group is uninfected and trying to remain that way.

The story follows a man named Tanner Kline, who is a Sweeper. It's his job to eliminate the infected and protect his village. On a hunt one day, he is captured by a tribe of the infected and their leader Lila. The infected live in tribes in the woods, not in walled houses and they hate and fear the Sweepers who bring death to them. The animosity between these two people is tense and the story is told from both viewpoints. It seems that there might be a form of peace, then a horrific act ends that. There are chapters that give a history of what's happened in a sort of mythological way.

The title was a bit confusing to me, but by the end, it made more sense. I liked the characters and the way the story ends. It's well written and paced well. The story is brutal, violent, and pulls no punches, so if you like your stories that way, check it out.
Profile Image for Daniel.
2,340 reviews35 followers
October 24, 2018
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.25 of 5

Tanner Kline is a 'Sweeper.' It is his job to protect the uninfected from the infected. In this post-apocalyptic setting there are really only the two factions - those infected with the Gabriel Virus, referred to as "Spewers" because of the way their sores tend to eject pus, infecting others, and there are those who have not been infected by the Spewers, the Clear-Skins.

Tanner and his kind have completely de-humanized the Spewers as nothing more than animals who are a danger to the rest of humanity and therefore must be destroyed. But Tanner is captured by a band of Spewers and taken back to their settlement. While it is clear that the Spewers fear and hate the Sweepers because of the destruction they bring, Tanner comes to a very difficult realization ... the Spewers are human. Even though the Spewers live in the woods, they still live in communities and band together the way the Clear-Skin do, and they treat one another with respect. In fact, the Spewers may behave more humanly than do the clear-skins!

This is a short book, a novella, and author William Todd Rose keeps the action moving swiftly. The story is told from alternating viewpoints, which also moved the story along nicely.

The book does seem to lead us into a place of recognition and redemption, but given the title - which may seem a little strange until you read the book - it shouldn't be a surprise that this story is about the worst of humanity and not the best.

I really like the idea of big publishers putting out shorter works as ebooks - as long as they are priced appropriately. It gives the reader a chance to sample more authors without committing either money or time in long books, trilogies, or series' now. The ebook format is perfect for this. I do recall, during my various days working in book stores, that publishers have periodically published novellas as paperback books, but it never quite caught on.

For those who like the horror market and/or dystopian fiction with a dark nature to it, then this is a great little novella that you can sample and enjoy.

Looking for a good book? Apocalyptic Organ Grinder, by William Todd Rose, is a dark, graphic novella of how humanity has lost its compassion.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Julie Witt.
461 reviews9 followers
June 21, 2022
Apocalyptic Organ Grinder is a novella set in a post-apoc world where you have two groups of people: Sweepers, who hunt those infected with a virus known as the Gabriel Virus, and Spewers, the infected who are covered with sores that spew pus, which is how this virus is spread. In this story, Tanner Kline is a Sweeper who takes out an infected couple while patrolling, and Lila, a Spewer who is a friend of the couple Tanner shoots. Lila would rather kill him right away, but the rules of her village demand that she take him before the Elders as they are the only ones who can impose a death sentence. Needless to say, Tanner doesn't go easily, and Lila doesn't, either.

This is a very dark dystopian novella. Because it is so short, and so action packed, it was a very quick read. I thought it was very interesting that it was told from the point of view of both Tanner and Lila, and the back story of how the virus came to be was also told from the point of view of the Spewers and the Sweepers, almost like a fairy tale each group tells their young. This gave it a very interesting perspective. Also interesting was that you find yourself rooting for one of our protagonists one minute, and then the other the next, and then back again. It keeps you on your toes!

If you're looking for a short novella in the dark dystopian/post-apocalyptic vein, then you might want to give this one a try.

4/5 stars.

*** I would like to thank NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group - Hydra, and William Todd Rose for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Melissa.
253 reviews50 followers
October 31, 2020
Wow! If Falling Skies joined with Defiance on a Premium channel in a weekly/monthly Sci-Fi anthology series, this would definitely be one of the episodes!
Profile Image for Vincenzo Bilof.
Author 37 books109 followers
January 15, 2013
After finishing this amazing work of art from William Todd Rose, I'm still reeling from the maddening conclusion.

