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Under A Graveyard Sky (Black Tide Rising) Mass Market Paperback – 3 Jul 2014
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About the Author
John Ringo brings fighting to life. He is the creator of the Posleen Wars series, which has become a New York Times best-selling series with over one million copies in print. The series contains A Hymn Before Battle, Gust Front, When the Devil Dances, Hell's Faire and Eye of the Storm. In addition, Ringo has penned the Council War series: There Will be Dragons, Emerald Sea, Against the Tide, and East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Adding another dimension to his skills, Ringo created nationally best-selling techno-thriller novels about Mike Harmon (Ghost, Kildar, Choosers of the Slain, Unto the Breach, A Deeper Blue, and, with Ryan Sear, Tiger by the Tail). His techno-thriller The Last Centurion was also a national best seller. A more playful twist on the future is found in novels of the Looking-Glass series: Into the Looking Glass, Vorpal Blade, Manxome Foe and Claws That Catch, the last three in collaboration with Travis S. Taylor. His audience was further enhanced with four collaborations with fellow New York Times best-selling author David Weber: March Upcountry, March to the Sea, March to the Stars and We Few. There are an additional five collaborative spinoffs from the Posleen series: The Hero, written with Michael Z. Williamson, Watch on the Rhine, Yellow Eyes and The Tuloriad, all written with Tom Kratman, and the New York Times best seller Cally's War and its sequels Sister Time and Honor of the Clan, both with Julie Cochrane. In addition, Ringo's Princess of Wands and Queen of Wands broke new ground in contemporary fantasy adventure. A veteran of the 82nd Airborne, Ringo brings first-hand knowledge of military operations to his fiction.
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In general the book is enjoyable action fare, though the world-building and characters really don't hold up to scrutiny and the holes can become rather annoying if you stop to think about them. My advice is don't. It's a quick and entertaining easy reading without too much depth, don't expect more and you won't be disappointed.
The two areas that irritated me were the way in which everyone in this book is pretty much incompetent, except for the central family, and I mean truly, Darwin Award incompetents, and that goes for everyone in a position of authority.
But the most annoying single feature is the women. There are technically three in the central family, though the mother is practically invisible she gets so little page space. The daughters, are allegedly 13 and 15, which is the most annoying feature, because it's what breaks the story the worst.
We are expected to believe that a 13 year old girl is able to deal with killing 'zombies' (technically infected humans) with absolutely no problems, and less time spent dealing with her emotional response than combat veterans who are described as functional sociopaths. We are also expected to accept that she is the size and strength of an average adult male. She has the unarmed combat skills to act and react in close combat without hesitation and is an ace shot. Further she apparently has sufficient training to teach a US special forces soldier about clearing an enclosed area, in this case a ship. Combine this with the way she talks and reacts to other characters, and how much more mature her tactical and operational thinking, all at the age of 13. Her sister is somewhat more believable at 15, and far more cerebral in her persona, but it's still a bit of a stretch. It would be so easily fixed by not insisting on stating their unbelievable ages every few paragraphs, or actually using believable ones, so I'm not sure why Ringo is trying to sabotage his own story, unless there's some long range story arc that requires the girls to be this young to fit in later, but that seems like a really stupid thing to do.
After a few days reflection, I have edited my review to remove one star, because you need something beyond endless zombie bashing, and Ringo does not deliver. The world is not coherent and believable enough to actually care about, and the characters are either some degree of incompetent, or total heroes who can do no wrong. It's too 2 dimensional, and I won't be reading the next one.
The only distraction is that the style of writing is broken into very short bursts which while it keeps things moving is oddly unsatisfying at times. These 'clips' of a few lines even when they are obviously part of linked events broke up the flow for me on occasion.
There is also a lot of military and nautical jargon which while I am familiar with some of it, the references did at times puzzle me. Yes, it adds authenticity to a military-based family but I could have done with a list of acronyms to refer to.
On the whole though a good read.
Do the star "Hotties" have to be 13 and 15 though? 17 or 18 would have been more believable and remove the somewhat suspect nature of Mr RIngo's apparent interest in young women.
With solid lead charectors and emphatic storylines Ringo leads us into a world collapsing around our heads where being able switch mental gears, quickly, keeps you alive.
A serious entry in the zombie genre, with a realism that doesn't come along too often! Well worth the investment in time to get involved with the series
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