Book Review: Islands of Rage and Hope

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A Review of Islands of Rage and Hope by John Ringo

Avery Abernethy, 12 November 2014


Islands of Rage and Hope is the third novel in John Ringo’s intelligent zombie apocalypse series.  Steven Smith (Wolf), his wife, and daughters Sophia and Faith (Seawolf and Shewolf) have continued to build their flotilla in the Atlantic.  The novel starts with Wolf Squadron’s attack on the bare remnants of the US military forces at Guantanamo Bay Cuba.  The hope of Wolf Squadron, which now leads the largest surviving contingent of US military forces in operation, is capturing enough of the right medical equipment to start large scale manufacture of a vaccine against the zombie drug.  If vaccine production can be restarted, then the crews of US nuclear submarines can be turned into an effective land fighting force.


Just after I finished reading this book, a scary new twist in the real-world Ebola virus gripped much of the world.  Two medical missionaries infected with Ebola were flow back from Africa to nearby Atlanta and hopefully cured.  This real world episode framed Ringo’s coverage of the manufacture of a vaccine for a deadly disease in an uncomfortably real perspective.  Much of the discussion of how to isolate a vaccine, the risks of various vaccines, and the production speed of vaccine covered in the book is now in the pages of newspapers world-wide.

islandsAlthough the last book built up to the attack on Guantanamo Bay, this was easily accomplished in the early chapters of the current novel.  But Guantanamo lacked some of the medical materials needed to restart vaccine manufacture to counter the zombie plague.  Wolf Squadron must continue their search.  The troops rescued from Cuba are a mixture of rear echelon types, or troops with combat experience in the Middle East.  All painfully discover that 14-year-old Marine lieutenant Faith Smith (Shewolf) and her bare handful of battle tested Marines have the battle experience and tactics needed to successfully fight zombies.


Much of the book centers on the traditional military topics of how to integrate green troops into experienced line infantry, how military experience against one threat sometimes does not translate well against different threats, and how people with rank but little experience can cause difficulties for line combat troops.  The difficulties of both teaching inexperienced troops, noncoms and officers in new forms of battle, and the difficulty of maintaining military discipline and order while accomplishing the mission and keeping the troops alive is handled very well.


In an interesting and hilarious side topic, we get John Ringo’s vision of how modern celebrities would handle a real emergency.  Yes, the female “celebrities” from the hit TV program “Zombie Apocalypse Survivor” must try to survive a real Zombie Apocalypse.  Ringo has pulled this off successfully in other novels.  One spoiler, “Snookie” does not come off well.


I found this book to be a great deal of fun and a fast read.  I polished this off in two days and enjoyed every minute.  If you like this type of book, or like Ringo’s other work then I highly recommend the latest novel.  I cannot go into plot details without providing massive spoilers.  But how Ringo handles the twists and turns of this plot are amazing.  I just wish that he and other writers of apocalyptic fiction such as S.M. Stirling could please stop focusing on members of a certain European Royal Family.  Instead, why not focus on descendants of Dwight Eisenhower or Teddy Roosevelt?

Books in this series:  Under a Graveyard SkyTo Sail a Darkling SeaIslands of Rage and Hope

Avery Abernethy is a professor of Marketing at Auburn University who has read more books on world history, military history, and historical military fiction than most.


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