A work of speculative-fiction, Apocalyptic Organ Grinder has less to do with the apocalypse than it does with the human species and our monstrous ability to classify and subdivide groups of people until we can create an acceptable standard. If written in the 1950s or '60s, this book would have been hailed as a masterpiece: pitting two different variations of the human species--one infected with a world-ending, flesh scarring virus, and the other the pure-skinned standard--this book makes you choose a side, and it's a choice you don't want to make.

Who is right, and who is wrong? Who are the true "savages" in this story. We all know the answer, of course, but Rose explores the depths of human depravity and societal fractures, a timeless weakness of the human race.

We are introduced to Tanner Kline, a Sweeper whose job it is to find and eliminate the Spewers, who have been infected with the Gabriel Virus. Tanner believes he is purifying his world from the taint of these "filthy people" for the sake of his daughter's future, but his ability to dehumanize the Spewers is paralleled by the introduction of Lila, a Spewer whose family has been destroyed by Sweepers.

What's the difference between the two races? What separates them? Not very much. Rose includes narrative interludes that explain the history behind the disease and the division of these two peoples, though we realize that the "apocalypse" was made possible by human frailty and savagery rather than the virus's ability to depopulate the species.

The symbolic "organ grinder" doesn't seem to make an impact on the novel until more than three-quarters into the story, and there aren't very many other characters to help illustrate the complex themes. However, the conflict between the two groups is illustrated aptly through the eyes of Tanner and Lila--additional characters might muddy the plot.

The tension between the two perspectives is relentless, and there are two heart-pounding moments in this work, including the shocking conclusion, that will leave you breathless with conflicting emotions. While a chase scene does get bogged down by a little too much detail, the majority of the story is fast-paced and riveting.

Apocalyptic Organ Grinder is an excellent allegory for any generation. While the book is certainly a genre work, it's easy to ignore any preconceived notions of fiction categories--a lesson that will help us better understand this book's most important themes. You could easily write a dissertation on the varying concepts that Rose explores.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Angela.
323 reviews26 followers
July 3, 2013
This is an end-of-the-world story, but it’s not your typical every day story. There are different groups of people: those infected and those not. The infected are exiled and exterminated to keep the infection out of the colonies. Each colony has what are called Sweepers. They are the ones that go out and protect the people from the infected or “Spewers” as they are referred to. The Spewers seem to be normal people, with the exception that they are infected with a deadly virus and can make everyone sick. They are trying to survive the best way they know how while living with the virus. Each side has their own way of life that they are trying to protect, but who’s is the right one to protect?

The story is told from both perspectives: from Tanner Kline, a Sweeper and Lila, a spewer. Each one sees the other group as a threat and someone to eliminate should they have the opportunity. It seems as though the non-infected people have the better technology and weapons, while the infected live more primitively. Does that mean that they deserve to be hunted and killed on site? What about the children who appear as though they aren’t infected, but tend to show symptoms later in life? These are questions that Tanner decides that he is going to answer Yes to, no matter what the cost. Lila, on the other hand, seems to think with more than her “trigger finger.” She seems more analytical and compassionate towards the non-infected. However, given the chance, she and the other Spewers can give just as good as they get.

I was hooked into this novella pretty much from page 1. I was drawn in by the writing and the vivid descriptions of everything. I felt the anger, the drama, the tension and anxiety that these characters felt. I tried to decide which group should ultimately be the reigning group and you want to root for the non-infected because of obvious reasons. But if the Spewers are more compassionate and the non-infected are more trigger happy, then what does that say if they are eliminated? It is a tough dilemma. I would really have liked this to be a longer story. I think that I have so many unresolved feelings and questions that it is difficult for me to decide who is right and who is wrong in this story. I understood both sides and could relate to their individual feelings, I just can’t pick which side is correct in this conflict. I don’t know how I would react to either of their situations. I just know that I would hope that whatever decision I made that I could make it for the right reasons. I do know one thing for sure: I will be downloading and reading more of William Todd Rose’s works.
Profile Image for Taylor Troncin.
731 reviews6 followers
December 28, 2015
This is a book that I received a free e-copy from net galley to review. All I can say is "wow." The book went by really quickly - a lot quicker than what I thought it would. Some gross stuff - but nothing too bad (though if you get queasy with the idea of "pus" then stay away!). What prevented the book from getting 5/5 stars was the fact that I could (and did - though not because I really wanted to..) skip some parts / sections and still figure out what was going on. Ok, maybe that's not a bad thing, but to me that says that parts were not necessary. Anyway, the book itself was really good and different than a lot of other things that I had read.

