Plague Nation by Dana Fredsti

Rating 7.0/10
The same engaging and thrilling approach that really makes it a page turner.

The sequel to Dana Fredsti’s first novel Plague Town, Plague Nation follows our favourite smart-mouthed protagonist Ashley as the zombie plague continues to spread into the larger towns, and she and her fellow Wild Cards are the only thing that can stop it.

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.

Plague Nation has the same breakneck speed as Plague Town but on a bigger scale, allowing the reader a glimpse into the larger world as the plague begins to spread, but also continuing to explore the relationships between the wild cards and those that travel with them. Fredsti can’t be faltered on the zombie aspect of her writing, it’s exciting, imaginative and in some cases pretty disturbing. She’s clearly thought hard about the logistics of the virus and how it could spread, and these parts work especially well, driving the story forward and making you want to turn the pages.

The aspect where Plague Nation falls down slightly, and it’s a problem suffered by the vast majority of zombie novels, is the character development. Striking a balance between zombies and characters is always difficult, and whilst Fredsti managed it quite well in the first it begins to fall flat in the second. True, we find out a bit more about the character’s backgrounds and what makes them tick, but there are still some pretty fundamental characteristics that seem to be missing from Ashley’s companions. The insights you gain about Ashley herself really make you connect and empathise with her character, dragging you deeper into the zombie world and her personal plight. She’s a funny, strong, intelligent character and really makes the book what it is. It’s just unfortunate that the rest of her group doesn’t get the same treatment.

All in all, it’s a decent follow up to Plague Nation, with the same engaging and thrilling approach that really makes it a page turner. True the characters are a bit lacking at times, but when you’ve got zombie hordes at every turn it doesn’t actually take that much away from the main story. If you want a gory zombie novel with all the trimmings, definitely check this book out and keep an eye out for the next in the collection.

You can read an extract from Plague Nation here on Fantasy Book Review and for the opportunity to win a copy of the book, simply tweet: “I would like a copy of Plague Nation @TitanBooks @danafredsti #plaguenation”.

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