Review: Plague Nation / Author: Dana Fredsti / Publisher: Titan Books / Release Date: Out Now
Ashley Parker, zombie slasher, is back with her gang of virus-immune wildcard super soldiers in this cheerfully entertaining sequel to last year’s Plague Town. The first book in the trilogy saw the arrival of Walker’s Flu and the decimation of a small American suburban town in the wake of the disease’s unfortunate tendency to kill its victims and then reanimate them as blood-crazy zombies. Bitten in an early attack, feisty Ashley Parker discovers that she is a member of an elite few who are not only immune to the disease and the physical effects of attack by the living dead, but who also have heightened senses, strength and agility. This perfect fighting force set out to defend the local scientific enclave where desperate experiments are being carried out to find a cure before the disease can spread further across the country… and maybe even the world.
Too late. As the title of this second novel suggests, Walker’s Flu is on the move and, with their own sanctuary under attack and compromised from hostile outside forces, Ashley and her team have to race against time to relocate their chief scientist, who co-created the virus in the first place, to a new laboratory facility deep in the heart of San Francisco. But by the time they arrive, the city is already under attack and sinking fast…
Fredsti’s books are the literary equivalent of junk food; no good can come of them but they’re relentlessly enjoyable and as soon as you’ve finished you’re desperate to move on to the next one. Plague Nation is an unpretentious, fast-paced, action-packed shoot-'em-up zombie novel punctuated, like its predecessor, with dozens of pop culture references (even Doctor Who gets a couple of shout-outs this time around alongside the usual slew of I-know-my-zombie-lore name-dropping) and wise-cracking tough nut characters. But despite the disposability of the whole endeavour, it’s page-turning stuff and Fredsti’s characters are likeable caricatures, and this second novel deepens some of the core relationships and expands on the conspiracy theory subplots hinted at in Plague Town. There are even some deaths too, to remind us that Ashley and co may be superhuman but they’re not immortal or indestructible and the novel ends, after a breathless battle against the odds in an overrun San Francisco, with yet more questions to be answered, key characters separated and with the world falling apart all around Ashley’s ears. Plague Nation is almost embarrassingly entertaining, so here’s to volume three, Plague World.