This is not a zombie book really. I've heard/seen a lot of people want to label it as such, but I hope no one picks this up and thinks it will be your every day zombie book.

What also might have influenced my rating was the fact that I had a lot of other things going on in my personal life while reading this story. This is not the fault of the book or anything, but it just influenced my highly subjective rating.

This is also the very first ebook that I have read. I read it on my laptop and didn't enjoy the layout too well (the idea of reading on the computer itself, not the book's layout). I definitely will try to get used to reading via a laptop / reading e-books as quite a few things are available in that form. I only mention this because it is something else that might have skewed my rating.

So, with all of these things working against the book, why 4/5 instead of 3/5 or even 2/5? Well, I used the goodreads rating and I really did like the book. Simple as that. Despite parts seeming unnecessary, the book itself held a very interesting idea/theme. I am going to be taking a class on trauma and literature in the fall and I think this would have been an excellent addition to the reading list. The book overall was more than "ok."

I recommend this book to anyone who likes some of the unconventional creepy things (I LOVE Stephen King, so that might influence me a bit... and the Saw movies....). I would say that adult readers would be the best audience for this (or maybe late teens even). I really did enjoy it and hope that my review has been helpful to potential readers, etc.

683 reviews24 followers
August 17, 2016
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Whatever my expectations were starting Apocalyptic Organ Grinder, they were blown away within a few chapters. William Todd Rose packed so much into this novella that I hardly know where to start.

Let’s start off with his world-building. It was fascinating, terrifying and worst of all, believable. The divide between the Spewers, the people infected with a horrible disease who pass it onto healthy people and the healthy people is realistic. Spewers are outcasts to be put down like animals upon sight by Sweepers like Tanner, who will do anything to keep their friends and family safe. Yet the atrocities aren’t limited to the uninfected because the Spewers’ hands aren’t clean either in this war. I love how in Apocalyptic Organ Grinder both sides are relatively ambiguous; it’s left up to the reader to decide for themselves who’s good and who’s evil. Personally, I decided both sides are a mixture of good and evil.

Both Tanner and Lila were fascinating characters. Tanner will do anything, which includes kill Spewers, in order to protect his little girl back at the settlement. He does have a guilty conscience and wrestles with it and it’s that struggle that brings Apocalyptic Organ Grinder to its horrifying conclusion. His hands are certainly not clean and we do feel more sympathy for Lila, the Spewer who only wants to protect her family and her tribe from Sweepers like Tanner. Since we get to see things from both perspectives we’re left to judge the characters by their actions and internal struggles.

The plot was fast-paced in this little novella and I read the whole thing in one sitting. Reading a book in one sitting is not unusual for me as my regular readers will know, but frantically flipping the pages to do so is. William Todd Rose certainly knows how to create suspense in a limited number of pages. He is also quite even-handed with the perspective switches so that we get enough switches to understand both sides of the story but not so many as to become confusing or annoying. In short, Apocalyptic Organ Grinder may not have a completely unique premise, but it does have awesome characters, great world-building and suspense.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars, rounded up to 5 stars for Goodreads rating purposes.
Profile Image for Nikki in Niagara.
3,782 reviews124 followers
March 20, 2014
At only 86 pages this is an intense novella, with chapter breaks, focusing on characteristics and feelings of two differing post-apocalyptic species and certain members. A typical hypothesis that I enjoy with post-apocalyptic novels: the evil virus that wipes out the population, at least most of it. The lucky ones die, the not so lucky ones live and the least fortunate ones become something mutated, less than human. Rose brings a unique vision to the table here though that makes for some fast paced, heart-pounding, sickening feelings and a reader looking for a moral high ground can not find one. Written in alternating viewpoints, first from a man who is a Sweeper. His job is to keep the settlements clean from the remaining infected ones who carry the disease, show all symptoms of it, but it does not kill them, though they still are highly infectious. These people are wild vermin who must be exterminated before they can infect the last of the pure human race left.

