• The Rising

  • By: Brian Keene
  • Narrated by: Joe Hempel
  • Length: 11 hrs and 16 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (456 ratings)

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The Rising

By: Brian Keene
Narrated by: Joe Hempel
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Publisher's Summary

Since its 2003 debut, Brian Keene's The Rising is one of the best-selling zombie novels of all-time. It has been translated into over a dozen languages, inspired the works of other authors and filmmakers, and has become a cultural touchstone for an entire generation of horror fans.

The Rising is the story of Jim Thurmond, a determined father battling his way across a post-apocalyptic zombie landscape, to find his young son. Accompanied by Martin, a preacher still holding to his faith, and Frankie, a recovering heroin addict with an indomitable will to survive, Jim travels from state to state and town to town facing an endless onslaught of undead hordes and the evils perpetrated by his fellow man.

©2003 Brian Keene (P)2017 David N. Wilson

Featured Article: Mmmm, Brains...Satisfy Your Cravings with the 20 Best Zombie Audiobooks Ever


Zombies have been a potent cultural force for decades. Something about the concept of a ragtag crew of survivors facing off against endless masses of shuffling brain-munchers really seems to speak to people! There are hundreds, if not thousands, of zombie-themed stories out there. But which ones are the very best? And which zombie audiobooks will have you double-checking the locks and sleeping with a baseball bat next to your bed?

What listeners say about The Rising

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Different type of zombie story

This is an unusual, action packed and somewhat disturbing story. Yes, like in the usual zombie tales, the dead do rise but they are not the shambling, mindless zombies that normally occur in this type of story. The dead, both human and animal, are just vessels for something more sinister and deadly. I must admit though, that the thought of a zombie fish did make me laugh and yet somehow it seemed to fit ok in that section of the story. No, this story wasn't perfect and it lacked detail in some places, but the multiple stories of different individuals do interweave to form a picture of desperation, strength, survival, immorality, loss and love. The narration in this newly released (07/2017) audiobook is great. The narrator lets you feel the horror and loss; the cold hatred of the risen dead, the guilt and responsibility Baker feels, the depravity of the meat wagon and the anguish as Jim desperately tries to reach his son. Overall I enjoyed this story but I did find the ending rather abrupt and somewhat frustrating

10 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The Rising Part I

As everyone else has mentioned this is a different take on zombies which is quite refreshing. Even if you remove the zombies from the story, the plot, although familiar, is enjoyable. The different style zombies adds a uniqueness to the story and I am sure the second and third book will only get better as we learn more about them. There were a few aspects of the book I didn’t care for, namely getting invested in characters only to have them die.
This isn’t a standalone book and I wasn’t aware of that until the very end. Really looking forward to the next one because this book ends like the season of your favorite tv show, incomplete and forcing you to wait eagerly for the next one.
Joe Hempel as always did a fantastic job and at this point if his name is on the book I know that I will enjoy it.
I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.

9 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Unique.

I always try to make my own synopsis when writing a review, but with this one I would probably spoil something, so I think the synopsis of the book says it all....... "THE RISING is the story of Jim Thurmond, a determined father battling his way across a post-apocalyptic zombie landscape, to find his young son. Accompanied by Martin, a preacher still holding to his faith, and Frankie, a recovering heroin addict with an indomitable will to survive, Jim travels from state to state and town to town, facing an endless onslaught of undead hordes, and the evils perpetrated by his fellow man."

I wasn't too sure what to expect going into this because there are some pretty negative reviews for it, but thank goodness it was better than I hoped. One thing that stands out the most is the Zombies. I loved the spin the author put on them. How they came about is definitely unique!!! Plus they are sentient, can think and plan and can shoot, drive and pretty much do everything. The Zombiness isn't just limited to humans either. Anything that can die will turn into one, so we have Zombie goldfish which is something I've never ever read before!!!

if you suspend disbelief, then the plot is good!! I liked how focused Jim is on finding his son and his journey there was filled with a lot of danger. I liked reading about the other characters and their journeys and I enjoyed seeing how they meet, but it was hard to connect with them all, as I thought they weren't fleshed out enough. I just didn't really care too much about them.

