Book Review: ‘Plague Nation’ by Dana Fredsti

Now here’s a book review that is long over due (thanks in no part to Australia Post whose delivery times seem to be decided by a dice roll). One of the reasons why we’ve been looking forward this book is because it has one of the greatest characters ever written.

A couple of years ago Dana Fredsti, previously the sword master on Evil Dead: Army of Darkness, took up the pen and started writing about zombies. Although the world is under attack by a horde of zombie fictions Plague Town stood out for it’s pure geekiness and awesome attitude. The story revolves around Ashley Parker who lives in a small university town. When an infection causes a swarm of zombies to descend on the town Ashley discovers that she is a Wild Card, a rare anomaly who are resilient to the zombie virus and trained to fight back against the undead.

Plague-Nation-coverThe new sequel Plague Nation picks up immediately after the first story with the the Wild Cards having been dealt a heavy blow by a massive swarm but still working their way through the town to clear out the menace before the menace can spread. As you can tell by the title (and this being a trilogy) this is a futile mission and the plague has started turning up in major cities. Towards the end of the story the crew head into San Francisco where a full outbreak is occurring in a bid to find a cure. The action is plenty visceral with lots of imaginative scenarios for the gun-toting and sword wielding Wild Cards to battle their way through. There are frequent cuts to isolated incidents of people getting caught up in the mayhem. This passages feature the most shocking moments, such as a trio of survivors trapped in the middle of a rail bridge with hungry zombies on either side and dehydration setting in.

Ashley Parker makes for a solid leading lady, with her and the Wild Card’s essentially taking the role of a bunch of geeks turned superhero zombie hunters. Expect lots (and lots and lots) of pop culture references. With their chosen weapons including crowbars and katana swords and they swap comic book and video game quips while hacking their way through the shambling corpses. The emotional core of the story comes in the form of the personal relationships between Ash and her team mates. Her young room-mate is struggling after running out of meds, her plague carrying love interest is in danger of losing his humanity and she’s torn by having to protect the man who may have caused the plague.

Amid the carnage that they experience in San Francisco comes a couple of new faces. A couple of snipers bolster the armed members of the team and a wise-cracking free runner provides a potential new love interest. Best of all is the aforementioned greatest character ever: me. Yes, me. G-Funk. Fredsti was awesome enough to write me in the story and even more awesomely kept me alive for the closing part of the trilogy. On a personal note it was kinda surreal seeing so many of my traits (washing hands, wearing a pocket watch) in print but the apartment that Fredsti concocted for me is downright awesome! I’d like to know just where to get those Batgnomes for the garden…

Personal interest aside this is plenty of geeky, zombie fun. If you speak the geek language you’ll find the characters very relatable and very possibly reacting the same way you’d react during a zombie apocalypse. You have to respect characters who use Max Brook’s Zombie Survival Guide as a reference point. Being the middle part of a planned trilogy the story doesn’t have a real resolution, leaving a steep cliff hanger in the closing chapters. Guess we’ll just have to wait for Plague World!