The other view is from an infected female warrior leader, a Spewer, covered in huge boil like lesions which fill with puss and burst frequently spewing the infectious swill wherever it lands. The Spewers may have the disease but it is only a condition to them not life-threatening. They live their lives in tribes, hunting, gathering and staying away from Sweepers who will randomly come out and shoot and kill them on sight. The Spewers are an intellectual society, with a religious and moral order that they follow before making any decisions, while the "clean faces" think them savage and unable of reasonable thought.

Yet, each side is driven by pure fear for the very existence of their own people, they each become just as vile and torturously murderous as the other. These Spewers can be compared to the zombie but they are much more intelligent and dangerous. The unaffected humans are too scared and fearful to put forth any kind of harmony agreement. While reading the story, both main characters were ethically repulsive to me but I did waver between having more concern for one than the other back and forth through the story. Until the end. Righteously so, at the end of life one can only get back what one freely gave away to others. The end is a fitting one and stunning. Will look for this author again!
Profile Image for A Voracious Reader (a.k.a. Carol).
1,940 reviews1 follower
May 10, 2015

Book source ~ Many thanks to NetGalley and Hydra for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Centuries ago a virus caused a great divide in the people of the United States. The virus caused many people to die, but those that didn’t became carriers capable of infecting others. The sick and carriers were separated from those uninfected and made to live in prison camp conditions. Eventually those infected escaped and built villages far from the others. The infected came to be known as the People amongst themselves, but the others called them Spewers. Spewers called the others Clear Skins, but the others called themselves Settlers.

Tanner Kline is a Settler and a trained Sweeper. He goes outside the settlements and sweeps for Spewers. If he finds any he shoots them. Lila is a protector for the People. She has no gun and uses a spear, her wits and her physical prowess to protect herself and her People from the Sweepers. The meeting between Tanner and Lila creates a spark that ignites a deadly war between the two factions and obliterating the uneasy balance maintained for so many years.

This is a compelling story told from two polar opposite points of view. You have Tanner who is trained to protect the Settlers from the deadly Spewers and you have Lila who is trained to protect the People from the deadly Settlers. Both think they are noble and doing the right thing and yet they are on opposite sides. Who’s to say which group is right? If they had just left each other alone then the ending that comes to pass could have been avoided. Though I have to say I was quite impressed with that final scene. Very clever!

The writing flows smoothly and the tension ratchets up with each page until the grand finale. This is a story that will stick with you when you are finished.
Profile Image for Cassandra Mitchell.
92 reviews61 followers
June 13, 2013
Actual rating: 3.5 stars
The story of me and this book:
Let me start off by saying I would have never chosen this book to read because of the title alone. “Apocalyptic Organ Grinder” is a title that I do not find myself drawn to at all. It makes the book sound gruesome and full of zombies that will only eat puppies once the organs have been ground up. Ew. As someone who loves unicorns, rainbows, and young adult romance novels I did not have high hopes for this short story. Or, actually, any at all for that matter.
Still...I picked it up because I was waiting for a book I ordered to come in the mail, and I wanted a short story to read until then. So I downloaded the book, opened to the first page and this is what happened:

“Once upon a time, in a kingdom called the United States, there lived an evil wizard who thought he was good.”

Right?? I know!
That was the opening line of the first chapter. I was sitting there and I was just like: “What is this book about??? Tell me more!!”

“And that, dear children, is where the fucking fairy tale ends.”

And that was how the first chapter ended. I was hooked. The book goes on to tell the story of Tanner, protector of disease-free humans, and what happens when he is taken by Lila, a diseased human, and the other members of her tribe.

