Review: “To Sail a Darkling Sea” by John Ringo

To Sail A Darkling Sea (Black Tide Rising Book 2) by John Ringo. Baen Books. 522 pages.

John Ringo, in my opinion, is one of the best military sci-fi writers around. He really knows his stuff, military wise. In addition, he’s an entertaining writer. That’s probably why you have seen so many reviews lately with his name associated with them.

To Sail a Darkling Sea is the second book in a series that has to do with a worldwide virus that ends with a zombie epidemic. The Smith family, already preppers, stay ahead of the mess and sail out of New York City on a yacht to just survive. But halfway through book one, Steven “Wolf” Smith decides that surviving is not enough, and turns their goal into rescuing as many people as possible who are stranded on the countless boats, life rafts and ships between New York and Bermuda. His rescues turn his one boat into many, and eventually they form what is called the Wolf Squadron.

Book 2, To Sail a Darkling Sea, isn’t anything new. It continues the story as Wolf Squadron is incorporated into the United States Navy, and keeps its mission of rescuing people, on boats, then cruise ships, then even on the U.S.S. Iwo Jima, a Marine assault ship the size of a World War II aircraft carrier. Eventually, because of weather, they travel to the Canary Islands and start to liberate towns and cities there. Their eventual goal is to return the U.S. Military Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and set up a permanent location to work from.

The story is interesting, and I am enjoying it. The two problems I have with it are these. First, it is obviously a continuing story, and the book is a collection of events that follow one after another, rather than having a beginning, middle and end. In that sense, the three (four?) book series could have been written under one cover. It’s one of those stories that is structured much like TV series rather than a movie.

The biggest problem I have is that most of the story is told from the perspective of Steven Smith’s two teenage daughters: Faith, age 13 and Sophia, age 15. I have noticed a tendency that Ringo has in his writing to make teenage girls larger than life. In fact, almost all of the women (and girls) in his stories are gorgeous, and there is a lot of emphasis on how attractive they are to the men around them. I especially have an issue with this when you are talking about a 13 and 15 year old girl being surrounded by adult men. The language tends to be pretty adult too. In addition to this, their abilities seem to be a bit over the top. Apparently Ringo doesn’t believe in characters growing as the story goes along.

But he may be more in touch with his audience than I am, and that may be what his typical reader is looking for; I don’t know. All that I know is that I find myself wondering what kind of message John Ringo is trying to send with the way he is portraying 13 year old girls, and if he has daughters.

I give this book two out of five stars.