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RIP Z.A. Recht: The Ending of The Morningstar Strain

Survivors: The Morningstar Strain is a novel that I have been waiting a very long time for. The first two novels, The Plague of The Dead & Thunder and Ashes, were written by Z.A. Recht, who passed away unexpectedly before the final book was completed. Of course, any time someone passes away, regardless of the circumstances, no one likes having to say goodbye, but I couldn’t help being disappointed that the zombie community had just lost such an incredibly talented author. I had learned about the author’s death shortly after it happened because I was wondering when Recht was planning to complete the third book.

This was the last post of his that I read:

“Regarding The Morningstar Strain: Survivors:

I have been hard at work on the third and final installment in the Saga, and am pleased with its progress. It has taken me a long time to get it down to the point where I’m pleased with it, and I hope that when I finally do ship it out the door, you will all find it a worthy addition to the story.

The moment I have concrete information regarding a release date, I will post it here. In the meantime, rest assured that I am diligently adding to and editing the work every day, and look forward to completing the trilogy.

Oh, and don’t worry, folks. The Saga might end with Survivors, but that doesn’t mean we’ve heard the end of the Morningstar Strain…

…after all, viruses are tough little suckers to kill, right?”

Zachary Allan Recht was born February 4, 1983 and died on December 10, 2009. His family set up a non-profit memorial scholarship fund, after his passing.

Survivors was completed by horror author Thom Brannan, and I think Brannan did a great job staying true to the style of Recht. It had been so long since I read the first two books that I set aside some time to read all three novels, back to back, and the fact that the blood and gore poured so effortlessly from the first two into the third proves that Brannan knows his way around the undead, and I strongly recommend that zombiephiles check out Brannan’s other work (even the horror books without zombies).

It’s been YEARS since an ending to a zombie story ripped my guts out like that! I love authors that aren’t afraid to kill off characters, especially some of the main ones, and – after everything the survivors have been through in the three books just to get to Omaha, NE – they deserved an ending with such spectacular action sequences.

In Plague of The Dead, the virus outbreak begins overseas. At first the carriers, nicknamed “sprinters,” behave like the infected from 28 Days Later, and can be killed with any mortal wound. However, they reanimate as “shamblers,” and can only be put down with a head shot. It doesn’t take long for the Morningstar virus to spread worldwide, and in the chaos, two groups emerge: a General leading his people and similar survivors to the U.S. in hopes of finding a safe haven, and a military doctor trying to make her way to a research lab to engineer a vaccine for the remaining population, which is quickly dwindling in numbers.

In Thunder and Ashes, readers are shown how much devastation can take place in just three months after the initial outbreak. The General’s group has dwindled to almost nothing, and the doctor is being hunted down by a rebel faction that has broken away from the main government. Despite all the new obstacles, both groups are still trying to make their way to the research facility in Omaha, NE.

In Survivors, several characters from the first two books decide to follow the General’s group, bringing with them new hope for a vaccine: an immune survivor. All of the different storylines converge on the research facility, leading into one of the bloodiest battles that has ever appeared in the pages of a zombie saga.

I couldn’t have predicted the events of the third book if I had tried…specifically, the way the ending went down. I was left with a few questions…for example, was the nature of the virus changing? It appears that the Morningstar virus was mutating, but it wasn’t addressed directly by the characters, so I was left to guess what it might mean for the survivors. Even with a few loose ends, I wasn’t disappointed at all.

If you haven’t already, you need to add The Morningstar Strain series to your zombie-lit collection.

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