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Publisher's Summary

American Book Fest 2017 Science Fiction Finalist

Joe Warren, an unemployed electrical engineer, has a terminally ill girlfriend and a bank account bumping rock bottom. Jobs are scarce in 2050, since nanotechnology has created the ability to animate the recently deceased, who are put to work performing menial labor at low wages. These Revivants have glutted the job market, leaving their living counterparts out in the cold.

Joe goes looking for a helping hand and mistakenly gets arrested with a group of freedom fighters. The only cause Joe wants to fight for is Joe, but federal agents coerce him into spying on the Children of Liberty.

When Joe reluctantly infiltrates the protest group, he finds something he never expected or wanted. Friends. And he discovers that maybe there are things in life worth fighting - and dying - for.

©2017 Scott Bell (P)2018 Scott Bell

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

book felt unique

“Working Stiffs” is a story that takes the zombie genre in a very different direction than I have previously read.  Imagine a world where those who are dying of some long-term illness or have recently died can be reanimated through a process where these “stiffs” can be put to use in society rather then become a financial burden on their families or the next generation.  This is where the book gets its title, “Working Stiffs”.  Why not utilize these “deadish people” to do menial jobs freeing up the living to focus on their passions or allowing them to have more free time?  In some ways it sounds like a futuristic utopia, at least for the living, yet in other ways it sounds like a zombie horror movie.  The author Scott Bell and narrator J. Scott Bennett do a fine job of dropping the listener into this strange world of the working dead, but it is much more than that.   If you are one who enjoys a unique take on the undead in a rather dystopian society, you may enjoy the various places the author goes in this story.  For me, I thought it had a strong start, but petered out during the second half and ending.  Don’t get me wrong, the book was entertaining, I just see higher expectations for the path it was going to lead me.

The main theme revolves about this futuristic society having the capability of reviving the dead, called revivants, so they can be used for menial work tasks and even contribute to society.  The author does a good job of including the ever-present prejudice of people against the unknown as we see this often in this story.   This ability to animate the dead is not simply a magic spell or forcing a special drink down the person’s throat.  Not at all, in this future world, this task is assigned to nanobots to bring the dead to life.  Although the book did not directly address the issue of bodily decay, one assumes the bots are used to take care of this issue.  I liked the author’s use of the word “deadish” and found it fascinating that society needed to modify many things based on this new classification of life.  No longer was the world simply black and white, binary ones or zeros, dead or alive, now you had a form of people that were neither dead nor alive; similar to Schrodinger's cat.

I enjoyed the many different and unique technology, weapons and tracking technology the author included in the story.  They were not over the top, but still felt a part of this very different world.  I would have liked to have had more development of the technology and how it functioned, mostly around the nanobots, and less of the frequent crude and sexual humor.  A few times, I felt like I was listening to a future apocalyptic Jerry Springer show on TV.  I would have instead like to have had more depth and development of the world and its inhabitants.  I also had to laugh out loud when I learned that crypto-currency not only survived will into the future, but it was the main way people traded goods and services.

It appears the author did some research on the military including some of the political battles between the various services.  In this new government-controlled society, we see the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a much larger role than any of the other branches of service.  Not only are people monitored via surveillance, there are also ways of implanting tracking chips in individuals.  The book opened strongly, and I felt the story was both familiar and unique at the same time.  At first, you find yourself scratching your head on what is going on, and then the author proceeds to unveil the story.  For me, the story got a bit weaker as it progressed as a few of the characters acted out of their expected nature.  I still felt the oppression and gloominess of this world, but I thought the events and action seemed to be disjointed from where I thought the author was initially leading me during the first half of the book.  There is the question of who the good guys are and who are the bad ones, and our main character is in the middle of this battle.  Lastly, it is somewhat unclear if this book is intended to be a series or not based on its ending.  Much of the storyline is closed at the end, but there remain a few open-ended plots.

The narration, not surprisingly, was done very well.  J. Scott Bennett is a veteran in the audiobook area with one hundred and thirty books currently on audible; at the time of this review.  The many different voiced characters were easy to distinguish and there were no noticeable audio artifacts apart from a few slight volume inconsistencies which do not impact one’s listening of the story.  I enjoyed the choice of a narrator having a deeper voice as this give the book a more dark and gloomy feeling than someone with a higher voice.

