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Book Review: Plague Nation

PlagueNationCover_FinalAuthor: Dana Fredsti
Publisher: Titan Books £6.99 available now
Review by: David Stonehouse

Hello zombie lovers, and welcome to the second part of Dana Fredsti’s undead apocalypse ‘Plague’
trilogy. If you loved the first one then this is more of the same, and if you didn’t well, erm…you get the
idea.

In book one we met our wise-cracking heroine, Ashley Parker, and saw her get munched by a zombie
while making out with her boyfriend in the woods. The boyfriend didn’t make it but Ashley turns out to
be a ‘wild-card’, one of a small minority of people who are resistant to the virus and mutate a few highly
useful enhancements like improved healing and physical resilience. Before long Ashley was teamed up
with other wild-cards into a crack anti-zombie squad defending the viral research department at the
small University town of Redwood Grove.

Plague Nation follows straight on from the first book’s events. Ashley and her friends are defending
the research unit while the barmy virus specialist, Dr Albert, who was responsible for engineering the
Walker virus in the first place, tries to find a way to put things right. Unfortunately, reports of new
outbreaks are coming in from all over the USA and it is clear that the plan of keeping the infection
contained has failed spectacularly. It soon becomes apparent that there are other agencies out there
that are keen to get their hands on Dr Albert for sinister reasons of their own. When the research base
is sabotaged and attacked by a special forces team Ashley and her team manage to fight off the invaders
but the lab is damaged beyond repair. Cue a deadly emergency dash to an alternative facility in San
Francisco where the city’s panicked population are being consumed by the rising zombie tide.

Ashley Parker remains the big draw of the book. She’s smart, sassy and fun company. Fredsti keeps her
sympathetic even though she’s a definite bad-ass, complete with machine guns and ninja swords. Her
constant stream of wisecracks is balanced against a sensitive side that emerges when her friends and
colleagues are placed in danger. As in the first book there is a heavy reliance on pop-culture references
which is usually entertaining but does grate occasionally and can feel intrusive, particularly in the middle
of a tense action sequence.

As for supporting characters there’s Lil, the bi-polar animal-loving zombie killing cheerleader (yep, you
read that right), and Gabriel, the love interest who isn’t quite as appealing as he ought to be on account
of being a slightly different bite victim mutant who will start eating flesh if he doesn’t keep taking his
meds. Beyond those two there’s not much point in getting too attached to anyone because characters
don’t tend to have a very long shelf life.

Fredsti keeps the action coming thick and fast and handles the big battles well. There’s lots of frenetic
running and fighting and she keeps it all tense and exciting. There isn’t very much variation from the
classic genre rules so it all feels quite comfortable and familiar. Fredsti also intercuts her main narrative
with italicised sections that show the spread of the virus around the USA and keep the reader focused
on the scale of the growing threat.

All in all Plague Nation is as good as its predecessor. It isn’t a demanding read and Fredsti isn’t
interesting in pushing boundaries or genre conventions. As old school zombie adventures go it’s a
satisfying but ultimately throwaway read. Still, if you like it, part three, Plague World, is on the way
soon. I’m not an expert or anything but I think there’s a chance that the final part will see the zombie
threat go global.

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