cover image Under a Graveyard Sky

Under a Graveyard Sky

John Ringo. Baen, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4516-3919-3

Ringo combines humor and horror in this strong series debut, the thinking reader’s zombie novel. When an ecoterrorist attack instigates a worldwide epidemic of naked zombies, laid-back Australian expat Steven Smith leads his family to sea as New York is overrun. Steven’s determination to rescue survivors and defeat the triumphant zombies provides incentive to enlist support from humanity’s tattered remnants, a cause that carries its own risks. Australian references and high-spirited family banter (“We are not going to a concert at night in a park in zombie infested New York! And that’s final!”) enliven the well-worn catastrophic scenario. Ringo fleshes out his theme with convincing details of the devastating virus and attempts to develop a vaccine. The zombie-fighting zeal of Steven’s younger daughter, 13-year-old Faith, provides an overwrought comic-book atmosphere, but the action never falters. Like Odysseus, the wily, resourceful Steven combines valor and prudence. Ringo’s offbeat but vivid cast of characters will attract readers who enjoy a chuckle as civilization collapses. Although the comic effect is too pronounced to facilitate a suspension of disbelief, the proceedings become oddly plausible. (Sept.)