Title: Day by Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile
Author: J. L. Bourne
Publisher: Pocket Books, a Simon and Schuster imprint
Format: Trade Paperback, 288 pages
From the publisher's website:
Armies of undead have risen up across the U.S. and around the globe;there is no safe haven from the diseased corpses hungering for human flesh. But in the heat of a Texas wasteland, a small band of survivors attempt to counter the millions closing in around them.
Day by day, the handwritten journal entries of one man caught in a worldwide cataclysm capture the desperation—and the will to survive—as he joins forces with a handful of refugees to battle soulless enemies both human and inhuman from inside an abandoned strategic missile facility.
But in the world of the undead, is mere survival enough?
My Take: This book is the second in a series; the first was Day by Day Armageddon. There are various references to incidents that must have happened in the first book; however, it does well as a stand-alone book.
Because I didn't read the first book, I am providing background mainly from the author's forenote and clues picked up in THIS book.
A military officer makes a New Year's resolution to start keeping a journal. In this journal, he chronicles events that lead up to a worldwide cataclysm and his taking leave of his military post as likely the sole survivor. He and a friend named John escape San Antonio right before a government-sanctioned nuclear blast.
I think that the episode that caused things to quickly go to h-e-double toothpicks in a hand basket was that some sort of virus or contaminant escaped and spread worldwide. This caused people who died to actually become undead quickly after their initial death. Of course, as zombies, the best-tasting stuff is live human flesh, so as they attacked and killed the living, who then re-animated after death, the numbers of undead increased exponentially, Even getting scratched by one of these creatures would cause the person attacked to "turn" while they were sleeping. The only way to kill them for good is to shoot them directly in the brain.
As our military man and his friend John holed up in an abandoned nuclear facility that they nicknamed "Hotel 23", they eventually acquired more survivors at great risks to themselves. Hotel 23 is attacked by a renegade group of survivors, all who ended up dead.
This book starts right after that point, when those who were killed in the attack join the ranks of the undead, who cannot get through the gate of Hotel 23, but know that there are living people inside, so they mindlessly keep trying to get through to "fresh meat".
I don't like spoilers, so I will necessarily have to leave out many of the nitty-gritty details of how certain things happened, but hopefully, can give you a good gist of how well the book reads.
I really like the journal format. The narrator is pretty practical and straightforward, and as you read, you feel as though you are standing beside him as these things happen. It LOOKS like a scary book, but as a true horror fan, I found it not so much "scary", as thinking, "Oh, my gosh, it must be horrible to have to live like that".
Satellites are slowly dropping out, so there is no longer GPS. Radio and television stations have long since stopped transmitting. Any major and even minor population areas are overrun by the undead, who don't stop coming after you once they see or hear you until they've either got you in their grip or you get in a good head shot. No more walking down to the corner store!
In reality, our narrator is considered AWOL, as he left his post against military orders, but if he had stayed, he would likely be one of the undead. Many people have shot themselves in the head to avoid finding themselves in that position. Highways are blocked by pileups; there is no electricity, and anyone who was alive when the cities got nuked in an effort to stop the undead from populating ... well, you can guess what happened to them.
Our narrator starts by helping two additional survivors make it back to Hotel 23. He and a crew of survivors then find that there are military personnel on some sort of reconnaissance mission who are stranded and need to be rescued. They help them escape and bring them back to Hotel 23. The Hotel 23 occupants put blindfolds on them so that they can't report the location to their superiors, then when they are ready to return to their outpost, blindfold them and drive them out and away.
The military men find their way back, and our narrator is once again an officer in charge of troops. Orders come from who knows where, and Hotel 23 now has more survivors, including military, than there are water and other supplies for. This means more forays out to restock, and more danger.
I think this is where I really can't say very much more, because it would be giving away a lot. You can feel the desperation in getting by day-to-day, living on military rations, and even unable to drive a car somewhere because if you run out of gas or need to stop, you'll quickly be surrounded and overcome.
There's lots of action and quite a few surprises along the way (not necessarily GOOD surprises, mind you!) and the book is a quick, interesting, at times hard-hitting, read. I liked it - it's a "guy" book, but I still liked it. I think I ran through it in my spare time in two days. I would mark it as worth a read.
My biggest suggestion, however, would be to read the first book, because, again, you're sort of guessing about what actually happened to lead to the present-day conditions in THIS book. I think that is likely why I couldn't give it a straight 4.
Book Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Disclosure: I received a copy of this title from the publisher to objectively review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions expressed in this review are mine alone.