Book Review: Under a Graveyard Sky (Black Tide Rising #1) by John Ringo

Rating: 5 Stars

Published June 24th 2014 by Baen (first published August 15th 2013)            
Summary: A family of survivors who fight back against a zombie plague that has brought down civilization. Zombies are real. And we made them. Are you prepared for the zombie apocalypse? The Smith family is, with the help of a few Marines.

When an airborne “zombie” plague is released, bringing civilization to a grinding halt, the Smith family, Steven, Stacey, Sophia and Faith, take to the Atlantic to avoid the chaos. The plan is to find a safe haven from the anarchy of infected humanity. What they discover, instead, is a sea composed of the tears of survivors and a passion for bringing hope.

For it is up to the Smiths and a small band of Marines to somehow create the refuge that survivors seek in a world of darkness and terror. Now with every continent a holocaust and every ship an abattoir, life is lived beneath a graveyard sky.
(from Goodreads)


Review: Some people choose to read books because of the cover. I picked this one up because at first glance I thought she’s an elf on the cover (she’s not). I ended up buying it because the pages felt nice. Yup, that’s me. Bought a book because I liked the way the pages felt. …I am such a weird booknerd.

You know in Disney’s Aladdin when he’s trying to describe how amazing Jasmine Is? That’s me with this book.

Where do I even start? OK, so this is a zombie apocalypse novel. I am NOT a gore kinda gal, so I don’t partake in much zombie media, though I’m super intrigued by the concept. I love that the focus of this book is more on the science behind and progression of the “Pacific Flu” (as they call it) rather than being all horror/gore/gross-I-can’t-read-this. The science was believable (to my little unscientific brain, anyway) without being too confusing – I felt I could actually follow it and it made sense. (Maybe it’s totally bogus to someone who actually knows anything about epidemiology and microbiology and all that jazz, but it sounded good to me.) The book starts out with Steve Smith getting a text from his highly-placed security task force brother that there is an apocalyptic event happening. Steve is a total survivalist weirdo and his family has trained for this, which is lucky for humanity because without the Smith family there would likely be a lot less chance for mankind. I’m just sayin’. I also really enjoyed the socio-political aspect of this book. Who is in charge when all our previous structures have gone to pot (or “in the dunny,” as our Aussie-born friend Steve would say)? On whose authority? It’s interesting to see Steve figure out how to lead with his mix of expert and eventually referent power, and to watch the different types of leaders and types of power at play.

The characters in this book are amazing. The central focus is pretty much the Smith family, Steve and his wife Stacey and their two daughters, Sophie (15) and Faith (13). Sophie is the more science-minded daughter, and Faith is SUPER pumped at the prospect of kicking some zombie ass in the impending zombie apocalypse. Oh man, Faith. Here are some of the quotes about Faith:

“The United States started to go downhill when it changed from a round designed to kill the enemies of our glorious republic to one designed to piss them off,” Faith said, shooting a zombie five times, then walking up and shooting the still-thrashing infected in the head. “Seriously, just die, okay?”
“Seriously, it’s legal to marry at fourteen in Arkansas.”
“Fine,” Faith said, double tapping a zombie that had reared up out of the darkness. “If we clear Arkansas by the time I’m fourteen we’ll talk.”


Bradburn waved a finger at the periscope repeater.
“Remind me never to piss that young lady off.”
“Yes, sir.”


“She’s more worried about losing a sub than her own life,” Galloway said. “I am going to cover that girl in medals. So help me God.”

I was a little weirded out about all the talk about Sophie (15) and Faith (13) in a quasi-sexual light. Like, at one point Steve talks about trusting his daughters around all these grown-ass men. I know Faith is a total bad-ass, but she is 13! Ew. That being said, I can see why all these Marine bad-ass dudes are quasi in love with her – she is BAMF. I was going to post som
e of my favorite quotes here, but realized in short order than I was basically just typing out the whole book. So yes, just go read this. It was a little confusing at first with the shifting focus all over the place, but solidifies within a few chapters.

This is the first book in the Black Tide Rising series. There are a total of 4 books, all of which are published. I immediately went and bought the second book, To Sail a Darkling Sea, and I probably should have just caved and bought the rest of the series at the same time. If it were possible to rate a book more than 5 stars, this would get it.

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