Mr. William Todd Rose is a wonderful writer and I really enjoyed the book. It makes me wonder if I have missed out on other books because of unappealing titles or cover art.
And that, dear children, is why we don’t judge a book by its cover...or its unappealing name.

An advanced readers copy of this book was provided to me from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Profile Image for Taylor.
384 reviews
June 9, 2013
I received this book from Net Galley in return for an honest review. When this book arrived in my inbox, I did not think I would like it at all. The title "Apocalyptic Organ Grinder" sounded gory and unappealing to me. Therefore, I doubt I would ever pick it up off the shelf at a library or bookstore. I would probably be embarassed to do so, no matter how good the ratings. But, I was in between books and the synopsis looked promising so I gave it a go. I figured if it got too gross I could always put it down.

With that being said, I do enjoy a good apocalypse book. I found it interesting how Rose is able to provide a comparison between the lifestyles and beliefs of the Spewers (zombies infected with the Gabriel Virus) and Sweepers (clear skins) in only 100 pages. I found it facinating to read about a zombie apocalypse from the perspective of the infected. I began to really feel for the main zombie character Lilac and at times was mad about the way Tanner (the main clear skin character) treated Lila and her people. At times, the zombies seemed more civilized that the clear skins.

When I neared the end of the novella, the motif of the "organ grinder" emerges. I found this to be superfluous and decreased my rating from a four to three star rating. It seemed out of place, like Rose felt he needed to beef up the story but didn't know how to do so successfully. It added an extra "yuck factor" and nothing of substance. I actually found it a bit confusing and out of place.

My suggestion to the author would be to change the title to make it more appealing to a larger audience and maybe even drop the organ grinder scene completely. I would have enjoyed the book more!
Profile Image for Becky Condit.
2,377 reviews69 followers
June 17, 2013
Apocalyptic Organ Grinder by William Todd Rose is a very dark look at a possible future in which a manmade plague called the Gabriel virus has ravaged mankind, and left two groups of survivors-those who are infected and those who are not. Tanner Kline is a Sweeper, charged with hunting down and killing the Spewers-those who carry the virus, and to also eliminate anyone who becomes infected. A confrontation between him and Lila-a female warrior from a local Spewer tribe leads to death and destruction to both sides.

This character and plot driven story is a dark and grim look into a possible future in which mankind has been ravaged by a manmade plague, leaving two groups of survivors-those who carry the virus and those who don't. Each side has their own version of what happened in the past, and each side regards the other as bloodthirsty savages who only exist to kill. The backstory is told by offering each sides version of the past in fairy tale form, each portraying the old adage " history is written by the winner."

The author's writing style is blunt, clear, concise, and to the point, offering a no holds barred look at what may happen in the future. The characters are a disturbingly blunt look at our darkest emotions and actions, all in the name of survival. The story has a bittersweet ending, and although I enjoyed reading it, it's definitely not for the faint of heart. If you like a book that offers a dark, and definitely not fluffy, then I can recommend this story to you.

Trish's 3 sweet pea review appears at http://mrsconditreadsbooks.com/index.... on June 17, 2013
Profile Image for Jacqueline Patricks.
Author 15 books162 followers
June 19, 2013
I received this ARC Ebook free from Netgalley for my honest opinion.

This is not your typical apocalyptic book. It tells the story of the end of the United States through the eyes of Tanner, Lila and an alternating omniscient narrator.

Tanner is a Sweeper, one of the men responsible for keeping the settlements safe from the infected.
Lila is a Spewer, one of the infected.
Their paths cross in a surprising way as Tanner is outside the settlement.
Between their third person narratives, the omniscient narrator tells the tale of how the apocalypse came to be, how Sweepers and Spewers came into existence out of necessity.

I really enjoyed the different viewpoints and voices each character had, and I especially liked how the omniscient narrator's tales mixed science and fantasy, as if the tales had past through oral histories so long to cause corruption of the original source. I liked the feeling of loss it gave to the over all story.

This is a horror story, dystopian and very much not a happy ending, but then I suppose that depends on which side you root for. Both sides are gray and have strong reasons for the decisions they make. Unfortunately, because of the world they live in, their beliefs and goals clash and create a no win situation.

