Review of J.L. Bourne’s ‘Day by Day Armageddon Beyond Exile’
Day by Day Armageddon was one of the first books I read when I became interested in zombie literature, to go hand in hand with my fascination with zombie movies, almost exactly four years ago. As is the case with many people who enjoyed its personal approach to the apocalypse as told by an active officer in the military, I have waited all this time for the long hoped for sequel. Since J.L. Bourne is himself an active member of the military, my guess is that he was only able to write bits and pieces of this update of the saga between active tours of duty. While it may have been frustration for us fans of the first book to have waited this long, I have to say that the wait was well worth it.
An issue that some people had with the first book was perhaps the intentional diary approach to the book, with typos left in and even the text a bit rougher than you would get from a traditional novel. That is no longer an issue, as the format of this book is more traditional, with no errors in the text, intentional or not. I myself had no issues with that previously, but with it gone, it is one less point of criticism that someone may have with this type of storytelling. We once again get a diary of a military officer facing down the zombie apocalypse and this one picks up where the last journal ended, under ground, in the nuclear missile silo the author has dubbed Hotel 23, shortly after an attack by hostile survivors that failed to penetrate its defenses.
This is once again a personal journey of one man, with other people entering and exiting the story at different intervals. The characters in the first novel that are with the main character in Hotel 23 remain, but do not play a pivotal role here. The story has more dramatic swings to it than the previous tale, where it was mainly one man gathering who he could with him to find any place they could to survive. In this story, the military is reintroduced and play a huge role in the goings on of this tale. This allows the story to progress beyond what could have amounted to a group of people just trying to hide out underground for the duration of the apocalypse. Instead, the main character is required to make tough decisions and take on new responsibilities that will lead him away from H23 for the bulk of this tale and once again make this a intriguing saga of one man’s path, out in the open, during the zombie apocalypse.
My favorite character, and one which I am gathering much more will be revealed about in a future journal, is Saien, who our main character meets during his desperate travels and appears to be equally as capable (if not more so) than the main character at surviving in zed infested territory. His background is perhaps not completely shrouded in mystery, but it is clear there is more to the man than what the diary indicates. Suffice it to say, he is an interesting addition to the characters in the book, and the only one that shared a great deal of pages with the main character.
While there is a bit of romance afoot for our hero, it is certainly not a significant part of this journal. Personal interactions like that are kept to a minimum, with some character commentary that reveals bits and pieces, but the action is what the author targets, as is natural in a journal format such as this. While there is a great deal of military terminology, the author goes to significant lengths to make the layman, like me, feel comfortable with the equipment and hardware being used in the story. This is not a story about an every day guy beating the odds and surviving, but about someone who has gone through survival training, has a great familiarity with weaponry, hand to hand combat, and battle tactics most of us are not privy to, which makes this book fairly unique among most zombie stories written.
I personally enjoyed the gritty, personal perspective that this book and the previous novel have. A journal format does have its weaknesses: minimal dialogue, limited perspective, and by necessity, we know that the person who is penning the journal is okay because they continue to write about their exploits day after day. But done well, it is a compelling format, and it is hard to say that anyone out there does it any better than J.L. Bourne.
Day By Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile can be found on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/143917752X/ref=cm_cr_thx_view