Ship of the Dead by John L. Campbell
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Father Xavier Church never wanted to be a leader. Nonetheless, he’s grown attached to his fellow survivors, and he won’t let anyone cause them harm—though he may be the one who inadvertently leads them to destruction.
Ex-con Bill Carnes may crave freedom, but he still prefers sticking with the group rather than fleeing to Mexico with his former cellmate TC. Maybe he’s changing. Or maybe the look in TC’s eyes is more dangerous than the undead.
EMT Rosa Escobedo gave up on hope after she watched the man she loved rise from the dead. But when a patient seems to start getting better, she can’t help but hope for a cure, even if it means risking her life.
As the numbers of the dead swell, the living are running out of safe havens—especially when the biggest threats lie within their own ranks.”
I’ve gotta hand it to Campbell–he certainly knows how to pack on the action sequences. That’s pretty much what this whole novel is, one big action sequence. And that’s not a complaint. Sometimes that’s the kind of book that you want to read, and if what you’re in the mood for is lots of running and shooting and chaos and screaming, this is the title for you.
In this book, the author goes for the other kind of danger we’ve come to expect from a wide-scale apocalyptic disaster: the danger posed by our fellow man. At least such people aren’t too common in this story. It’s kind of nice to see folks helping each other instead of taking advantage of those in greater trouble. But of course, in any situation like this, you get the bad apples, and those certainly crop up here. The main one is TC, escaped from prison during the initial outbreak and seeing the zombie uprising as his chance to do whatever he wants without the inconvenience of laws. Believe me, by the end of the book you’ll be hoping for his comeuppance to be slow and brutal.
There are also heroes populating this tale, people willing to sacrifice everything to ensure the safety of others. You’ll frequently read passages with characters throwing themselves in the path of danger, or willingly walking into peril so that others won’t have to. There are some scenes with a Russian pilot and a child that were actually very touching.
Along with that, though, is the caution that not every act of heroism produces the desired result. So be prepared for carnage. Lots and lots of carnage. It’s not limited to just the fighters–innocents are lost as well,
Lurking under all of this mayhem is something more sinister. Something is drawing the zombies towards San Francisco, something that is beyond any human control or ability to predict. This something will apparently arrive in the next book. I almost want to think that Campbell is overplaying things, because isn’t a zombie apocalypse enough? We’ll have to see if it works, and for that, we have to wait until January. I also hope to see something more about the origins of this Omega virus, if that’s what it turns out to be, because mentions of that were conspicuously absent in this book.
This is one of those novels that you could easily see making the transition to the big screen, because it’s so visual, and visceral. If you’re craving some explosive action, and some exploding zombie action, this is the book–and series–to pick up.