Book Review: Day by Day Armageddon
Where Kim Paffenroth’s recent release Dying to Live was to be considered the philosopher’s guide to existence after a zombie invasion, J. L. Bourne’s novel Day by Day Armageddon is everyday man’s field guide to survival. With the gritty, no-nonsense voice of a young Naval officer, Bourne details the evolution of an outbreak of a virus that spreads rapidly from China to America, turning everyone in its path into hordes of mindless, hungry undead. Trapped in his home in San Antonio, Texas the man begins keeping a daily diary of his experiences, detailing in dreary, realistic terms the progression of the downfall of the United States. After making allies with another survivor a few houses away, an engineer by the name of John, they flee the city only hours before the U.S. government is to drop nuclear warheads on all major national cities, including San Antonio. Day after day, with his sanity wearing thin and rations running low, the men continue what seems to be a hopeless struggle for survival in a world overrun with flesh-eating zombies.
I was slightly skeptical when I first received my copy of Day by Day Armageddon in the mail from Permuted Press as I have never truly enjoyed reading books written in a “journal” format. Something about the “day one…this happens…day two…that happens” style usually makes me want to pull my hair out after a few pages. It did take a bit for me to sink my teeth into due to my initial reaction, but after a chapter or two I found myself completely drawn in and addicted to the quickly developing plot. Bourne’s extremely rational, realistic portrayal of a member of the military in a time of complete disaster, where the rules and regulations that had once been the driving force of his existence are now thrown to the wayside in a state of mass panic, is a gruesome reminder of just how close we are as a society, at any given moment, to complete anarchy. In the blink of an eye civilization as we know it could very well come to a complete standstill and then the question would be: How would we as individuals deal in a time of such crisis, when everything we had been raised to believe we could count on vanishes? Knowing that Bourne himself is in fact a full-time active duty naval officer and a self-proclaimed survivalist only adds to the reality of the book and makes me think that perhaps I should have it around just incase of an emergency.
Not that I fear zombies are going to take over the planet at any point in time, but with the current government trigger-happy administration, you just never know what might go down tomorrow. Perhaps it is the fact that Day by Day Armageddon takes place in Texas (and at one point my own city of Austin is nuked as part of the government’s extermination plan), but it really made me begin to think about what this state has to offer and where I would go in a time of national crisis. I’ve never been a hard-core survivalist. I don’t have a supply of canned food, batteries and water on hand at all times and, I’m afraid to say, that I’m usually the last one to the grocery store when bad weather hits and have to make due with whatever disgusting discount remainders are left on the shelf. I have known quite a few intense survival strategists, though, and they would probably beat me upside the head with this book while proclaiming the justification for their end-of-the-world mentality. Still, I don’t see myself building a safe room anytime soon, though. I think I’ll just keep the book on hand instead.
Day by Day Armageddon originally began in 2004 as and online writing experiment and eventually evolved into the full-length novel it is today (http://www.tacticalunderground.us/). Permuted Press has decidedly chosen to print the journal exactly as it appeared online, misspellings and all. While, I understand the concept behind this approach, the attempt to maintain the authenticity of an actual person’s journal writing, the typos still make me a bit anxious. They are not excessive, but still noticeable to the scrutinizing editor in me. I’m still undecided on whether or not I agree with Permuted’s decision to stick with the unedited manuscript, but in the greater scheme of things, I suppose it is a minor detail. The roughness to the script does lend another aspect of gritty reality to the piece and lends well to its “underground” appeal in the realm of zombie literature.
Typos aside, if you are a tried and true fan of zombies then Day by Day Armageddon is definitely one novel you should check out. It is a unique anthropological and psychological study on the individual’s ability to adapt, a skill we are all probably a little rusty at in this day and age. Pick up a copy and ferret it away in your safe room, you know, “just in case”…
J.L. Bourne’s Zombie Survival Website: