Zero Lives Remaining by Adam Cesare

Zero_Lives_Remaining_(Cover)Adam Cesare’s Zero Lives Remaining really starts off with a bang. I don’t know if I’ve read about someone dying in that particular way before. It’s awesome! I’m getting ahead of myself though. As you can tell from the cover, this book is steeped in nostalgia for the old arcade days. Events take place in the aptly named Funcave.

Following the initial death of the arcade pizza chef, Robby Asaro, during the arcade hey day in 1989, we skip forward to the present. Lots of things have changed but the old faithful arcade machines are still getting used by the gamers who prefer their games as they used to be. One of those is 18 year old Tiffany Park.

Robby Asaro is still in the arcade. Following his death, he became a ghost, or rather a conscious electrical current (which immediately makes me think of Wes Craven’s almost-classic, Shocker). Robby is currently living in arcade machines, depositing ectoplasm (another fun eighties reference). He watches over the machines and those who come into the arcade. Robby is particularly fond of Tiffany since she’s visited the arcade over many years. Plus she’s a good person and skilled gamer. When she gets attacked, Robby kills to protect her. But he finds out that ghosts suffer consequences for killing. He’s not how he used to be, and is now infected with the malevolent force of the one he killed.¬†Tiffany and a gang of other arcade regulars find themselves trapped inside. It’s a fight for survival from that point on.

There’s essentially a soundtrack given to accompany the book, as the author reveals what’s playing on the floor, and it’s full of eighties classics. After the nostalgic arcade build up things really get crazy, including possession and killer worms. The violence and gore is over the top and fun – very fitting for the tone of the book. Some of the¬†inventive and fun kills in the book could have been the work of Tom Savini himself. We have limb dismemberment, a Fulci-esque eye popping scene, and much more.

All told, this is a fun novella that doesn’t take itself too seriously but basks in the nostalgic setting and really makes it work. If your appetite is not piqued yet, then check out the brilliant book trailer below.

8/10

Check out the book trailer:

Book Cover Blurb:

Robby Asaro is dead.

And alive.

He’s a ghost in the machine, keeping a watchful eye on the arcade where he lost his life two decades before. And the afterlife is good. The best thing ever to have happened to him. But when the conscious electric current formerly known as Robby Asaro makes a decision to protect one of his favorite patrons, Tiffany Park, from a bully, he sets loose a series of violent supernatural events that can’t be stopped.

Trapped inside the arcade as the kill count rises, Tiffany and a group of gamers must band together to escape from what used to be their favorite place on Earth…and the ghost of Robby Asaro.

From the author of Tribesmen, Video Night, and The Summer Job, Zero Lives Remaining is a masterful mix of horror and suspense, dread and wonder, a timeless ghost story that solidifies Adam Cesare’s reputation as one of the best up-and-coming storytellers around. This is Adam Cesare firing on all cylinders–and he’s just getting started.