Shattered Hourglass is the third in the Day by Day Armageddon series. Zombie novels are very much a niche genre, with carefully prescribed rules. The first novel in this series worked within these conventions, but took a fresh approach. Written in diary format from the perspective of a military man surviving the outbreak one day at a time, it had an immediacy and freshness that captured the horror of the situation. In the sequel the focus broadens, and we are given more information about the unfolding apocalypse. Shattered Hourglass takes the threads of the story from the end of the previous novel and throws them to the wind. The tight focus is lost with multiple storylines, but no central character to follow. Some diary entries are retained, but these are interspersed with traditional narratives.

Granted, the author could not just keep giving us yet another day of zombie apocalypse, so it was inevitable the focus would broaden to look at, for example, the source of the infection, how the military responds, etc. But the tight focus of the first novel is now expanded with any kind of control. Essentially the novel consists of long periods of travel without zombie encounters to provide any threat or interest, interspersed with people running around shooting zombies in the head, with occasional zombie brain smashing using alternative implements for variety. Innovative ways of killing zombies such as luring them into the Panama Canal are flirted with but then spurned for more shooting and slashing. The central, originally anaonymous, character, gets lost in the crowds, and we stop idnetifying with him or caring about him.
So far this is just a descent to the ordinary, but then things get worse. First, the author’s right wing, pro-gun views intrude into the text. Normally I am reluctant to accept the “Character A thinks X, therefore Author A thinks X” argument without further evidence, but here the references are sufficiently heavy handed and inappropriate as to suggest the author is using the zombie apocalypse as an excuse to promote his own views. I have to say the argument that gun control, as well as leaving the good citizens of pro-gun control states exposed to gun-toting lunatics (rather than spawning them) would leave them equally exposed to flesh eating zombies is one of the more innovative and plainly laughable arguments I have come across in a long time.
This book was originally due to be published earlier this year, and the final publication date – 26th December – is just weird. The published version has a large number of traces of being hurriedly finished. The author runs multiple plot lines – far too many to manage effectively – but the spinning plates come crashing down in a badly mis-managed finale. Plot lines are shut down suddenly with little or no explanation, or in the case of the Hotel 23 outpost not at all. The aircraft carrier is overtaken by zombies without any coherent rationalisation beyond a hint that it has something to do with the children on the carrier exploring (great security there), but all is OK because they manage to crash into an island secured by a previously unmentioned citizen militia. The main plot line is concluded in even more of a hurry, with the deployment of a concrete spraying weapon that would not be out of place in Scooby Doo.
A huge disappointment. There is plenty of scope here for further sequels, but whether this author has the commitment or interest to deliver has got to be in doubt.
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