cover image Ship of the Dead

Ship of the Dead

John L. Campbell. Berkley, $15 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-425-27264-0

Survivors fleeing the zombie infestation of Omega Days seek food, electricity, and safety on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in Campbell’s somber sequel. Medical student, Navy Reserve petty officer, and former stripper Rosa Escobedo joins heroic priest Xavier Church in leading the group. The reappearances of such depraved characters as ex-cons TC and Carney and sadistic former TV evangelist Peter Dunleavy illustrate the abyss of evil at work, even as universal destruction looms. Yet amid the challenges of wresting control of the ship from the dead, the survivors display inspiring self-sacrifice and dedication to group welfare. Dunleavy yields to his increasingly psychotic inclinations, while Carney draws strength from Church’s trusting nature. Campbell pits humane impulses against the dictates of leadership in a struggle between mercy and justice tempered by the threat of annihilation. If the playing-out of individual character themes and conflicts suggests conflicts of good and evil that are too clear-cut, the frequent and chilling zombie encounters highlight both Campbell’s competence in presenting horrific gore and his insistence that dedication to humanity is also the strongest definition of faith. (Oct.)