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Customer Review

360 of 407 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best zombie novels ever written (no hype!), May 5, 2006
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This review is from: Day by Day Armageddon (Paperback)
Let me get this off my chest: I'm a zombie "purist." I'd been looking for a good zombie novel that stayed faithful to George A. Romero's Dead Trilogy (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead) for decades and decided they probably didn't exist (outside of the novelizations of NotLD and DotD).

I prefer the zombies I grew up with: slow, shambling and not too smart. No matter how entertaining or well-written, I don't really want anything that differs too much from the traditional "rules" laid down by Romero in NotLD. A few fun little twists are okay, but when you start radically changing the zombies just to be different or "extreme," you change the entire nature of the threat and start messing with your reader's expectations... Chances are they bought the book because they are a zombie movie fan and they expect your novel to play by the rules; if not by the "classic" Romero rules, then by the "new" rules set forth in 28 Days Later or the Dawn of the Dead remake.

Just when I'd given up hope of ever finding such a novel, I stumbled across Day By Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne. Finally, an author who delivered just plain old-fashioned Romero zombies! I will note that there are some fast zombies later in the book but these are well-explained and used sparingly. Far from being distracting, these fast zombies actually add to the horror. Kudos to the author for satisfying fans of both fast and traditional zombies--not an easy thing to do!

The story, told in first person journal format, kicks off with the narrator (an unnamed U.S. Naval officer) making a New Year's resolution to keep a journal. As the days progress, he comments on his life and various problems he's noticing in the news, particularly about a mysterious disease outbreak in China...

Naturally, the "disease" is the zombie virus, and it quickly spreads around the globe, cutting him off from the outside world. The hero is torn between joining his fellow officers on-base or remaining barricaded in his home, but opts for the latter. In the time he has left before everything breaks down, he improves his home's defenses (adding broken glass to the top of his walls, buying more ammo for his gun collection, adding do-it-yourself bars to his ground floor windows, etc.).

He is determined to "wait out" the plague, but the government fails to contain the epidemic, retreating to hidden bunkers, and leaving the panic-stricken civilian population to fend for themselves. The narrator teams up with his only surviving neighbor, an engineer named John and his dog, who is good at alerting them to the presence of zombies (a little too good, as they have to keep her quiet most of the time to prevent her barking from alerting the undead to their presence).

The growing number of zombies outside forces them to decide to get out of the small Texas town (near Austin) where they were holed up. Along the way, they encounter some other survivors, rampaging paramilitary, hordes of undead, and a variety of other realistic hazards that one would expect to find in a post-apocalyptic world.

One of the key features that makes Day By Day Armageddon so interesting as a tale of post-apocalyptic/zombie survival horror is the narrator's unique perspective as a U.S. Naval Officer (the author is also one, currently serving in Iraq). There is a fair amount of military slang and abbreviations that take a little getting used to, but they add flavor to the book. The attention to detail, from the careful descriptions of weapons to the realistic way that surviving the crisis is presented, makes this book stand out from other zombie novels, which tend to gloss over or ignore such things.

Initially, I was a little leery of purchasing this book I'd never heard of, despite all the glowing reviews here (only one negative out of over 45!), so I checked out the author's website and found he had the first 78 pages online to read FREE. I promptly did so and loved it. There were no more reservations; I had to order this book!

I got it in the mail today; it's a quick, exciting read. I finished it in about three hours (starting at page 78--where the free online sample ended--probably shaved an hour or two off, but I'm a fast reader). I thought the book was fantastic, easily one of the best pieces of zombie fiction ever produced and I eagerly await the sequel as well as the promised novel, Dead Land, set in the same universe as Day by Day Armageddon.

My one gripe about the story is I would have liked to see a bit more depth to round out the supporting cast, but I suppose that can't be helped considering the first person journal format it is written in.

There is an exciting cliffhanger ending. I should warn you... there is no resolution! It only bothers me in that we have no idea when we will see a Part 2. It would have been better, from a marketing standpoint, to capitalize on the success of Part 1 by having Part 2 ready to go within a year at most of this book's release so you could strike while the iron was hot, rather than waiting years...

