I may have been a bit unfair in my review of John Ringo’s second book in the Black Tide Rising series, To Sail a Darkling Sea, when I gave it two stars out of five possible recently. The two reasons I gave for it were the way he portrayed his 13- and 15- year old protagonists, and the fact that the book was simply a continuation of the previous story, and not a stand-alone story.
Well, after reading book 3, Islands of Rage and Hope, I’m remembering how I felt when I left the theater after seeing The Empire Strikes Back the first time. Leaving the movie as a cliffhanger, and on a downer as it was, didn’t make me happy. In fact, I almost wanted my money back. But critics today emphasize that The Empire Strikes Back was necessary to the story. And I think I have a better understanding.
I liked Islands much better than To Sail for the those very reasons. The band of misfits called the Wolf Squadron is getting bigger, there’s a lot more emphasis on other people joining the group and the larger story, and the bigger picture is taking shape. In fact, I enjoyed it quite well. I applaud Ringo’s apparent vast knowledge of the military that goes well beyond how to shoot a rifle, and his ability to take what looks like a complex situation and come up with innovative solutions.
The books focuses on the freeing of Guantanamo Bay Military Base, then various islands in the Caribbean, in search of medical supplies so they can start producing serum to stop the zombie virus. It ends with a surprise emergency visit to Europe, which I won’t give the details and spoil the fun.
Don’t get me wrong. The two girls, Sophia and Faith, are still in the middle of things. But as the U.S. military gets more involved, the looseness and sexual innuendoes that prevailed in the earlier books aren’t there as much. Instead, there’s an amazing amount of great storytelling on a highly complex level.
Once again, it’s not one of those books you can pick up if you haven’t read the earlier volumes. But if you have, you won’t be disappointed.
I give it four out of five stars.