For parents and young readers, be aware that this book used vulgar language heavily.  The humor often is crude and sexual in nature, along with some quite explicit sexual scenes.  There are also a few scenes and subject matter that would not be appropriate for younger listeners.

To summarize, I felt the book started very strong, but the author seemed to have changed his direction halfway through its writing as some of the characters and story direction felt fragmented.  The book felt unique but not so much so that the listener feels lost.  I would have liked to have had more a focus on the world, technology, and characters then some of the more adult humor; I understand this is more subjective.  The book has action, mystery, and suspense, I just left wanting more.

Audiobook was provided for review by the narrator.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

[If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Cyberzombies! They don't bite, just take your job

Working stiffs is a dystopian cyberpunk action story, or at least it has those elements, because it is also alightly political in its undertones, and makes commentary of certain current events. This doesn't detract or distract, it just adds some depth to what could have been a simple sci-fi tale of nanozombies taking away jobs, and the resistance that builds up from the populace due to the strains it produces.

Bell has a great story here, and really rings some bells, but I think his forte is the written word, and not economics. Some of his conjectures in that regard did not jibe with me, but hey, we have to suspend some disbelief; and who am I to say I understand how finances work in an alternate futruristic reality?

Bennett is a blast as always, and he makes Joe's one liners and wisecracks POP with humor. He is fun to listen to, and the time I spent listening to him just flew by. I will admit, I have heard in him other books and I am a fan of his work. Coming clean, I did receive a promo code to review this book, but that fact has in no way influenced my review. I'd say if there were flaws, one I did point out already,but was extremely happy with this book and the narration Bennett provided.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

'For the Undead, Of the Undead, By the Undead'

This book shows what can happen in a future dystopia where corporations get all of the cheap labor they want while displacing the citizenry. In addition the government gets all of the unrestricted authority it wants, so much so that the Constitution seems to be a suggestion or an afterthought. Yet all the while more citizenry is displaced and taxes are raised to unbearable levels.

In this time, average Joe citizens are left with no jobs, no voice, and an overburdened, underfunded government assistance program where patients cannot afford to be 1 second late, but test results can be backlogged for 6 months. The only thing that stops this book from being a total depression session is the internal monologues and external snark of the main character. Once again the narrator was tailor made for this book as the main character goes from hero to wimpy in under 2.3 seconds (and back again). As I have listened to this narrator a couple of times before, I have commented that his voice can go from awe inspiring and intimidating hero or smooth-talker to the "Why Me? whine in the space of a thought. This is absolutely perfect for the main character who often envisions himself doing the near impossible with ease...the reality of the situation... not so much.

The subtlety of the narrative, despite it's over the top dystopian setting is very well played. The book shines a spotlight on several uncomfortable "what-if?s" that had they been presented in a present day political or social discussions and observations book would have been met with multitudes of detractors and inflamed critics as well as skeptics and anti-conspiracy hardliners. Yet, being presented in a humor-filled almost satirical fictional future, audience members like myself are instead nodding or exclaiming things like "that's true" "we're getting there" "it'll be that way soon" or "been there, done that" and laughing along for the ride.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Leslie F.
  • LONG BEACH, CA, United States
  • 03-06-18

Solid Sci-Fi with a Zombie Twist

I thought this was a solid sci-fi book, and it had kind of an interesting take/twist on zombies. The book held my attention the whole way through. I've enjoyed other books by Scott Bell, and I think this one may be one of my favorites by him. I listened to the narration by J. Scott Bennett, and enjoyed his narration immensely. He always brings a lot to the story and enables me to picture the story perfectly.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very well written and very imaginative

Working Stiffs
By Scott Bell Narrated by J. Scott Bennett

Working Stiffs was well written and very imaginative. The premise of this story is definitely one of a kind. Joe is a bit of an asshole in the beginning but after a few chapters, I grew to love all the characters and how easily I could relate to them. This story starts with a sarcastic, crude and, at times, vulgar man, doing nothing but whining and complaining, but I quickly began to feel for Joe and his girlfriend. Once I gained a better understanding of the world they live in, the story gained speed and it was hard to slow it down, which was awesome! I love when I can’t put a book down, or, in this case, stop listening.

Overall, I loved the story and look forward to reading more of Joe’s adventures. Scott Bennett did an excellent job narrating. I love the way he expresses emotion perfectly with the story.

