Zoe, Undead

J. R. Knoll

Book Cover

GENRE

THRILLER.

    Core Theme

    SURVIVAL.

    TIME PERIOD

    Contemporary

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    DAWN OF THE DEAD, 28 DAYS LATER, WORLD WAR Z

    CHARACTER LIST

    ZOE: 17. AUTISTIC. INQUISITIVE. COMPASSIONATE. COURAGEOUS. INTELLIGENT.

    FATHER. 40S.

    MOTHER. 40S.

    BROTHER. 15.

    ZACHARY. 18. ALLY.

    SERGEANT MORRIS. 50S. ALLY.

    Logline

    Zoe is only seventeen. She is autistic, and alone. And infected. However, the virus that has made most of humanity into a population of mindless, murdering zombies was unable to rewrite her autistic brain. And now, Zoe may just hold the key to the survival of the human race.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 13-17,18-34,35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    Undisclosed city, U.S.A.

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: KDP

    Year Published: 2012

    Starting Description

    Zoe's family is in a rush to flee their home and their city ahead of the zombie onslaught. She is only told they are going on a trip. As she is helping her brother load the van, the zombies arrive and she is bitten, and sent to hide in the garden shed as the family tries to fend off the zombies.

    Ending Description

    Now a cognitive zombie, Zoe finds a place among the Zombie Response Team, and finds herself at the center of their efforts to take the city back from the zombies.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    1478323280

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Coming of Age,Happy Ending,Meaningful Message,Twist

    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain,Other,Tragedy

    Main Character Details

    Name: Zoe Rebecca Templeton

    Age: 17

    Gender: Female

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Charming,Clumsy,Complex,Desperate,Engaging,Faithful,Insecure,Naive,Underdog,Selfless,Funny,Strong Moral Code

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Sergeant William Morris

    Age: 28-30

    Gender: Male

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Badass,Aggressive,Charming,Confident,Decisive,Engaging,Faithful,Heartthrob,Heroic,Honorable,Leader,Masculine,Patriotic,Selfless,Skillful,Strong Moral Code,Unapologetic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Doctor Rachel Caswell

    Age: 40

    Gender: Female

    Role: emotional

    Key Traits: Charming,Complex,Confident,Empathetic,Selfless,Engaging,Faithful,Gracious,Sophisticated,Educated,Leader

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Colonel Halstead

    Age: 55-60

    Gender: Male

    Role: mentor

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Masculine,Badass,Aggressive,Complex,Confident,Patriotic,Decisive,Blunt,Selfless,Engaging,Outspoken,Skillful,Funny,Heroic,Honorable,Leader,Strong Moral Code

    Development Pitch

    Zoe is only seventeen. She is autistic, and alone. And infected. However, the virus that has made most of humanity into a population of mindless, murdering zombies was unable to rewrite her autistic brain. And now, Zoe may just hold the key to the survival of the human race. This is the story of an autistic teenage girl's journey through a hellish time when the world is in chaos and the human race is on the brink of extinction. Packed with action and tense moments, heartbreaking loss and the elation of new discovery, this rare story is told from the point of view of someone with autism spectrum who has not even experienced adulthood. Zoe is a charming but very volatile girl who, with the help of the people she meets along the way, finds a purpose in her life as a half zombie who is helping to lead the charge to retake the city from the undead. Along the way, after her family is lost to the zombies, she faces old prejudices faced by those with autism, but also finds herself in the company of a few people who dare to take her in and call her family. Character driven, this is a new kind of zombie story that is sure to capture the attention and imagination of all ages, and without excessive gore or swearing, would be suitable for most ages, pre-teen through adult.

    Genre

    ACTION, THRILLER

    Brief

    When a zombie outbreak occurs, 17-year-old autistic Zoe is bitten and ends up hiding in a mall until a Zombie Response Team offers hope for her salvation.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: GOOD

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: GOOD

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    It is accurate.

    Draw of Story

    ZOE UNDEAD offers an interesting spin on the zombie movie through its protagonist Zoe and the Asperger’s Syndrome which affects her daily life (formerly called Asperger’s Syndrome, this condition today is known as Autism Spectrum Disorder). This condition is relatively unexplored in film and TV today despite the huge number of people worldwide who also live with this condition (as many as 1 in 44 children in the U.S., according to the CDC). Although the zombie element to this story, which is the bulk of the story, has been done a thousand times, this is the first story this reader is aware of which puts an exploration of autism at the front of such a story, and this is by far this story’s greatest attribute, particularly because such an exploration is done here in so authentic-feeling a manner.

    Possible Drawbacks

    Aside from the autism element, this story is otherwise one we have seen a thousand times as a zombie outbreak sends America hurtling toward apocalypse while the protagonist and others attempt to survive by hiding out in building such as shopping malls and battle zombies. The quality of the writing shows room for improvement, with lots of repetition in action and dialogue, while the characters often sound the same when they speak, lacking distinct identities. The biggest issue is the story’s reliance on cliche, contrived events, and overly familiar tropes.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The hook is that the protagonist, a 17-year-old girl, lives and often struggles with the condition of autism spectrum disorder while a zombie outbreak plunges America into apocalypse.

