The end begins with a viral outbreak unlike anything mankind has ever encountered before. The infected are subject to delirium, fever, a dramatic increase in violent behavior, and a one-hundred percent mortality rate. Death. But it doesn't end there. The victims return from death to walk the earth. When a massive military operation fails to contain the plague of the living dead it escalates into a global pandemic. In one fell swoop, the necessities of life become much more basic. Gone are petty everyday concerns. Gone are the amenities of civilized life. Yet a single law of nature remains: Live, or die. Kill, or be killed. On one side of the world, a battle-hardened General surveys the remnants of his command: a young medic, a veteran photographer, a brash Private, and dozens of refugees, all are his responsibility-all thousands of miles from home. Back in the United States, an Army Colonel discovers the darker side of Morningstar virus and begins to collaborate with a well-known journalist to leak the information to the public... The Morningstar Saga has begun.
This is without doubt one of the top five zombie books that I've ever read. This series along with Glynn James and Michael Stephen Fuchs 'Arisen' series are probably the best zombie series ever. I did not want to put this book down and I read it in one day. Yes it was that good! Who needs to eat or have toilet functions when there are deadly zombies to enjoy...
Anna, a Lt Col. has been studying the Morningstar Strain in animals and is concerned about how deadly an outbreak would be, warning General Sherman of the consequences. It is Sherman's troops who have to make a stand at the Suez Canal when the African outbreak gets out of control and Anna and the General are aware that victims are becoming zombies. The outbreak is now a plague and African quarantine fails, putting the world at threat.
The story follows key groups. First we have General Sherman's group featuring the soldiers under his command and rescued aid workers and civilians who fled with them as the quarantine failed. My favourites apart from the General in this group were Mbutu, the air traffic control guy who witnessed the first attacks at his airport and Denton the photo journalist attached to the soldiers. I liked the different characters of the soldiers that we follow here and you do care what happens to everyone. We also follow Anna who gives the story of the outbreak to a journalist to leak, putting both Anna and Julie in danger as certain government officials are determined to shut them down, led by the psychopath that is Sawyer.
The action is non stop which I love in zombie books! The airport outbreak where we meet survivor Mbutu is where the infection begins, which leads to a 'dead' man from here attacking the coroner and infecting others. The action moves to the troops at Suez trying to blow bridges and block all routes from Africa as a mass of zombies come towards them. The military don't factor in the arrival of a ship full of the infected to give them a war on two fronts. The battle of Suez was tense and exciting, with death and disaster in abundance. The survivors flee north to Sharm el Sheikh, with attacks by the dead as they pass through towns, to seek the safety of their ship. But that becomes a death trap when people hide evidence of bites and an outbreak starts on board. It really is non stop zombie action in this book, with the story being carried along by well developed and interesting characters.
When the people on the ship split into two groups, the journey gets even more dangerous for Sherman's group. They need supplies and spot a small town that looks deserted and you just KNOW that going in there is going to be a very bad idea. Can they find supplies? Are there survivors here? Where are the zombies? This was the very best part of the book for me. The tension levels built so high that I was a nervous wreck just reading it! I felt as if I was in that town with them, my heart in my mouth with every step, and here we break off into different groups amongst our survivors as they get into different types of trouble. Worrying about favourite characters who are missing or in trouble made this a nerve shredding read.
Anna has her own mission-evade the psycho agents trying to capture and kill her, and find her way with her companions to a lab where she can continue to work on a vaccine or cure. She contacts Sherman about the plan and he decides that this is their best chance and decides he is going AWOL to join her along with anyone who wants to leave the ship. The only problem is, those who choose to follow him are going to face a journey across American soil where the undead are now rampaging, along with human criminals and bandits. The story switches between the two main plots which keeps the action fast paced and there is never a dull moment.
I also enjoyed the fact that the author had two different types of zombies-shamblers and sprinters. The sprinters are physically intact and can move at high speed, hence the name, and are deadly monsters trying to kill you. When you shoot these guys, they die and reanimate as shamblers, who look and act like your traditional zombies. Shoot them again and they remain dead. So if you take down a group of sprinters, you have a certain period of time before they reanimate so you better remember to kill them again! This was good, and it led to some very exciting scenes when characters seem to forget these safety rules!
The author did a great job with the action scenes. There was excitement, gore and he had a great way of continually ramping up the tension to unbearable levels. I loved the characters, I loved the zombies, I loved the way he told the story. I searched a long time for a copy of this book years back when it was so hard to get, and it was worth the wait and all the money I had to pay to get it. As soon as I finished I was grabbing the second book to see what happened to everyone.
I recommend this book to those who love fast paced zombie books!