Monday, November 24, 2014

Ship Of The Dead - John L. Campbell

Ship Of The Dead
An Omega Days Novel
John L. Campbell
Note:  If you haven’t read the first novel in this series, OMEGA DAYS, this review contains many unavoidable spoilers.  And you’ve also missed a really great read, introducing the characters and situation.

This book picks up roughly a month after the events in the first book.  The zombies (or drifters, or skinnies) are still everywhere.  The few humans left alive and well are under constant threat of attack.  Now that the survivors have come together to form one large group, the first order of business seems to be finding a place that’s safe and defensible over the long term. 
Looking around the island of Alameda, there’s one obvious choice: the USS Nimitz, run aground not too far off shore.  The ship, although stationary, is still surrounded by water.  The zombies are not going to drown trying to get to the ship, but they’re not going to be able to climb up and over the superstructure to get into the ship.  The ship contains a good supply of food and medicine, and there will be plenty of space for everyone.  The huge downside: it’s currently still occupied by its crew.  Who are now all zombies.  The plan, such as it is, is to board the ship, split into hunting parties, and clear out the place. 
If you’ve read the previous book, you’re familiar with the majority of the characters.  Each one continues to be a well-drawn individual, with history and hopes and personal foibles.  There’s realism, in that everyone is at risk at every moment.  There’s no telling who will make it and who won’t.  I was surprised at how quickly I came to care about (or not) each character.  The addition of Navy reservist and EMT Rosa is inspired.  New readers follow her path through the outbreak and into the present.  As a reservist, she knows a bit about the ship, but not nearly enough to make things easy.
The story is almost nonstop action, mixed with some great character development and group dynamics.  The plan that seemed pretty straightforward on dry land largely falls to pieces once they’re on the ship.  The place is far larger – and far more populated – than they realized.  Even walking down a hallway, trying to clear the rooms on either side is an exercise in terror.  When one slip means death, there’s just no room for error.  The story continues in January, and I’m truly looking forward to it.  Just make sure to block out some time when you start these books; you won’t want to stop reading.

Rating: 9
October 2014
ISBN# 978-0-425-27264-0 (trade paperback)


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