I very much enjoyed the late Z.A. Recht’s Plague of the Dead, the first book of The Morningstar Strain saga. I loved it’s blending of contemporary zombie apocalypse tales and classic viral outbreak scares. The second book, Thunder and Ashes, contains those same attributes and takes it to another level. I dare to say that I enjoyed it even moreso than Plague of the Dead.
The story picks up where Plague leaves off. General Sherman and his motley group of soldiers and civilians are still making their way towards Omaha, but are not without their share of obstacles. They wind up at a town called Abraham which is the closest thing to an oasis the world has seen since the outbreak. The town, which makes every attempt to shut itself off from the outside world, continues to live as if the outbreak never happened.
On the other side, Mason and Dr. DeMilio are also still making their way towards Omaha. Still facing the threat of Sawyer on their tail, they meet up with another group of survivors. The group decides to work together to meet up with Sherman, though their pursuers don’t make the journey easy.
The obstacles both groups go through while making their way to the research facility are what made this book so enjoyable for me. The intense and well-thought out action sequences kept me turning the pages, but also the plot twists and predicaments faced by each of the characters had me sucked in.
Recht’s writing, especially with the tactical portions of the story, is descriptive to the point that I could envision each scenario with great detail. It’s clear he had some military background, as this is where his writing really excelled for me. In this book I still have my minor gripes about some of the dialog, which is not a negative in regards to the writing, but just more personal taste. Though during the end of the world I’m sure we’d let loose our fair share of f-bombs, I just tend to be put off when an adult character has the mouth and social etiquette of a middle schooler.
The writing world lost a great upcoming talent with Recht’s passing. His knack for action and ability to see through the eyes of multiple varieties of characters made these books so fun to read. Any lover of action and survival stories will enjoy these books, and I really can’t wait to see how Survivors, the last book in the series turns out when it is finally released.