In all, this was a very different take on the Zombie books I usually read. It was a good read and the ending left me wanting to read the next book in the series. I'm hoping they bring it to audio soon!!

Joe Hempel is a narrator I find myself listening to more and more because he knows how to tell a good story. He has an array of tones and voices and always knows how to amp up the tension when needed. I hope he narrates the next one!!

I was voluntarily provided this audiobook for free from the author, narrator, or publisher. This in no way affected nor influenced my thoughts.

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Good, Unconventional Zombie Story

I've become a fan of Brian Keene lately, given this book and the sequel. It has an original take on Zombies that I liked and found refreshing after years of the mindless flesh eaters we are all used to. I loved the overall tone, although I'm not sure if that was due to the writing or the excellent narration.

In terms of the narration, I think I grow more impressed with Joe Hempel with every book of his I listen to. He isn't one of those narrators who sounds like a full cast (like Katherine Kellgren, for instance), but he seems to bring a different tone to every book he narrates, which is perfectly suited to the story. I don't know if he does it on purpose or not, but it definitely works. He is one of those narrators I keep an eye out for.

I received this book for free at my request from the author, publisher or narrator and have voluntarily left this review.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Totally Different!

As advertised, this is a unique take on the classic zombie tale with some surprising and satisfying elements. The characters are complex, dynamic, and diverse - a really nice fresh breath of air in that regard. The epic narrative takes our protagonists through obstacle after obstacle in the hellish post-apocalyptic landscape. This story felt disturbingly possible to me; Keene's imagination has a realism quality to it. Joe Hempel, one of my very favorite narrators, does this intense adventure justice.

All of that said, I hated the ending so much it nearly ruined the book for me. Sometimes I think authors think they're clever when leaving cliff hangers but to me it reads as lazy or afraid to make a bold choice. If you want answers to questions posed throughout, then this book isn't for you.

I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Keene and Hempel are an excellent pair!

The Rising by Brian Keene is a horrifying, nightmare inducing listen!  (When I read it in book form I thought that was scary enough but now, listening to it as an audiobook I know better!)

Jim Thurmond was a prepper who prepared an underground bunker for when the end of the world came along.  Little did he know he’d need it but not for the reasons he believed.   There are just some things a father and a husband should never have to do, ... except, unfortunately, Jim.  Contemplating suicide after having removed his pregnant and now dead wife from his bunker, Jim receives a call from his son – his son who needs him.  Jim must now traverse through hundreds of miles of zombies of all kinds, maniac men who believe they are in charge and try to rescue his son.  With the aid a few good people he encounters along the way he sets out to rescue his son.  Will he be in time?

Brian Keene is the master of horror.  His books are terrifying as they demonstrate time and again how no one is in control, chaos truly does rule.  Keene is detailed and his imagery is perfect instilling complete and total fear.

Joe Hempel, the narrator did an excellent job of performing the book.  His talent shines through as he voices the wide range of emotions each person experiences from fear to desperation to psychotic.  Hempel excelled at providing this already terrifying book with more horror as he captured the emotions perfectly.  Well done!

If you love horror – these two – Keene and Hempel are an excellent pair!

There were no issues with the audiobook or the quality of the production.

Audiobook was purchased for review by ABR.

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

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

4 people found this helpful

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  • TU
  • 08-07-17

Can't believe I missed this one in print!

I was given this free review copy audio book at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Can't believe I missed this one in print. I'm a huge zombie genre fan and thought I had exhausted pretty much all of the greats. I thought this was a great spin on the genre, though fast zombies a FAR scarier than the traditional shambling undead. Add to that zombie animals and it makes this one truly unique. The narrator was great and the story was well written and engaging. A must have for any Zombie Apocalypse fan.