It is well-written and quickly pulls you along to the inevitable finish.

My only complaint is some of the internal narrative, especially Tanner's, is disjointed. He expressed thoughts after the fact without any prelude, making it feel as if he'd added the thoughts and emotions in last minute.

Overall a creepy, realistic look into an apocalyptic future.
684 reviews42 followers
July 2, 2013
Apocalyptic Organ Grinder is a story of two races divided by a virus: Spewer and the Clear Skin. Each has a different opinions of each other. The story starts with a wizard who dreams and believes he is an hero, created a virus that kills everyone to bring forth paradise. Instead the virus created two races. Those are infected by the virus became a race called the Spewers. The Spewers develop some resistances to the virus however they develop blisters that would opened and spread the virus. The Spewers are still able to live normal lives despite their infection.

The Clear Skin (which is the normal human race not infected with the virus) lives in fear that they and their children will be contaminated. Their main purposes is to wipe out the Spewers so that the normal human race could live.

The irony of this story is that Clear Skin thinks that the Spewers are savages and the Spewers think that the Clear Skin are barbaric. The story does remind me of the the movie "I am Legend." I like the way the intermittent are inserted between the current conflict between Tanner (Clear Skin)and Lilia (Spewer)of how the misunderstanding are conceived over the period of the disease. There is one thing about the story that I don't get is what happen to the wizard. Did he died? Who is searching for the curse? Where is the cause and effect? The story is quite depressing. It is lead by fear and hate.

I have received this book from the publisher in NetGallery for an honest review.
Profile Image for Rachel Tsoumbakos.
Author 42 books101 followers
October 27, 2014
Seriously, this is one of the best post-apocalyptic zombie books I've read in a while! Probably because it looks at both parties equally. Actually, maybe not completely equally. The author starts out telling us the typical zombie story. There is a character called Tanner who is fighting the good fight by ridding the world of Spewers - what they call the infected.

It's all good, you totally hate the Spewers because, you know, they're the baddies. But then the author turns your beliefs on their head by introducing the Spewer viewpoint. Suddenly they aren't just savages that are spreading their contagions around all willy-nilly.

They are humans too.

And this is where I completely fell in love with the book! I really wouldn't call the Spewers zombies by any far stretch of the imagination, but I don't really know what other category to lump them under either, so I will stick with that label for now.

So, if you want a great new take on the zombie genre, I really can't praise this one highly enough! There were a few faults that a final proofread would have fixed up, and a few moments there when things didn't quite add up - once again, a final proofread could have picked this up, but, overall, this novel is worth the few flaws.

I am giving Apocalyptic Organ Grinder by William Todd Rose 4.5 out of 5 stars!
426 reviews7 followers
June 28, 2013
This short, gruesome and enjoyable tale of revenge and misconception has stayed in my mind longer than I expected. The message is a little heavy-handed, but thought-provoking and resonant, with an interesting twist on the zombie genre.

I found the first chapter (after the italicised section) off-putting because of the excessive use of imagery. I counted four similes in one short paragraph (barely a single paragraph goes by without one) and it didn’t work for me in creating atmosphere. But once the first twist in the story appears, I was completely engrossed.

The short length works in its favour as it is enjoyably reminiscent of the horror short stories I used to devour in anthologies and comics as a young teenager. Despite the horrific incidents along the way, there is a grim satisfaction to the denouement. It’s a little predictable but part of the reader’s pleasure is in suspecting what the main character does not. This is not an atmospheric read in the same vein as The Road, but a well-plotted story with a resonant message.
Profile Image for Lelia Taylor.
872 reviews16 followers
October 30, 2014
This is SUCH a cool book for those like me who love post-apocalyptic fiction. What’s left of society has devolved into the most primitive existence and two clans are pitted against each other. The Settlers are as healthy as possible in a world of limited hygiene and medical skills while the Spewers are diseased and infectious, not welcome among the Settlers or anywhere nearby. The Spewers are the new version of Typhoid Marys and literally could destroy the little that’s left of humanity.

