Review: Crossbones by John L. Campbell

CrossbonesThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“Leading the U.S.S. Nimitz survivors has forced Father Xavier Church to make some hard decisions, but he’s protected his flock. Only, his fortress is about to fall, and, this time, he might not be able to save them all…

Most people lost everyone they loved to the walking dead, but Evan Tucker didn’t have anything to lose. The folks on the Nimitz are the closest family he’s ever had. He’ll fight to his last breath to make sure nothing comes between them—no matter whether its the undead or the living…

Coast Guard captain Elizabeth Kidd has always been a consummate professional, the opposite of her cruel pirate ancestor of the same name. But the Omega Virus didn’t just change people into zombies; for some, the change was more subtle, and much more nefarious…

As the safe-haven of the Nimitz is besieged by vicious marauders and terrifying Hobgoblins, they come up against the most deadly obstacle they’ve faced yet, one they have no chance of defeating—the cruel whims of nature itself…”

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed most about this series is the action.  It’s like the prose version of a summer Hollywood blockbuster.  It doesn’t challenge your thinking and it doesn’t try to convey any deep messages.  It’s just a fun read with lots of shambling undead and explosions galore.  However, after reading this book, I’m finding that the author does have the capacity to shove too much action into his stories.

Taken individually, each of the storylines has a lot to recommend it.  As I just stated, there’s lots of things going boom to keep your attention.  The main plot centers on Elizabeth Kidd, a Coast Guard captain trying to keep her crew stable after the zombie apocalypse.  Things are complicated by the inclusion of her slightly sociopathic brother and her own fading sense of morality in this new and savage world.  I think the best part of the book is Kidd’s slow slide towards being amoral–she justifies things that she thinks are necessary and we get to see her acting worse and worse while supposedly doing “the right thing”.

But her story is just one of a bunch of things going on: an attack on the Nimitz from outside forces; a missing boy in the bowels of the derelict ship; the rise of a super zombie, or Hobgoblin, during the search for the boy; someone from the Nimitz going missing while on a helicopter flight; and of course, the long-promised earthquake (not a spoiler, as it’s plainly stated in the third book that it was going to happen).  For me, it was just too much happening at once, and my suspension of disbelief took a beating.

While still delivering some good thrills, Crossbones suffers from trying to cram too much into too small a space.

Three chocolate kisses... Decent, but overly chaotic plot-wise.

Three chocolate kisses… Decent, but overly chaotic plot-wise.