Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Under a Graveyard Sky by John Ringo

Faith takes a breather from killing zombies.
Zombies! There's just no escaping them. I know some of you will be thinking, "thank God Vampifan has stopped doing his posts about Chibi fantasy figures!" No names mentioned, but you know who you are! Well, sorry to disappoint you but this is just a short break from my SDE stuff.
It has been a long time since I read a zombie novel. A couple of weeks ago I read a review of a zombie novel called Under a Graveyard Sky by John Ringo on Shelldrake's Zombie Wargame Blog run by my good friend Ian, aka Patient Zero, administrator of the Board of the Living Lead forum. See here - http://zombiewargame.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/john-ringos-black-tide-rising-zombie.html
Ian liked this novel because the hero was an Aussie and Ian lives in Australia. I was interested in reading it because a) it's a zombie apocalypse novel, b) I'm happy to be persuaded by other people's recommendations and c) I've read a few of John Ringo's sci-fi novels and very much enjoyed them. So I had high hopes of this novel, which, by the way, is part one of a proposed four-part series called Black Tide Rising.
The story focuses on a family of four who are well prepared for almost any disaster, including a zombie apocalypse, which they never believed would happen. Steven John "Wolf" Smith is a naturalised American citizen, former Australian paratrooper and most recently, a high school history teacher. His wife, Stacey aka "Momma Wolf" is a first class mechanic and self-professed geek. They have two daughters, Sophia aka "Seawolf," a 15-year old student, who is good looking, level-headed and intelligent, and Faith aka "Shewolf," a 13-year old firebrand who is very tall for her age and who takes to killing zombies like a duck to water. The family have a survival plan, which they employ as soon as they receive advance news of the upcoming zombie plague from Steve's brother, Tom. Tom works in a private research facility as a scientist and his company is well aware of the threat a newly discovered plague poses. The Smith family grab a boat, stock it full of supplies and head out to sea. A good plan. However, things change dramatically, when they find other boats at sea, whose crews need rescuing. Rather than ignore them they do the right thing and help them. So begins their new mission - save humanity - one boat at a time. This they do in a small way by rescuing anyone in distress at sea, as well as clearing out boats that are overrun with the infected.
Steve is an excellent strategist and a charismatic leader. Stacey excels at ship repairs. Sophia becomes a highly competent helmswoman. And Faith, well, she truly excels at killing zombies. Not only is she VERY good at killing them but she thoroughly enjoys killing them. Soon the family have a flotilla of ships under their command, which they name Wolf Squadron. Most of the world's population were wiped out by the zombie plague but there still remains pockets of humanity. The US Navy suffered catastrophic loses but many of their submarine fleet remained safe. Those in the vicinity of Steve's ragtag collection of survivors take a keen interest in what he is doing and make their presence known. I won't spoil things by saying whether they help or hinder Wolf Squadron.
The book is fast-paced, very exciting and quite humourous. John Ringo is a military veteran, so he knows the jargon and writes very believable scenes and dialogue relating to all things military. The stand out character in the book is 13-year old Faith who steals every scene she is in. Yes, she is a zombie killer par excellence, but her fight scenes are handled realistically. Personally speaking, whenever Faith appears in the book, my face just lights up. She is very much larger than life but I love her. As one Gunnery Sergeant said to her, "damn, I wish you were legal so I could ask you to marry me!" She makes a lasting impression on everyone she meets and especially on this viewer.
I am about half way through the second novel in the series, To Sail a Darkling Sea and it is every bit as good as the first novel. Book three, Strands of Sorrow is released in paperback format at the end of this month. I will be buying it on that day. This a series that I can highly recommend. I'm happy to give Under a Graveyard Sky a 9 out of 10 rating only because it ends rather abruptly, leaving you wanting more. I ordered my copy from Amazon UK, where the paperback version is currently on sale for £6.50. The Kindle edition costs £4.49.

25 comments:

  1. I am very glad you enjoyed it - I was nervous having recommended it in case you and others wouldn't enjoy the book.

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    1. Oh, Ian, you need not have worried. It is one of the best zombie novels I have read. Besides which, you can't fail but to fall in love with Faith! What a character!

