Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne

An American man trying to survive a zombie crisis writes a daily journal chronicling his challenges and moods.

An American military pilot is aware of rumors and speculation regarding a strange disease.  He takes steps to be prepared for a pandemic, and is well positioned to survive the zombie apocalypse.  This book tells the story of his preparation for and adventures during the beginning of a zombie plague. 

There are minor spoilers in this review.  My suggestion is to read the spoilers, then go read World War Z instead of this book.

It took me a few tries to get through this book.  It starts off slowly with the narrator returning from a vacation and hearing rumors regarding a strange disease.  He begins to fortify his house and stockpile emergency supplies.  The beginning of the book goes on and on before the crisis really sets in, making it somewhat less than thrilling at first.

It gets more interesting when the narrator and his neighbor have to escape from the city by plane and move around from site to site, meeting fellow survivors.  Even in the most exciting parts of the book though, I felt like I'd seen it all before.  Maybe I am getting tired of the zombie genre, because new things don't really get done in it.  It's all just running, panicking, hiding, scavenging...  no innovation here.

I'm not sure how well the diary style of book lends itself to a zombie apocalypse.  It isn't very noticeable, which makes it somewhat unconvincing as far as diary entries go.  The way it's written is like a normal story, not like diary entries generally.  And the image of this big army guy sitting down at the end of his zombie-killing day and writing Dear Diary is a little silly to me.  It just didn't work.  People don't write in diaries the same way novels are written, and Day by Day Armageddon was trying to do both.

My huge issue in this book that sort of caught me by surprise was its blatant sexism.  At first the story is just about the narrator and his very capable male neighbor, but when they meet more survivors some are women.  I understand that men are generally bigger and stronger than women, and the narrator had extensive military training, but the incompetence and frailty of the women they met was just assumed and taken for granted and was incredibly irritating to me.  The men scavenged and protected the women, who did almost nothing other than first aid and cooking.  While none of the survivors other than the neighbor knew how to use guns at first, the man was described as taking to it instantly and was immediately brought on raids while the women reluctantly shot guns only in a crisis situation and were not expected to do anything otherwise.  It's hard to explain the sexism in this book because it wasn't something that was stated, it was just this underlying assumption about the role of women and the duty of men to protect them.

A much smaller complaint I had was the ending.  There was a major crisis, but after that it just ended with no real conclusion.  Evidently the book has a sequel coming out (which I will NOT be reading) but even so the ending was abrupt.  That seems to be a thing I've been seeing a lot of lately.  I don't think it's necessary that authors tie up every single loose end, but a conclusion at all is important.

I didn't hate this book, it was fairly engaging and entertaining mostly.  It just didn't add anything, I felt like I'd seen or read it all before.  And the sexism made me rage.  I would recommend you skip this book and read World War Z or even The Reapers are the Angels instead.

2/5 stars

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