4 people found this helpful

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this books the best zombie story I've come across

Brian Keene is my favorite author every horror fan should read his books !

3 people found this helpful

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  • Al
  • 09-04-17

A solid story

Pretty good story, narrator stays mostly out of the way. I would check out the sequel.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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What was with all the religious stuff?

2.5 stars rounded up to 3, because maybe I just didn't get it the way I was supposed to?

Anyhoo...

I remember when I first saw Stargate, and marveled at how conveniently wormholes were used to explain religion, mysticism and other oddities in human history. When an author can take an overused theme, and give it a fresh explanation that enriches the myth, it's priceless. That kind of enhancement is exactly what Brian Keene weaves into the world of The Rising.

We have a mixed bag of Thetan-style body occupiers, a la Scientology, mixed with evil Christian demons, jumbled up to give rise to zombies. We get the explanation for why zombies only maim then move on (hint: they need our bodies). We also get a lot of references to Stephen King's works, through direct quotes ("Danny's not here, Mrs. Torrance") and characters with nods to popular ones in his novels, like John of Many Colors for The Stand's Trashcan Man. It's a whole lot of pop horror culture woven into one ultra-campy zombie novel.

And then all those cool ideas fizzle into half-developed characters, "off" dialogue and weird gore.

There was a sharp emphasis on how badly people behave during the apocalypse, mostly that men will immediately turn the clocks back a few hundred years and start gleefully raping and pillaging, and we lose focus on the zombies themselves. I get that this is supposed to be bloody and gory, but could the evil and bloody destruction have been at the hands of the bad guys (the zombies) and not mostly perpetrated by the humans trying to survive?

And while I'm complaining, what was with all the religious stuff? Seriously, all the Bible verses and prayers were too much. The Martin/preacher character and the constant discussion of God, Jesus, faith, and actual prayer recitations were tedious. I wish this book had been identified as Christian fiction, because I would have known it was not for me.

Even though I have the Author's Preferred Edition in audio, which I hear is considerably cleaned up from the original publication, the writing could still use a great deal of editing and polish. It reads like a raw and unfinished self-published novel. There exist a multitude of forced, awkward or incorrect phrases, more than I could keep up with while listening:

"murmur of consent", when it should have been assent
"delay that order", when it should have been belay

We also endure a lot of one-liners that are way too cheesy, especially when coming from the zombies. Certainly nothing quotable or meaningful can be found in there, just a bunch of awkwardly campy dialogue.

As for the audio, the narrator, Joe Hempel, had a few mispronunciations, but overall did a more than admirable job of differentiating the characters' voices. I was thankful for this, because the characters were not developed well enough for me to tell the difference between them without his addition of inflections and accents.

Frustratingly, the story ends very abruptly, literally on the threshold of resolving the single driving plot point of the novel. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, the manipulation of the reader to buy the next book in the series, so I guess I'll never find out.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Alan Preece
  • 04-28-20

1st Book in a series.

For reasons I won't go into I stopped reading books back in the late 1990's and resumed reading them in 2017, the stresses of life during those twenty-seven or so years giving me little time to sit back and disappear into a book.

When I did start reading again (after buying one of those little eletronic book-type thingies) I started researching on what I had missed, and this I did by the obligatory internet seach-engines with something like “the best horror novels of the 90's”.

Eventually I came across a writer called Brian Keene, apparently a famous fella, and I selected a book pretty much at random from the cheaper end of the e-book spectrum; which turned out to be called “The Rising”, later I found the book in an audio format (narrated by Joe Hempel) and took the plunge.

Okay. I thought, lets give it a go; and so I did.

Now I'm a horror fan, and I have been since a nine year old me watching zombie movies and a ten year old me watched slahser flicks. By the time I was fifteen I had thousands of videocassettes (remember those?) and I have probably seen a fair few hundred zombie movies, so I'm pretty much zombied-out; or at least I thought I was.