Still, the two groups have managed to co-exist by keeping their distance but that will all change when Tanner meets Lila and sees for himself that the Spewers are not just carriers of pestilence and, yet, can’t bring himself to believe they deserve any compassion. The increasing tension and anger that affect both sides is palpable and I found myself drawn to Lila as much as to Tanner but deciding which faction is more deserving of survival is a question still roiling in my mind. Mr. Rose has presented a conundrum that may not have any easy solution, leaving his readers much to think about, indeed.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2014.
Profile Image for Crystal.
431 reviews31 followers
June 14, 2013
This book was given to me by Netgalley when I signed up, and I really didn't want to read it. With a name like Apocalyptic Organ Grinder, I really didn't expect much, if anything at all, but I was pleasantly surprised. The story isn't the typical zombie Apocalypse thing, which honestly, I don't like zombies very much, so that was a relief.

First off, what I expected this book to be was a stupid, horribly written zombie story by an author trying to cash in on the latest fade. In reality this story was very well written, the characters were very well developed and the Apocalypse isn't brought on by Zombies, but by people infected with a virus. I found it amazing that the author can have so much action in such a short work, and also that he was able to show both sides, because ultimately both groups, those infected and those not infected, both want to live in peace, but they can't live in peace together.

Kind of makes you wonder what people would actually do? Would you kill someone to stop a virus from spreading, or would you let it spread and hope that a cure is someday found?
261 reviews7 followers
June 19, 2013
Dystopia. According to one oral history, generations ago, a lone madman made a new fatal disease (with symptoms like bubonic plague) which could spread in air. Supporters infected many people and the infection was spread beyond the USA by air travellers.
Tanner Kline is a Sweeper. He is one of select few trained to hunt down the threat of plague-stricken Spewers.
Lila is a Person. According to another oral history, The People are Chosen and do not die from the Gabriel disease (although adults are infectious and have symptoms). Myths about magical 'Rat' and 'Fly' anthropomorphic personifications remind of Native American beliefs. "Clear skins" (the Pure) appear to be monotheists.
"clutched his antique thirty-aught-six" his what? An obscure reference to the size of his weapon. ".22 bullets" elsewhere, not 'aught twenty-two'.
Spewers are "savage animals... scavenging, hunting, poisoning the world by their presence." But they don't harm rabbits or squirrels.
I read an advance review copy from the publisher.
Profile Image for melissa.
648 reviews12 followers
February 24, 2014
Meh. Maybe a 2.5 but that would be pushing it. It was a bit of an interesting premise as I liked the idea of the infected still surviving and being aware, trying to survive in their own communities. But, I didn't particularly care too much for either faction (Clear Skins or Spewers). This was such a difficult read already with so much hatred and prejudice between the 2 groups, but was compounded by numerous grammar errors throughout the story (unsure if what I was provided is a final copy or advanced, but since it's been out since last year, those errors really should have been caught & corrected).

The brief fairy tale chapters explaining a bit of the back story were really the main interesting parts of this novella.

*Digital review copy provided by NetGalley and the publisher.
Profile Image for Jeremy Stephens.
275 reviews7 followers
May 21, 2011
This extremely dark novella is disturbing. Yet, it's a fascinating kind of disturbing that is hard to stop reading. The way the two cultures in the story are presented is a strange but believable variation of the usual post-apocalyptic theme and the the plot is situated in such a way that there are no "good guys" or "bad guys"- there's just a bunch of miserable people trying to survive. I found that this book had one of the best endings I've read in a long time. This is worth taking a look at.


be sure to check out my review of this book on youtube:

133 reviews
June 7, 2013
A post apocalyptic work of speculative fiction about a world destroyed by the Gabriel virus.

As concepts go it is nothing new, and unfortunately, I felt it did not add anything new to an idea that has been done better so many times before (i.e. I am legend by Richard Matheson).

The characters were always angry and I could not bring myself to care for them or their motivations. What is written to be shocking and revealing, came across as dull and forced. As the characters went through their trials, all I wanted was for the it to be over so I could find something new to read.

I love post apocalyptic fiction, but this really let me down.
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