Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Plague Nation by Dana Fredsti


The undead have been defeated in Redwood Grove, CA, but reports of similar outbreaks are coming in. What seemed to be an isolated event is turning into a pandemic.  The last thing Ashley Parker wanted when she went to college was to join the military, but she is one of a select few who are immune to the virus. Gifted with enhanced speed, strength, and senses, she’s recruited by a shadowy international organization that’s existed for centuries, its sole purpose to combat the zombie threat.

Dark secrets begin to emerge, and when an unknown enemy strikes, Ashley and the other zombie hunters—known as “wild cards”—embark on a desperate mission to reach San Francisco. If they fail, the plague will sweep the nation unchecked. And the person she cares for most may die. Or worse.

I was a tad leery to begin Plague Nation, Dana Fredsti’s follow up to Plague Town.  I enjoyed Plague Town but have been burned by series with promising starts before, especially a horror series when I know there is a third book and thus Ashley will live.  All these worries ended up being incredibly unfounded.
This is a straight up kick ass sequel.  Picking up shortly after the events of the first book Fredsti throws readers right back into the action.  She also shows us that no one aside from Ashley is safe.  And this is where she brilliantly creates the necessary tension for a zombie thriller.  Ashley is most concerned with protecting and saving her team, and in this Ashley can still fail.  Her physical life is safe, but who she is, is always at risk.
This brings me to my favorite point of Plague Nation.  Fredsti acknowledges that chopping up the living dead will take its toll on the human psyche.  Ashley is forced to better define herself and what she stands for due to the extreme situations she finds herself in. 
Just as Ashley cares about her team, so does the reader.  Fredsti seem to know here core audience well the team is perfectly described as early on as, “”ROTC’s answer to the Big Bang Theory.”
 This brings me to one of my earlier complaints from Plague Town, I found the horror references to be distracting.  While they continue in this follow up I enjoyed them more.  Fredsti no longer explains each reference so each reader will get it.  If you do its awesome, if not the story keeps moving and the odd characters just seem odd.  They are also much broader than just horror references.  Some of us speak in an almost entire second language of nerdy references and Fredsti captures this essence with near perfection.  (I am sensing some serious nerd on her now)
One complaint that is more a pet peeve, there is a cut away sex scene.  I don’t need every moan and thrust described, however it feels awkward especially after the first book never cut away. 
More is also revealed about Walker’s disease (the zombie virus).  Here again is the potential for cheesy misstep, that Fredsti walks perfectly.  She creates a detailed mythology with involved teasing mysteries.  In this success Ashley’s world becomes richer and more vibrant. 

In the end;
Ashley Parker is still both tough and funny, yet ultimately human.  Dana Fredsti’s creation is a well needed and welcome female protagonist for the horror genre(and fiction in general, you all know the serious offender here).   The action is still fierce and well written, an especially difficult feet with fights involving multiple zombies.  The story gets deeper and more involved without ever feeling forced.  This is a rare sequel that trumps the original.  While I normally reserve five stars for novels that eerily scare the shit out of me, Plague Nation earns every star.  The most fun you are likely to have with zombies in book form. 

Click Image for Review of Plague Town.

1 comment: