BOOK REVIEW: PLAGUE WORLD / AUTHOR: DANA FREDSTI / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The adventures of superannuated wildcard zombie-slayer Ashley Parker come to a page-turning conclusion in Plague World, the third of Dana Fredsti’s relentlessly enjoyable end-of-the-world horror trilogy. The second novel, Plague Nation, saw Ashley and her fellow wildcards infiltrate a zombie-invested San Francisco in their quest to track down the scientists who may just hold the key to mankind’s salvation in the form of a serum which might provide resistance to the ’Walker’s virus’ which has reanimated the dead. But all’s not gone well; the group has been ambushed and one of their number – Ashley’s putative love interest Gabriel – has been kidnapped by mysterious black-clad storm troopers and whisked off to a secret facility in San Diego.
Readers of the previous novels will know what to expect from Plague Nation and, in most regards, the book doesn’t disappoint. The action is as frenetic and adrenalised as ever, the text is studded with pop culture references (Shaun of the Dead, Doctor Who and Firefly all get a shout-out) and the book barrels along towards its action-packed conclusion. But the pace is a bit slower here, the text occasionally a bit more thoughtful. Ashley has some new problems to deal with; her bipolar fellow wildcard Lil desperately needs her meds to keep her balanced and rational and new boy Griff is a potential sex pest. There’s a lot more talking going on here, long scenes of characters sitting about in canteens and meeting rooms, before the book plunges headlong into its frantic finale as Ashley and co reach San Diego and find out the cause of and reasons for the virus which threatens to wipe out all mankind. We get a view of the bigger worldwide picture too, courtesy of regular vignettes depicting the viral outbreak in the UK, Japan, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia and the terror of those caught in the chaos and confusion; it never ends well.
For all the schlockiness of its storyline, Fredsti’s book is populated by four-square, well-developed characters, and its witty and naturalistic dialogue, throbbing action sequences and sky-rocketing high stakes ensure that Plague World is as effortlessly readable as the first two entries in the series. As the novel ends the world’s still turning – just about – and Ashley Parker’s still out there, fighting the good fight. The battle’s won but the war still rages. It’d be a shame if we weren’t invited along for the ride as Ashley continues her struggle with the undead hordes. Over to you, Dana…