Under A Graveyard Sky – A Review

Under A Graveyard Sky – A Review

Under A Graveyard SkyWe don’t talk much about zombies here at Prepography… except on Halloween when the zombies come out to play… so when I heard that one of my favorite military writers, John Ringo had tried his hand at the zombie genre I couldn’t help but pick it up with an eye towards a Halloween zombie book review of Under A Graveyard Sky…but then I liked it so much I read the whole series…

John Ringo’s a military veteran and specifically a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division where I spent my first few years in the Army.  From the first time I picked up one of Ringo’s military science fiction books I found myself recognizing the characters and the conversations he wrote because that’s how we thought, talked and related back in ‘Division.’  As he developed his writing craft he expanded his vocabulary to speak the language of other services.  In this latest series, Black Tide Rising John channels his inner Marine…but more about that later.

Islands of Rage & HopeUnder A Graveyard Sky and it’s sequels To Sail a Darkling Sea and Islands of Rage and Hope (Strands of Sorrow is due out early next year) take place in an apocalyptic near future where a bioweapon has been released on the world.  This bioweapon was engineered not only to attack the U.S. but to do so in a way that plays on the terror that we’ve built into the zombie genre.  The zombies aren’t supernatural creatures or the returned dead… they’re victims of an artificially created pandemic designed to bring out the basest and most violent tendencies of the human race.  With the disease’s rapid spread throughout the world there’s no place safe even for those who are lucky enough to have received the morally questionable vaccine.

The story centers around the Smith family.  John, Stacey and their daughters Sophia and Faith are Australian born naturalized citizens and Preppers.  John was an Australian paratrooper who moved to the U.S. and became a history teacher.  Through a series of fortunate events the Smith family is able not just to become vaccinated with an experimental vaccine but also to escape to the only place that John thinks will be safe in this new world…the sea.

To Sail A Darkling SeaEventually the Smith clan comes to realize that they are the only hope for those trapped in compartments aboard the other boats and ships they encounter and begin conducting naval boarding and clearing operations to rescue the uninfected trapped behind bulkheads and secure the resources necessary to supply their ever growing flotilla of survivors.  Once they rescue a group of U.S. Marines the ship clearance ops gets even more interesting as a teenage girl must teach U.S. Marines the proper method of clearing a ship when the enemy’s only weapons are their hands and teeth.

The zombie virus phenomena is well thought out, well explained and well executed.  I didn’t find the characters in this series to be as interesting or relatable as I have come to expect from Ringo and the daughters youth  was very distracting to me (I’m not sending my teenage daughter on ship clearance ops) but the description of shipboard clearance operations was as fascinating as it was creepy.  I received some training years ago in building clearance operations and can only imagine how much more nerve racking it would be to clear compartments on ships and boats where there’s no light, no where for opponents to slip away (not that zombies try) and the use of my favorite clearance weapon, the grenade is as much of a danger to you as it is to your opponent.  I have renewed respect for Marines and Coasties!

“What happens in the compartment stays in the compartment.” My favorite line from the Black Tide Rising Series

Strands of SorrowThis is the thinking reader’s zombie series…if Robert A. Heinlein had written a zombie story, this would be it. and the first two books reminded me especially of a Heinlein tale because the same elements are there…a family forced into extraordinary circumstances, military discipline layered over family dynamics and the struggle for resources.

All in all this is a great read whether you’re a zombie genre fan or not…I can’t wait for the next installment to be published.

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