Zombie Book Review: Day by Day Armageddon: Shattered Hourglasson February 26, 2013 at 12:00 am
When I read the original Day by Day Armageddon, it was like something I’d seen before. In most zombie stories, you end up with a group of regular people with no particular skills trying to survive and usually failing. Instead, we get an incredibly capable man who was actually prepared for some sort of disaster. He’s a military officer and a firearms enthusiast. He acts decisively and is able to think both tactically and strategically about zombie survival. Furthermore, it’s told in journal format, so we get everything in his voice. It really added to the story because that capable, direct voice was incredibly believable for this particular character.
Speaking of voice, the writer, J.L. Bourne, is also a military officer, and likely a firearms enthusiast. There’s a reason the tone of the book sounds so realistic; this guy lives the life, and it comes through beautifully on the page.
Things got a little crazy in Day by day Armageddon, but it was fairly grounded considering the scope of the story. The sequel – Beyond Exile – turned things up quite a bit. Instead of regular people surviving on their own, we get top secret government conspiracies, huge battles, and a bit of spy stuff. Luckily, it still worked. I didn’t like it as much of the original, but it was still a fun read.
With the final chapter of the trilogy now out, we’re seeing some even more drastic changes. The most obvious is that the journal format has been completely abandoned. The reason for that is because the story is now split between a number of locations and a number of characters. Our protagonist, Kilroy (I have to say, it annoys me that we never get a real name for this guy), now takes a backseat for the majority of the action. Instead, we get two groups of special forces guys handling the majority of the action, as well as a few other stories interwoven into the narrative.
The scope of the plot of Shattered Hourglass is enormous. It takes place in several locations around the globe, with a number of major set piece action scenes. It’s exciting and breezy, and feels like a Tom Clancy-style military thriller set in the zombie apocalypse. That said, there are two big problems.
First, this tone is completely divorced from the tone of the rest of the trilogy. I expected a bit of that, given the perspective change, but it’s very jarring. I say that as someone who hasn’t read the first two books in the series in about two years. I think someone reading all three in a row would really be shaken by the drastic changes in the final volume.
The second issue is that there is way too much story to cover, and the whole thing seems very rushed. Interestingly, as the book progresses, the pacing gets faster and faster, and we get a lot less detail about what’s going on. The first couple of operations hit a good mix of fast paced action and detail, but by the time I got to the big climax, the whole thing is over before I can ever really get a sense of what’s going on. It completely disconnected me from the action. In fact, I actually went back and re-read the final chapter and the epilogue because I was sure that I had missed something.
Shattered Hourglass feels like three books trimmed down into one, relatively short novel. I hate to make assumptions, but it just seems like the writer was in a hurry to finish off his trilogy to move on to something else.
So is Day by Day Armageddon: Shattered Hourglass a bad book? Not really. It’s nice getting back into this world, and most of the action scenes are very well done. I struggled a bit with the perspective change and the tonal shift, but still enjoyed most of the book. However, putting our protagonist into the background and rushing through major events really bothered me.
This almost felt like a spin-off. It’s in the same universe, but the story is completely different.