Thursday, 31 July 2014

'Plague World' - Dana Fredsti (Titan Books)

Having been ambushed in San Francisco, which is now fully engulfed in the zombie plague, Ashley and the wild cards must pursue the enemy to San Diego. There they will discover a splinter of their own organization, the Dolofónoi tou Zontanoús Nekroús, which seeks to weaponize the plague. But that isn’t the worst news. The plague has gone airborne, making it transferable without physical contract. It cannot be controlled by anyone, so reports of the zombie swarm are coming in from across the United Statesand across the world.

Yep, when I said there were only a couple more zombie series that I was waiting to finish reading, before quitting the genre for good, Dana Fredsti's series is one of them. Despite their veering into Urban Fantasy territory at times (nothing wrong with that, just not something that I'm interested in), the 'Ashley Parker' books have been a lot of fun to read and there was never any doubt that I would be around to see the conclusion. I'm assuming that 'Plague World' is the final book by the way although I could be wrong. With the way that the titles have gone ('Plague Town' and 'Plague Nation') it's hard to see where the series could go after 'Plague World'. 'Plague Moon' might be a possibility (although I wouldn't have thought so) but I can't see it going any further than that. And that's fine. Everything has to end and it's always best to end on the best note that you can. Like 'Plague World'; a book where, if it is the last in the series, rounds things off in the best that it can.

I seem to find myself saying this a lot just recently but 'Plague World' doesn't really do anything new when set against the preceding two books. Various relationships are played out against an increasingly violent zombie apocalypse and Ashley finds herself having to make tough (even heart wrenching decisions) just to survive each day. People who have read the first two books will see instantly that nothing has really changed in the delivery and, in fairness, we shouldn't really expect it to. This is how the series has built itself up and, three books in, you shouldn't really expect any massive changes.
I'm not a hundred percent sure how I feel about this though. I shouldn't expect a big change (and especially not when Fredsti has far more important matters on her hand in terms of tying everything together) but I couldn't help but feel like a change in pace perhaps, or some real surprises (more on that in a bit) could have really made the difference.

Like I said though, Fredsti has a series to conclude (or plot-arc, I still can't decide whether there are any more books to come) and she does it pretty damn well, tying up loose ends amidst a backdrop of zombies and secret government organisations gone rogue. It's an explosive finale even if some of the revelations weren't exactly revelatory, at least not to me. Things were signposted a little too clearly for me and that robbed certain scenes of the intensity that Fredsti clearly had planned. By the end of the book though, all plot strands are neatly tied off and that added a sense of closure that I really appreciated.    

It's not all bad though, far from it. 'Plague World' has all the action and excitement of the first two books with an unsettling feeling that no-one is truly safe, even if they are a Wild Card with immunity to the zombie plague. Fredsti strikes a good balance between showing the apocalypse through the eyes of Ashley and how it is spreading across the world at the same time. I liked that approach as it really added some depth to the narrative.

I've been moaning about the constant zombie media references, in the preceding books, but with 'Plague World' came to find it all a little endearing in a geeky way (the book, not me). I've realised that what we have here is essentially 'Ready Player One' with zombies and I loved 'Ready Player One' (so can't really complain if  someone else adds their own spin on that approach).

I said yesterday that I'm done with zombie books and unless there's an excellent series out that there that I've forgotten that's still the case. I've heard it all now and nothing new is being said. This being the case, 'Plague World' is a good novel to sign out on. It may have its issues but it rounds off the zombie apocalypse whilst offering some hope for an uncertain future. Kind of how I feel actually :o)
Fans will get a lot out of the ending; newcomers should do themselves a favour and give 'Plague Town' a shot.

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