The Rising sets the walking dead amidst a decidedly religious themed apocalypse that effectively changes all the rules we've been used to regarding the living dead.

Which for me was a welcome change.

These zombies talk and drive, work in teams and hatch plans that hint at an even darker truth behind it all that our heroes can barely guess at. Through this story we follow pockets of survivors, each with thier own mission, as they gradually converge on a rogue military base and the mad commander that runs it.

Theres a good amount of action on-hand and more than a little gore that spurs the reader on into a densely packed world that moves at an enviable pace across half of middle America; but thankfully we are in good hands with Joe Hempel as our narrator, who keeps things snappy and does not impede the books pacing.

As I hit the final minutes of the book I was already seaching for the second book in the series, purchasing it and downloading it as the final seconds of the first story rolled by and I'm certain that this sequel, City of the Dead, will not be the last Brian Keene book I'll be working through over the coming months.

Even if you're zombied-out as I was, this one might just make you revisit those lovable cadavers and their overly enthusiatic hickey's; really, all they want is some affection.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Alan Green
  • 02-07-21

You can't beat a good Zombie Apocalypse

This is good; it grabs hold of you from the start and doesn't let go. The story is well balanced and proceeds without boring passages or unexplained jumps. The narrator does a good job of keeping you on board. I really enjoyed this; the follow-up is next in my Library to listen to and I really can't wait to get stuck in.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anthony
  • 12-01-20

A fantastic novel

This has to be one of the best books I have heard in the genre it deals with the brutal end of anything human but yet still shines a torch of hope for mankind,I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it

3 people found this helpful

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  • D. Woodhouse
  • 04-27-21

A zombie apocalypse with a twist

I read this book back when it was first published in paperback in 2004 and loved it. 17 years later and I've rediscovered just how much I truly enjoy Brian Keene's writing style. Out of the myriad zombie novels I've read/listened to over the decades this one really stood out (along with the sequel). Joe Hempel's narration is exemplary and his characterisations wonderful.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Brandon Bloc
  • 08-04-20

foul mouthed book

Couldn't continue due to the racism and levels of swearing. like an open sewer. ouch

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Kunserned Kustomer
  • 07-13-22

Blinded by the searing white

I have listened to probably some hundred audiobooks now, and I can say with no hesitation whatsoever that this is the worst narrator I've ever witnessed. You will cringe as he tries to do children's and women's voices.

I am genetically a full blooded white man; I have no other race in me so far as I am aware, my heritage coming entirely from very white cultures. This narrator makes me feel very unwhite. The whiteness of an albino Norweigan would shrivel in comparison to his towering whiteness, and yet this mad lad tries to put on a sassy jiving voice to immitate a black woman while dropping N bombs like they're going out of fashion, immitating afro-american gangsters like he's cosplaying half the cast of GTA San Andreas including calling people crackers etc. Its occasionally funny but mainly painful.

If you want to take this book seriously, READ it. Do not listen to this version. If you die a little when he's attempting to imitate a child early on, please come to this review section and back me up.

Oh right... story is mechanically intriguing and sells itself on watershed moments of grey atrocity, but ultimately nothing brilliant. A functionally satisfying book about scurrying like cockroaches away from a big shoe. If you want to be inspired go read The Virgin Suicides or something This book is more like a 40k novel - it's porn for conspiracy theorist doomsday preppers who want to justify their firearms purchase with fantasies about merking their fellow man, especially that one JERK your wife ran off with.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-20-22

Another unremarkable zombie slog

I never give reviews on audible but this book irritated me to the point of giving my half-baked opinion and, like such an opinion, you're going to wonder how much more you have to listen to before it's over.
Now most of my frustration does come from the ending, the kind that... actually I don't have the energy. This book gives you zombies with more personality and humour than any of the characters, twists you can see trudging toward you from the horizon and enough tropes to actually turn you into a cheese and ham sandwich.