Book Review — Plague Town

Title:  Plague Town
Author:  Dana Fredsti
Genre:  Urban fantasy/zombie apocalypse
Pages:  Paperback, 350
Publisher:  Titan Books
Published:  April 2012
ISBN:  9780857686350

"In the small university town of Redwood Grove, people are succumbing to a lethal strain of the flu. They are dying—but not for long.

"Ashley Parker and her boyfriend are attacked by these shambling, rotting creatures that crave human flesh. Their lives will never be the same again.

"When she awakes Ashley discovers that she is a 'wild card'—immune to the virus—and is recruited by a shadowy paramilitary organization that offers her the change to fight back. Fatally attracted to her gorgeous instructor, and bonding with her fellow wild cards, Ashley begins to discover skills she never knew she had.

"As the town falls to ever-growing numbers of the infected, Ashley and her team fight to contain the outbreak—but will they be enough?"

~ Jacket copy


*NOTE:  After thinking about this review for a week, I realized that the rating I originally gave it was too harsh.  While I had issues with parts of this book, it really does not fall under a one skull rating.  If you're interested in reading this book, please do!  Even though my review is my honest opinion, you need to make up your own mind about it and give it a chance.  If you really like it, awesome!  Again, while my review is harshly worded, it did not deserve a one skull rating.*

I got this book shortly after it was published. However, due to so many other books being in my TBR pile, it got set aside. While cleaning my house and going through old books, I found this book and a few other treasures! It is amazing what happens when we clean our houses! When I first picked this book up, the concept seemed neat and—for a zombie book—somewhat original. Unfortunately, after 350 pages, I didn’t find anything original in the book.

The prologue had me hooked! I loved seeing the zombie virus starting at such a small, intimate point. Something about that opening was extremely powerful and gripping. However, even with that amazing start, the book went downhill in a hurry. Looking back at it, the quote at the onset should have been a big clue into the rest of the book: “’That’s how it always beings. Very small.’”

One of the things that will really set me off with any novel is a whiny, sanctimonious, arrogant, and cocky heroine. Add to that heroine the fact that she has an entitled attitude and cannot understand why people don’t kowtow to her. For me, that is the perfect description of Ashley Parker. She is an extremely one dimensional character, lacks the maturity of a twenty-nine-year-old, and is downright annoying. I found myself getting excited when she was first bitten by zombies. I was completely baffled as to why a twenty-nine-year-old divorcee would act just like a fresh faced, eighteen-year-old freshman who expects the world to bow to them. After being married to a professor, I would have thought she might be a little more respectful. I guess I was wrong. Honestly, I could understand why her husband went after an eighteen-year-old coed.

The incident with her TA, Gabriel, almost caused me to choke on my water. I couldn’t believe that a TA would behave that way! Granted, he had every right to be pissed that she walked in late. He was also well within his rights to throw her out of the classroom. However, that being said, he was belligerent in his treatment of her diet in the classroom. Add to that, he was way out of line in the student union. There is no way in hell that he would have gotten away with that type of behavior! I also couldn’t understand why no one called the campus police when he assaulted Matt. To say I was appalled at the author’s treatment of this is an extreme understatement! When I read the incidents to my father, a professor, he was equally disgusted. Further, if Professor Fraser excused Ashley’s absence, her TAs would have been made aware of that. That being said, what is Ashley doing walking into class late? If she was too sick to make it class on time, stay home! In addition, if you’re late, don’t make lame excuses for your absence while holding a cappuccino and a muffin. It shows a deep lack of respect.

The whole conspiracy theory behind Pompeii and Atlantis is too farfetched; it made me suspend my disbelief too much. If the author had said that drawings and early writings led them to believe that Pompeii was overrun by zombies, they had reason to believe that this virus was traveling alongside the Bubonic Plague (maybe gaining a foothold due to decreased immune systems), etc., I could have handled that. As it is, I found myself thinking the author should have used Dan Brown as a consultant.

Aside from a terrible heroine and the ludicrous incidents with her TA, the pop culture movie references were way too much. Honestly, as a reader, I felt as though the author was beating me about the head and shoulders with them. It felt as though the author was trying to show off her movie prowess, and the fact that she was in one. Using actors to describe people is also a cheap way of not doing the work (14). As a reader, I felt kind of cheated. Further, for a book to last, it has to stand the test of time. Ten years from now, people will not understand over half of the references the author dishes out. It won't be culturally relevant. “’It’s okay, Rico . . . cough cough,’ Tony grinned at us. ‘I don’t mind dying, because I got to have you.’ Another dramatic cough.” (315) If I hadn’t seen Starship Troopers a few years ago, I wouldn’t have caught this reference. Before that, the last time I saw the movie is when it came out in 1997. To me, the quote only made sense in context of the movie, and, even with that, it was completely out of place. This is a prime example of the movie allusions throughout the book. They only make sense if you’ve seen the movie and sometimes that is a stretch. In addition, it was not lost on me that—after name dropping Evil Dead and the author’s role in the movie—the main character in a zombie book is named Ashley and called Ash. Obvious? Oh, wait, they decided to give her a codename of Ash because of Evil Dead  >.<   It was as though the author was saying, “Look, here are my credentials! I was in Evil Dead; therefore, I am an authority on zombies!” On top of that, when Tony wanted to listen to the score from Army of Darkness, I almost beat my head on the coffee table. If I thought it couldn’t have gotten any worse, it did . . .

And, just as an aside, the publisher needs to invest in a good editor. Wow, the inconsistencies between sentences in the same paragraph, pages, etc., were just priceless.

On all fronts, this book was a total bust. It was not an enjoyable read, the characters were one dimensional at best, the clichés were over the top, and the movie quotes/references were enough to kill anyone. I’m sorry to say this, but it felt as though the author was trying to cash in on the rising popularity in zombie fiction. This book wasn’t original, it was underdeveloped, and in serious need of major content editing. As it stands, Plague Town is on top of my “used bookstore” stack.

Current Pages: 1805
Current Progress:

6/50 books

Much love, Sinn

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"If you’re a freak like me, Wave your flag! If you’re a freak like me, Get off your ass! It’s our time now, To let it all hang out!" I am a recovering English major, closet bibliophile, breve addicted, zombie lover with a rockabilly and heavy metal fetish.