Under a Graveyard Sky by John Ringo

Zombie apocalypse. Do I need to say more?

Book 1 in the Black Tide Rising Series

Under a Graveyard Sky is the first book in the 10 volume series called Black Tide Rising. I loved this book so much I will definitely be reading the next 9.

Published in 2013 and coming in at 367 pages, Under a Graveyard Sky is the start of an action/thriller/sci-fi series you don’t want to miss.

A killer virus has been intentionally spread across the world. It starts like the flu but then transforms into the zombie virus. Sick people are stripping naked and attacking anyone in sight. So… naked zombies.

The Smith family (Steve, Stacey, Sophia, and Faith) gets an early warning of the new zombie plague sweeping the nation. They execute their plan to bug out of New York City on a sailboat and head for the wide-open Atlantic. But before civilization crumbles, they have a chance to help on the land. Making vaccines, killing zombies, offering help wherever they can.

“From here on out, it was every man for himself.”

-John Ringo, Under a Graveyard Sky

Faith is 13 years old and soon becomes a zombie-killing machine. But it’s easier to kill the zombies than it is to deal with the survivors. She’s amazingly strong and witty. Sophia is a smart and careful 15-year-old. She’s confident and practical. The perfect team member for a zombie apocalypse. Steve and Stacey are the envy of couples everywhere. Stacey runs mechanics and engineering. Steve runs logistics and weapons. They are literally unstoppable when it comes to child-rearing or zombies.

Several other characters are featured including Uncle Tom (the business exec/”I know a guy” guy), Young (the police officer), Dr. Curry (mad scientist), and a litany of survivors that join the Smith family. The book rotates between several locations, following a roughly continuous timeline so we can see all characters in action. The Smith family is helpful and kind. In the middle of a zombie apocalypse that’s hard to find. It quickly becomes every man for himself, but their family bond makes them different.

The Smiths take to the sea for good and begin saving stranded survivors including Tina, a teenager that is the sole survivor on her vessel. In the months after the apocalypse started, they pick up an eclectic group of survivors from leisure vessels, large commercial ships, and military ships. It looks like they are going to have to create their own civilization at sea. That’s no small task, even if there weren’t man-eating zombies around. Or sharks. Or storms.

Adventure is something that happened to someone else, preferable a long way away and a long time ago.”

-John Ringo, Under a Graveyard Sky

The technical and scientific aspects are well-designed. Ringo knows about science, or at least he knows how to make made-up science sound real. The CDC, FBI, and other high powers have a plausible response to the new pandemic. It’s realistic in that the whole situation is tense and no one knows what to do. The reactions of your everyday New Yorker add a bit of dark humor to the scene: is that a zombie or just another drugged-up naked guy out for a run? Should I help that lady being chased by a bloody teenager or just keep walking to my corporate job?

Under a Graveyard Sky is action-packed between the zombie fights and tense dialogue. Ringo keeps things light enough with humor and likable characters. The best bonus feature: a playlist at the end featuring Led Zeppelin, Nightwish, and Breaking Benjamin. Check out a few of the songs to enhance your reading experience. I think this is a really special edition from John Ringo himself.

This book has some creepy aspects to it, so it’s not for the faint of heart. Perfect for a spooky Halloween read! I recommend Under a Graveyard Sky to lovers of sci-fi and action. If you liked the movies World War Z or I Am Legend, then this is the book for you.

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