The number of typos increased a bit more than I would have liked from about page 120 on, particularly chronically misusing "site" for "sight" and "wondered" instead of "wandered". It seemed like there was either a misused word or a punctuation error every few pages (but still not as bad as a lot of other self-published works). I'm not sure if these were prevalent prior to page 78, as I had already read the online version and skipped them in the hardcopy, but I don't recall there being very many. There certainly didn't seem to be too many between pages 78-120 (approximate page spread). These typos are a little more forgivable given that this is supposed to be a journal written on the run by a lone survivor.

Besides the very poor cover illustration, there are a few images included in the book. I could not fully utilize the map of "Known Nuclear Zones" or "Hotel 23" (the military base they flee to) because the maps were so small and pixellated. The scattered few photos were cheesy and distracting, and the photoshop filter used to "enhance" some of them didn't help.

Despite these minor issues, I highly recommend this book to all zombie and horror fans. What you are ultimately buying the book for is the story and the author delivers that in spades!!!
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Showing 1-10 of 28 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 21, 2007 9:54:58 PM PST
good review baron, but don't miss out on brian keene's "the rising", and "city of the dead". two excellent zombie novels.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 2, 2007 4:13:55 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 21, 2007 3:01:50 PM PDT
Thanks! I think we're going to have to agree to disagree. I read Keene's zombie books back to back and did not like them because the origin of the zombies was too sci-fi/Call of Cthulhu, the zombies were not real zombies but demon-possessed corpses that all talked like Freddy Krueger, and the main character had the personality of a doorknob. And zombie squirrels? Come on, that's not scary, that's stupid. I thought Keene's books were creatively bankrupt hackjobs, third-rate rip-offs of Stephen King's The Stand. I prefer Romero-style zombies. By changing the nature of the zombie threat so much, they lose something. Even fast zombies are still unintelligent, but when you make the zombies smart, too, they're not really zombies anymore...

Posted on Oct 31, 2007 2:21:07 PM PDT
sindonor1 says:
Okay, I had to stop reading your review because it was full of SPOILERS!!!!!! Seriously, you gotta learn how to write a review without explaining the entire story to us. OR, state you are going to use SPOILERS in your review.

Anyways, based on 1/2 of your review, I'll prolly pick up this book.

Posted on Jan 2, 2008 10:29:24 AM PST
cen says:
Yeah, SinDonor and I agree: AVOID SPOILERS. I am glad you enjoyed the book, and will probably buy it off of your recommendation, since we have very similar Zombie taste. I also appreciate the warnings about the typos (*sigh*), and thank you for pointing out the 78 pages available - may help tide me over till I get the book.

I only simmed the review, because I am always cautious about spoilers, and as soon as I caught the part about fast zombies, I had to stop reading. Even that tiny detail is enough of a spoiler to make me quickly scroll away. Most people probably don't mind too much, but I am a zombie purist AND a spoiler purist! I like to go in a total virgin reader, other than "is it good?".

Still though, good info in the review. And it was helpful.

Posted on Feb 13, 2008 2:12:07 AM PST
M. Azar says:
"the zombies were not real zombies"

Take a moment to read that. Now let it sink in...

Posted on Apr 2, 2008 12:15:54 AM PDT
T-Rexx says:
Same comments as SinDonnor. You obviously loved this book, but you gave out way too much information about the plot. I read the three first paragraphs before jumping to your conclusion in order not to spoil my discovery of the book. But I have also decided to buy it!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2008 6:53:11 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 17, 2008 6:56:25 PM PDT
to: John J. Avery
it seems that you didn' read the review, "the rising" goes agaist the rules and is a silly book, no horror just a stupid book.

of all the Z books i've read so far Day by Day is still the best and The Rising is still the worst

Posted on Jul 20, 2008 12:48:24 PM PDT
Good review, but too many spoilers. You should put up a warning

Posted on Jul 21, 2008 8:46:24 AM PDT
The best Zombie book I ever read was "World War Z" by Max Brooks. Dude you have got to read that book

Posted on Jul 28, 2009 6:13:53 AM PDT
First you made me want to read the book. Then you made me realize I don't need to: you already told me everything that happens. It's supposed to be a review, not a rehash. In the future, try to stick with likes and dislikes. It's obvious you liked the book, but you got a little carried away with the plot summary.
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