Audiobook Review: Day By Day Armageddon 3: Shattered Hourglass by J. L. Bourne

3 01 2013

Shattered Hourglass (Day By Day Armageddon, Bk. 3) by J. L. Bourne

Read by Jay Snyder

Audible Frontiers

Length: 9 Hrs 27 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thought: Shattered Hourglass was a decent military Zombie novel, with great ideas that just never seemed to pay off. On its own, it had some fun moments, but as a piece of the overall story, it was a disappointment. Yet, I have faith in Bourne, and while I may not like how he went about it, this novel does tie up most of the loose ends of the other books, perhaps leading once again to the more intimate style he excels at for the next novel.

Grade: C

Back before Zombie Audiobooks were all the rage, there was Day By Day Armageddon. Of course, this was only two years ago, and sure, there were Zombie Audiobooks before that, but I think JL Bourne’s epistolary Zombie novel was one of the first that really thrust the genre into the mainstream, capturing the imaginations of bludgeoning horror fans and creating a sense of excitement for our shambling undead brothers. Day By Day Armageddon was the novel that introduced me to Permuted Press, probably the premiere publisher focusing on post apocalyptic horror and zombie titles. Permuted did a great job discovering Independent Zombie authors and giving them a platform to broaden their base. Then, with their deal with Audible, began bringing the Zombie genre to the audiobook format. J L Bourne’s series, with its military feel and diary style has often been imitated, yet few have matched it. It’s an intimate glimpse at the apocalypse through the eyes of a military deserter who faces incredible odds, nuclear irradiated zombies, the unpredictability of the survivors and a secret conspiracy to find safety and comradeship in the changed world. Yet, I know I, as well as other fans looked towards book 3 with a hesitant tension. The way that Bourne ended Beyond Exile, the second book in the series, expanded the world in such a way that you knew there had to be a move away from the style that the fans of the author embraced so well. It was a logical move for the author, whose military knowledge and detailed mythology required a broader world. It was the right thing for Bourne to do with the series, but it was also a bug risk. A risk that may not have paid off as much as the author hoped.

I really hate the whole “I wanted to like this novel, but was disappointed” type of review, but this was where I found myself after listening to Shattered Hourglass. There were many great moments, some crazy badass scenarios, and a fascinated expanded world that made Shattered Hourglass a pretty solid military scifi Zombie thriller. Bourne blends some unique science fiction elements with classic zombie themes, that as a fan of both genres I really enjoyed, Yet, as a follow up to Beyond Exile and the Day By Day Armageddon world, too much was lost. I could have dealt with the change from a singular first person perspective, to a multi character third person tale, if Bourne used it to further build on the chemistry and develop the relationships of the characters we grew to love in the first two novels but instead, the characters are broken up, spread across the globe, and relatively isolated from each other. Also, Bourne has a lot of great ideas, but with the move from first to third person the writing suffered. With the first person story, the big jumps in time could be explained, but in Shattered Hourglass, the flow of time was confusing, often times leading me to thing I missed something. Shattered Hourglass felt more like a series of outline points that failed to transition properly. Not that the book was bad. We met some great new characters, and Bourne’s action is full of an authenticity that many other military themed novels lack. Yet, what really frustrated me was the ending. It seemed to me that Bourne was going places with each setting, setting up a big final moment for every character, and then just sort of skipped over it. It was sort of like, “We got to China, [stuff happened], we completed out mission.” Yet, what I was really waiting for was the stuff. I wanted more stuff. I had actually thought that the whole novel was a set up for the next in the series where we would get all the stuff, but, wham, bam, it was over. Shattered Hourglass was a decent military Zombie novel, with great ideas that just never seemed to pay off. On its own, it had some fun moments, but as a piece of the overall story, it was a disappointment. Yet, I have faith in Bourne, and while I may not like how he went about it, this novel does tie up most of the loose ends of the other books, perhaps leading once again to the more intimate style he excels at for the next novel.

Jay Snyder is one of the most technically proficient narrators out there. He is a master of pacing, giving the novels he reads the feel of a cinematic blockbuster. Give his a well described character, with vocal quirks and he will deliver. Fill your story with a bunch of underdeveloped, cookie cutter characters, and you will have trouble distinguishing one person from the next in Snyder’s reading. For Shattered Hourglass, we had both situations. There are some awesome, well developed and quirky characters interspersed between to pretty standard stereotypical white male military typos. This fact leads to an unbalanced feel, often contributing to the lack of discernable transitions in the story. Audiobook fans the rely on vocal and pacing changes when the novel transitions from perspective to perspective may have trouble at times with Shattered Hourglass, like I did. The overall performance of Snyder was excellent, but his style only accentuated some of the problems with the writing. I think this audiobook may have benefited with more of a quirky independent style than a Cinematic Blockbuster style of reading. Shattered Hourglass is a must listen for fans of the Day By Day Armageddon, just beware that it may not be the follow up you were hoping for.

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One response

3 01 2013
krishna

I was really looking forward to listening to this book.

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