I posted my R.I.P. for Z.A. Recht on December 21st. Technically it's December 26th, and yesterday I finished "Thunder and Ashes", the second book in the Morningstar Strain. The marathon reading session was brought on by the amazing content of the book. I still can't believe that the author passed away and his literary voice has been silenced. His books are without a doubt my favorite zombie books out of all that I have read in my lifetime. During his short writing career, he wrote two amazingly powerful books.
I have no idea where to explain how amazing the second book was. "Thunder and Ashes" picked up the storyline seamlessly from where "Plague of the Dead" left off. The transition was so smooth that it felt like one whole book instead of two. Recht showed his writing prowess in that he didn't waste space in the book giving too much background information on the established characters, but rather moving the book forward. That's one of my peeves in book series - the paragraphs and paragraphs spent reminding the reader about the character. (Just a hint - if the character requires that much explanation in the following novels, they were most likely a forgettable character anyway.)
Recht's strongest talent as a writer was to be able to produce living, breathing characters. I found it hard to believe that the characters weren't real people. Their words, actions, lives, and deaths all felt realistic. Not a single moment went by in "Thunder and Ashes" where I felt that the characters had acted strangely.
Similar to the first book, "Thunder and Ashes" was full of action. Firefights, undead hordes, and malevolent humans are in abundance in this novel, and all have perfect timing. This novel was every bit the page-turner that I was expecting from Recht. This book was also the second piece of zombie literature that has caused me to cry while reading. I had to say goodbye to one of my favorite characters. Recht let the character go with dignity and heroism (I'm not telling you whom - go buy the book!).
"Thunder and Ashes" is an absolutely phenomenal book and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting novel. Incidentally, although the book deals with military terms, it is not overwhelming. I am not familiar with very many military terms but still found the book enjoyable, and even learned a few new terms while reading.