Book Review: Plague Town
With the immense popularity of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” it’s obvious that zombies have invaded popular culture, and they’re here to stay. Before they entered the mainstream though, a devoted group of us was already devouring every book and movie we could get our hands on featuring the undead antagonists. In our loyal following was author Dana Fredsti, who parlayed her expertise on all things zombie into the gripping horror novel Plague Town.
Just like other great zombie books and movies, Fredsti’s story concentrates on the vital thing that people crave: human connection. When the zombie apocalypse comes, and resources are scarce, mankind is not only at war with the undead for survival but also with itself. This dire situation can bring out the best and the worst in human beings, which often leads us, as readers to question our own morals.
Dwelling very little on the dark side of human nature, Fredsti takes a largely positive approach, by showing us how the zombie threat can unify different individuals through a common goal. It’s a ragtag group like this, which Fredsti uses to get us emotionally invested in the characters.
Plague Town centers on Ashley Parker, a college student whose sleepy town is taken over by the undead. Ashley discovers that she’s a wildcard, meaning she is immune to the virus which caused the entire mess. Not only can she survive zombie bites, but she also possesses enhanced senses and healing abilities which make her a valuable asset against the enemy. Teaming up with the military and a misfit group of other wildcards, Ashley must destroy the infestation before it spreads to the surrounding areas.
If you’re a zombiephile you might be reading this thinking, “Human connection is great, but where’s all the action, gore, humor, and romance I enjoy in traditional zombie lore?” Don’t worry, none of that was left out. Because Fredsti knows you’re the target audience, Plague Town has the stuff you want in ample supply.
After a brief series of training scenes, the wildcards engage in a number exciting of battle sequences to repel the undead hoards. In these skirmishes there are plenty of badass weapons to keep genre fans happy: Ashley’s preferred sword, M-4 rifles, grenades, and the mighty flamethrower. In these moments you’ll get colorful visual descriptions of the rotting corpses, however if you’re a gore fiend, you’ll be most satisfied with the zombie transformation process. Fredsti’s depiction is vivid with nasty blood and hemorrhaging preceding a person’s reanimation.
Much of the humor in Plague Town comes from Fredsti’s heroine Ashley, who is delightfully sarcastic. She has an amazing inner monologue which will crack you up, especially when she chooses not to vocalize her hilarious opinions of those around her. The other chuckles you’ll get come from the author’s clever references to all aspects of nerd culture including made-for-SyFy movies, “Twilight,” and Resident Evil games to name a few.
Fredsti even has the romance angle covered. Using the skillset she has acquired writing for the Ravenous Romance series, the author effectively builds romantic tension between Ashley and a teacher’s aide Gabriel, who becomes her group’s leader. Fredsti thankfully doesn’t leave you hanging, rewarding readers with a couple of satisfying scenes that get hot and heavy.
Dana Fredsti’s Plague Town is a fast-paced read which will satiate any zombiephile’s appetite. It has been described as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” meets zombies, which is definitely accurate, although does not do nearly enough service to the book’s skillful delivery of action, humor, gore and romance. This zombie lover can’t wait for its sequel, Plague Nation.
Plague Town is published by Titan Books and available today in stores.