Posted on July 22, 2010 by Eric Pollarine
Available at Amazon.com
It’s come to my own personal attention that there are no longer any things in this world that excite me. It’s not that I am some dispassionate postmodern intellectual existential snob, OK-maybe I am, but it’s not as if my world view doesn’t allow for some joy. And when I got the email from Jacob over at Permuted Press, regarding an opportunity to review “Day by Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile” from Zombie fiction legend, JL Bourne, I danced the dance of a thousand joys; which if you don’t know what that is –well, imagine a fully grown man running around flapping his arms like a 12 year old girl who just got to meet “Edward” from the “Twilight” saga.
Yeah- I will hang my head in shame as I write this. But my joy is still there, you can’t take that away from me.
So when I opened up the package in anticipation and a little dread-as the original “Day by Day Armageddon” is hands down, and I mean HANDS DOWN as in no debating ,one of the best works in the new Zombie fiction revival/renaissance- after finishing it in under a day, I can say that this sequel does not disappoint.
I will address the only two cons that I could find with this novel here at the beginning, so I can start slathering on the praise. First and foremost, the novel is written in the telltale journal/diary style which made the first book such a stand out affair, which if it has been a few years since you read the first book, “Beyond Exile” will leave you catching back up to the style. The good news is that it only takes about a chapter or so to get back up to speed on the style. Now for those of you that have recently picked up Bourne’s first novel, or are new to the genre- this won’t be a problem, but for those of us that have read Keene and Paffenroth, or the many others that are pure literary forces in the subgenre, the diary/journal style takes a chapter or two to get back into it. The second and last criticism that I can see is actually not really a criticism but more of a fanboy complaint; it’s too short. But not in a way that leaves you hanging feeling that you bought a half finished book, far from it-you just want more when the story ends. Alright, it’s only one minor criticism.
Now the good, and there is so much of it I will not be able to get to it all here on Flames.
“Beyond Exile” takes place immediately after the events of the first “Day by Day,” (so if you’re not all that familiar with the story line then go get both books and read them back to back and then this review will make more sense) where we see the assembled survivors of Hotel 23, after taking a beating from a group of post apocalyptic raiders and zombie hordes, regrouping and faced with the realities of the new found truth, that they may be the only ones left in the world.
As the story progresses along we see our AWOL USAF Officer, and his rag tag band of survivors grow into a highly affective and lethal unit, not to mention the fact that through a chance run in with a small group of stranded Marines, the narrator goes from being on the run to being in command. Even more intrigue is heaped upon the reader when things at Hotel 23 start to get spooky, complete with unmanned drones, high tech weapons systems, a coast guard cutter, an unidentified sniper, and people who eat zombies. Yes people who eat the zombies.
Now I am not going to spoil the actual novel for you, as I if you are reading this then you are most likely a fan of the genre, and I wouldn’t do that to a fellow fan, but I am going to say that Mr. Bourne’s style has greatly improved, his sense of voice in the narrative is much more distinct, and the action is all there as well. He has reached a place in his writing that serves up equal parts introspection, rugged individualism and horror. Bourne has a huge advantage over many in the field as he is an active duty Officer himself in the Military and so it lends a sense of factual authority to the descriptions of battle, mindset, and equipment, but the plus side is that he does all of this without making you feel like an outsider.
In short, you can see why he has become such a power house in the genre. The Zombies are traditional-though they do get a small upgrade in this novel but fear not flesh eating purists, the evolutionary jump is a logical next step for the monsters which inhabit Bourne’s apocalypse. They can not talk, they can’t play a game of chess or move with superhuman speed, and they certainly don’t fall in love with a human-but they do get a little faster and a little smarter.
Look, what I am trying to say is that all in all, Day by Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile shows you exactly why Bourne is one of the reigning literary kings of living dead, if you’ve read the first book, then you already know this. If you decide to read this book out of it’s respective place in the (so I hope) series, then you’ll come to love the piece of work for exactly what it is-a sequel that stands alone and even outdoes the original-a Zombie book of exceptional quality, affordable price and fantastic action.
Review by Eric Pollarine