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  2. A very detailed review; thanks! Sadly, I've too many books awaiting my attention already, so I'll have to put this on the "maybe, future" list.

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    1. No problems. I can fully understand, Hugh.

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  3. Great series, the 4th book is not quite up to the standard of the rest but as it was an unplanned addition that is understandable.

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    1. Thanks for that heads up, Mike. Good or bad, I'll still buy it.

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  4. I am still yet to read a zombie book as I struggle to find the time to sit quietly and read. I will file this away and maybe one day......

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    1. Fair enough, Chris. I'll take a "will maybe read" over a "will never read" any day.

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  5. Thank goodness you have stopped banging on about chibi gerbil stuff! (Yes I know who I am).

    Having NEVER read a zombie novel I was wondering where I should start as you seem to have sucked me into wanting to read one now. Make it a semi old one so I can get it cheaply on eBay to try out.

    Thanks in advance Bryan.

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    1. Hee, hee, hee! "Chibi gerbil stuff!" What an hilarious description! :)

      OMG! You have NEVER read a zombie novel? Start out with World War Z by Max Brooks. It is FAR, FAR better than the abysmal film of the same name. Every zombie fan should have a copy of this novel in their collection.

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    2. Thanks Mate. I have the Max brook Zombie survival guide so WWZ is probably the place to start.

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    3. There you go then. Decision made!

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  6. Good review I've never read anything by John Ringo but I've heard of him. I shudder to say this but I've been reading everything on Kindle lately (don't hate me Edward) because its easier during my commute so I might consider the Kindle edition. You might like my current Kindle series (not available in book form) Slow Burn by new author Bobby Adair a z-day series in the vain of 28 Days later. And don't pay attention to Clint he's a grump.

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    1. No need to apologise about reading books on Kindle, Robert. It is something I have just started doing. Although I must admit, I still love my paperback books even if they are dearer and take up space.

      Clint might be a grump but I'm sure his heart is in the right place. He does have a heart, doesn't he?

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  7. Yeah! No chibi fantasy nonsense. I know who I am too. In all seriousness this sounds like a good read Dude. I've also got a big pile of stuff awaiting my attention, I'll see if I can squeeze it in.

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    1. I knew you'd appreciate this post, Bob. See, I haven't totally forgotten zombies now have I? I hope you can manage to find the time to buy this novel and read it.

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  8. Sounds interesting? I'll look out for it.

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  9. Sounds awesome. Will have to pick up a copy!

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    1. It is awesome and the setting is unusual, You don't get many zombie novels set at sea. As I said to Ray, go for it!

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  10. Terrific stuff Brian. Sounds v good indeed. Certainly I'll b seeing whether it's on audible so I can listen to it. Good recommendation ref world war z too. I read your review of the film recently. Clearly u saw a diff movie to me. Fantastic film which I thoroughly enjoyed!!! I fear your chibi

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  11. ... Stupid iPhone!! I fear your chino choices have warped your zedness

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    1. Simon, I'm glad you enjoyed my review of "Under a Graveyard Sky." I have no idea if it is available as an audio book. Sorry.

      Oh dear, you mentioned the WWZ film. It is without doubt, the worst zombie film I have ever seen. Other than its title it bears no relation to the excellently written novel. No, I hated this film long before my love of Chibi gaming took root, so don't blame that. I could give you a very long list of reasons why the WWZ film is so shite but that would take far too long. Plus, where do I begin to describe its many failings? I'm afraid on this matter we must agree to disagree.

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    2. Bryan, I've found the audio and will hav a listen. I agree that wwz is nothing like the outstanding book, and your superb review of the film makes it clear why u hated it. I'm not sure actually why I like it so much as the cgi is awful but having seen it a good 20 times it holds a place in my affections. Happy to agree to disagree my friend.

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    3. I am so pleased to hear that you've found an audio version of the book, Simon. I do hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

      Yes, let's agree to disagree on the WWZ film.

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