Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer


John Ringo Under a Graveyard Sky

If you think the zombie apocalypse will never happen, if you’ve never been afraid of zombies, you may change your mind after reading Under a Graveyard Sky by John Ringo. The book is the first of at least two novels about the end of the world as we know it. The author has done considerable research into the subject and it shows. The medical jargon doesn’t slow the pacing down but does step up the believability and fear quotient. Ringo makes a sound case for his zombies and the spread of the disease.

The zombies in the novel aren’t supernatural in any way. The undead are the result of an infectious disease dumped into civilization by someone whose identity we do not know. In addition to fighting the zombies, the heroes also face an unknown menace that probably isn’t finished with attempting to destroy the world. I’m not sure in which direction Ringo is going to take this revelation. Baen is a science fiction publisher, so maybe aliens are ultimately behind this, but I’m betting this is more of a manmade attack. There has been no indication.

The story more or less revolves around the Smith family, which I assume is loosely based on the author and his family. Steve Smith is an Aussie military guy who taught high school history for a time. Stacey, his wife, is an engineer. Sophia, the eldest daughter, is a geek and almost as capable as her mom. Faith, the youngest, is an absolute killing machine – by far the most over-the-top and heroic figure in the book. I went from “no way” to “gimme more,” which is what you want a reader to do with a character like that.

Events build slowly in the book at the outset, but you can’t stop reading because it’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion: inexorable and horrible. And the zombie apocalypse in these pages is so fascinating that you can’t stop flipping pages to see what happens next. From the medical background and supposition, to the change in day to day life, everything starts coming apart.

Ringo has a penchant for having fun with his stories, even in the midst of horror. So it’s understandable that he takes his readers to the last concert ever in New York City in a world as we know it. There’s a lot of dark humor that lightens the tone, but that’s a necessary ingredient.

After the final collapse of the world about mid-way through the novel, the focus of the book shifts to the Smiths’ struggle to survive at sea. Here, again, Ringo shines as he begins postulating the underpinnings of a new “government” that might – if they all don’t get killed – emerge from the ashes. The political talk is as lively and interesting as killing zombies in the hallways of cruise ships while sharks circle in the water.

So if you’ve never been a zombie fan, or even for a moment wanted to believe something this apocryphal could happen, I’m recommending this one. Whether you want to call it zombies or a medical disaster, Ringo will have you on the ropes awaiting the next installment.

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