Zombies. Secret paramilitary organizations. Pop-culture references. Cute and realistic love stories. If you dig at least one of those things, then boy do I have a book for you!
Plague Nation by Dana Fredsti is a breath of fresh-sequel air in a zombie-infested world of fiction these days. Picking up right where Plague Town (available now from Titan Books) left off, Nation continues the story of Ashley Parker: a 30-something ex-wife-turned-college-student-turned-wild-card, and an unlikely, but vastly entertaining heroine.
Here’s a (mostly) spoiler free rundown of Plague Town, so you know enough to (hopefully) enjoy the rest of this review! We first meet Ashley Parker in the university town of Redwood Grove. She’d recently been through a divorce, was back in college, and dating a younger, hotter, sweeter guy than her never-seen ex. The flu is going around town, a new strain dubbed “Walker’s Flu,” and she had it, got better, then watched the little world around her crumble into zombies. After she and her hunky beau get attacked and bitten, she discovers she’s a “wild card” – that is, immune to whatever is causing zombification, even when she’s bitten. She also gets her senses and physicality amped up quite a bit (a la Alice in Resident Evil, perhaps?) and is recruited to join a crazy-secret black ops group to defeat the zombies. She finds out she’s not the only wild card, and is joined by a handful of other super-strong zombie-immune weirdos. Spoiler: She lives through the first book, and at the end, the proverbial excrement hits the proverbial zombie-bladed fan. Rife with pop-culture quotes, quips and references, Plague Town is a fresh-take on the zombie ‘verse, and a must-read for all the “deets.” Now, cue the sequel!
Plague Nation takes us right back into the thick of it all, with the twist of, you might have guessed it, zombies are no longer just in Redwood Grove. Ashley and her fellow wild cards, along with the soldiers, scientists, doctors and others, have to fight to save humanity as we know it, killing zombies, saving innocent people, and trying to find the cure for the mass undeadifying going on. Their main mission is to secure a secret facility in San Francisco, but of course, nothing in life is ever easy. Especially when there are zombies afoot. And a psuedo stalker. And a huge geek apartment filled with lots of cool stuff (including, apparently, a life-size T.A.R.D.I.S. replica!). And jerk-faces. And zombies. Oh, and more zombies. In a lot more places than expected.
This book is a pretty quick read. It clocks in at 336 pages, so it’s not a tome, but more than length, the writing style will keep you turning pages. You grow fond of the characters, because they’re not perfect. They’re weird, or neurotic, or obsessed with “name that quote”, and sometimes they even make mistakes. They’re you, if you were basically a superhero fighting off zombies with a katana or something. The only thing that might slow down the read is the inclusion of sometimes-peripherally-related interludes. It seems that the author had a lot more “zombie attack” scenes in mind than would work for the story, and so peppered the book with them. I occasionally got a little frustrated, particularly after a 7-page detour that had nothing to do with anything, other than showing where the outbreak had spread to in another area. 7 pages of italicized randomness, when a newspaper heading referenced or seen would have sufficed. That’s really my only complaint, though. And that’s saying something, because I can complain with the best of them!
So, for the short version:
- Crazy-cool zombie killing organization
- References on everything from The Zombie Survival Guide to The Walking Dead
- Sweet and bittersweet love stories
What’s not to love?
I give Plague Nation