Day By Day Armageddon (JL Bourne)

4 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is a day by day chronicle of a zombie apocalypse from the perspective of a naval pilot writing in his journal.  Overall, the effect is quite good, although much of the suspense is removed due to knowing that the protagonist will survive due to the existence of later journal entries.  If the lack of suspense doesn’t ruin a zombie apocalypse story for you, though, this is quite good.  The protagonist gets into a series of genre-consistent, believable, interesting situations and has fairly ingenious methods to escape from them.  It also abandons the tired cliche of devoting most of the novel to banal human-on-human interpersonal squabbles and has most of the emphasis on human vs zombie interactions, so if you are hoping for a discourse on the human psychology when faced with insurmountable odds you will be disappointed.  Overall, I would definitely recommend this book, even though I realize its treatment of the zombie apocalypse might turn off fans of the genre who are most attracted to the elements of horror and the fragility of human psyche.

Greater Detail:
A naval pilot keeps a journal chronicling his experiences living through a zombie apocalypse.  In his quest for safety in a ruined world, he finds other survivors and has to band together with them to survive.  Thats pretty much all I can say for a summary without spoilers.

I’m not going to to lie and say that the significant departures that this books makes from the standard zombie apocalypse narrative don’t significantly change the flow of the story, but in my opinion it is for the better.  The first person journal format does make it more difficult for the author to create a tone of suspense for the protagonist’s immediate survival, but honestly, once you realize that the story is following a single character’s experiences through the apocalypse, you’re pretty much assured that he will survive for as many pages as are left in the book and you come to care more about his immediate circumstances than you might if you were being constantly bombarded with zombies jumping out of everywhere for no real reason other than cheap thrills.

Similarly, the abandonment of most tiresome human squabbling is a big departure from the majority of zombie apocalypse stories, but I feel that it is a very good one.  Without every action or decision being bogged down with ceaseless nattering about the moral consequences and whining about everything being too dangerous, the author is really able to move things along faster and focus more on problem solving and creating interesting scenarios for the characters to experience.

If you come to the zombie genre for interpersonal drama and things jumping out at you every few seconds, you aren’t going to like this book, but if you enjoy the more intellectual side of the idea of zombies being everywhere, you’ll probably enjoy this a great deal.  I like to think that this book is one part of a gradual evolution of the genre away from cheap thrills and melodrama to a more cerebral meditation on survival in a familiar world turned hostile, so I would recommend it on that point alone.

Comparisons to Other Authors:
Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson has a similar high minded approach to a zombie invasion, as does (to a little lesser extent) World War Z by Max Brooks.  If you enjoyed this book, you will most likely these titles as well.

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Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy

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