My honest opinion on Working Stiffs is easily a 4.5 star rating. I loved it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Pam C
  • Wolfforth, TX
  • 02-25-18

Couldn't put it down!

Oh my goodness! I enjoyed this book from start to finish! I stayed up late listening and couldn't wait to put my ear phones on the next day. The story premise is one I have never heard before and it was great! I laughed...a lot. The author's sense of humor is better than most. Scott Bennett is one of my favorite narrators. The timber of his voice, the cadence of his narration and his characters are right on. I try to listen to him any chance I get.
All in all, I definitely recommend this book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This book would make a great movie.

This book would make a great movie. It has action, suspense, an unlikely hero, a cause worth fighting for and an unusual take on zombies. Set in an economically dissolving USA, greed, the thirst for power and mismanagement have brought the county to its knees. The national debt, unemployment and poverty is sky-high, and with the help of nanobot technology, the reanimated dead (Revivants) have replaced human workers, providing a no-questions-asked, controllable workforce. Homeland Security Agents are the sole law, having replaced the military, police and FBI, and they are willing to go to any lengths to maintain the facade of a healthy government. Joe is somewhat of an antihero; he is selfish, sarcastic, lazy and somewhat of a jerk, but you can not help but become attached to him, as he is beaten, manipulated and coerced. Often in the wrong place at the wrong time, he is drawn into the battle between the Homeland Agents, who are trying to hide their plans and the truth from the general populace, and the Children of Liberty who want to reveal the deception. This book has some great characters with lots of different accents and the narrator of the audiobook, J Scott Bennett, did them all expertly. He really brought the characters to life and did a great job of showing the humour and sarcasm in the story too. This is a well written and narrated book that flows well and keeps you entertained to the end. I really hope that the author plans on a sequel, as I would love to listen to more.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting take on the zombie story!

I love stories with an underlying economic theme. I also like personal transformation! The main character is a self-centered guy who starts to care.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

narrator is great but ...

I have tried so hard to like this book. I listened to sample. I found it funny and the narrator great. I have started and stopped this book so many times. I tried I really tried. I still hated it.

the storyline is weak and very boring. the main character is self absorbed and annoying.

unfortunately even a great narrator can't save this book :/

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • norman
  • burlington, nc, United States
  • 02-25-18

Entertaining

This is a highly entertaining,distopian, zombie, novel. I don’t agree with its political slant, but the distopia is sadly realistic. ( Maybe not the Zombies!). Even if I don’t agree with the politics, Scott Bell wrote an entertaining story and I’ll listen to his other works.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Norma Miles
  • 09-04-18

Spells trouble, with a capital 'Oh, sh*t.'

America, 2051. Joe Warren and his live-in girlfriend had queued so long at the hospital, they nearly missed the appointment to hear her test result for which she'd already waited for six months. It wasn't good. She didn't have long to live and treatment was unlikely to be successful - now, if she'd only started treatment some months ago! Desperate for money, with no job, debts to pay and denied dole because his papers were muddled, Joe plans a perfect robbery. If only he'd known that one thing about Revivants...

Related in the first person by Joe, the black humoured story takes place in a futuristic but only slightly distorted world where the few rich citizens have seperated even further from everyone else, especially since the introduction of the zombie-like free labour force of people, dead or nearly so, reanimated by nanode injections. Initially very funny, the book turns into a quirky thriller as Joe finds himself ever more involved with the protest group, the Children of Liberty.
Narration by J.Scott Benett is, as always, superb, his pleasant to hear voice perfectly mirroring Joe's attitudes and misadventures as he struggles through the situations in which he finds himself. A great reinterpretation of the zombie genre, with good characterisation, observations on the downward spiral of society and often very funny.
A definite recommendation.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • victoria macdonalf
  • 03-27-18

Truly terrible

Awful narration, very little content just sounds like some druggy rambling. couldn't listen to the end.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Terence Thirteen
  • 03-14-18

BELL's BEST

A brilliantly written dystopian thriller, set in a future that, except for the presence of neo-zombie Revivants, bears a disturbing resemblance to America, today. (Then again, many people do wonder through the workweek and their workplaces, as if in a zombie-like state...)

The author definitely has "a way with words" and successfully weaves dry wit, sarcasm, black comedy and a never-ending stream of snide comments and wisecracks, into an immensely entertaining and engaging story.

J. Scott Bennett was the absolute best choice, as narrator. He delivers...