    Fanbase Potential

    A film which compassionately and authentically explores autism could acquire a dedicated fanbase of people with, or close to others living with, this condition while the story, appealing to a wide audience, could result in a large fanbase as well.

    Awards Potential

    Not particularly; the awards community tends to overlook genre fare. However, films which compassionately and authentically explore conditions such as autism often do well at awards season.

    Envisioned Budget

    LARGE BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    DAWN OF THE DEAD, 28 DAYS LATER, WORLD WAR Z

    What’s New About the Story

    The only thing truly original about this story is its compassionate and authentic exploration of autism. Otherwise, we’ve seen every other element a thousand times. The story could be more unique by replacing the zombie outbreak with a new, more original crisis plunging America into apocalypse. Zombies have been done so much at this point that almost any other crisis would arguably stand out more in the marketplace.

    Lead Characters

    Zoe stands out as she struggles with autism in an increasingly chaotic world. The other characters bleed together.

    Uniqueness of Story

    No; it requires improvement across all areas.

    Possible Formats

    Film: Studio, Indie, Streaming TV Series: Network, Cable, Limited Run / Mini-Series, Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    The story and most of its elements we have seen many, many times.

    Tips for Improvement

    More originality in terms of plot and character is required in order for this story to be considered.

    Brief

    When a zombie outbreak occurs, 17-year-old autistic Zoe is bitten and ends up hiding in a mall until a Zombie Response Team offers hope for her salvation.

    What We Liked

    ZOE UNDEAD offers an interesting spin on the zombie movie through its protagonist Zoe and the Asperger’s Syndrome which affects her daily life (formerly called Asperger’s Syndrome, this condition today is known as Autism Spectrum Disorder). This condition is relatively unexplored in film and TV today despite the huge number of people worldwide who also live with this condition (as many as 1 in 44 children in the U.S., according to the CDC). For this reason, a film exploring this condition in the authentic manner this story does would be a welcome addition to the marketplace, and could use this element as a hook for marketing purposes. The inclusion of this condition in the
    story enhances Zoe’s arc in the story as she grows throughout the story from a more naive 17-year-old living safely with her family to an independent young woman who fights for her life, independently. In this way, ZOE UNDEAD is a clever coming-of-age tale which explores simultaneously autism and the breakdown of American society in the wake of an existential crisis, bolstered by a thrilling, twisty plot and fast pace.

    Film: Film is the ideal format for adaptation of ZOE UNDEAD. The novel follows the classic three-act structure and could be adapted easily into a feature-film format for this reason, while the content of the story is ideal for a summer blockbuster-type movie release that could be a huge hit theatrically or on a streamer. A film adaptation of this story would have something for everyone in the audience, and therefore could draw a large viewership.

    TV: ZOE UNDEAD could be adapted effectively into a TV series because, as seen with THE WALKING DEAD, the setting and world-building of an America consumed by a zombie apocalypse offer potentially unlimited avenues for plotlines and character arcs to explore throughout the course of the show, and as that aforementioned TV show has made obvious, there is a massive audience for such a show. A bonus for this story is how it explores autism spectrum disorder—something a TV could explore with creativity over many seasons, which would help to make this show unique.

    Key points:
    1) Authentically and compassionately explores autism spectrum disorder.
    2) Entertaining blend of action, thrills, and drama.
    3) Has something for everyone, drawing a universal audience.
    4) Well paced.
    5) A coming-of-age story wrapped inside a zombie apocalypse story which also explores
    autism.

    Synopsis

    Life seems constant for 17-year-old Zoe as she is watching a television show. She has Asperger’s syndrome and is fixated on maintaining her general routine, which means that at the moment, she is free to watch her favorite TV show. A zombie outbreak occurs and Zoe gets bitten by a zombie. Her skin turns grey but she does not turn into a full zombie, and her life is spared by a Zombie Response Team fighting back against the horde. Later, a Zombie Response Team rescues Zoe and some others and they go to a hospital base.

    Peace is restored for a while until the zombies find the hospital base and rally in large numbers to attack it. The team gains the support of another Zombie Rescue Team that had tankers. As such, they are able to secure the hospital base and retain its services. Since they have more personnel and weapons, they are in a better position to defend the whole region.

    About The Author

    J. R. Knoll is a novelist from the little town of Blanco in the Texas Hill Country where he went to high school and played football for the Blanco Panthers. Later, he served on the Blanco Volunteer Fire Department, the United States Air Force, and is now employed at The Home Depot in Dripping Springs. He lives in the house his grandfather built with his wife, Tami, and three of their boys and three dogs. He enjoys quiet afternoons by the Blanco River on the weekends, or unleashing a little chaos and mayhem with the guys. Writing has been his passion since childhood and Knoll has recently released his twenty-third book.