Author: David Wellington
Published By: Smashwords
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Some time ago, author Brian James Freeman pointed me toward a new website featuring deeply discounted prices on horror eBooks. In my first visit to eHorrorBargains, I picked up Plague Zone, an intriguing little zombie novel by David Wellington.
In Plague Zone, Tim Kempfer, former librarian, is attempting to go home. Just before the world turned upside down, Tim traveled to Chicago for a librarian convention. As he left, he never dreamed that this would be the last day he would see his wife and child alive. You see, while Tim was travelling, so was an illness known as the Russian Flu. Much like meningitis, this virus attacks the brain, eating wholes in it, taking away the victim's ability to speak, making them incapable of coordinated movements, turning their blood black...basically turning them into a zombie. Worse is that the virus is not spread through the air. Instead, it is spread through biting.
Tim would probably have traveled to Seattle anyway, if only to find out what happened to his family. But, unfortunately, Tim already knows. While watching the news, Tim witnessed a "drooler" neighbor - an electrician who did work in Tim's home - attack his wife while is toddler son was locked in his car seat inside their car. The news footage only showed what happened to Karen, but Tim could figure out the rest.
Now Tim is on a mission. Some might think it strange that Tim wants to avenge his death by finding the man who killed them, but these are strange times. Tim's mission is suicidal, driven by guilt, anguish and a strength he hadn't even known he had. But when Tim is captured by military personnel, will he be forced to give it all up after coming so close to his goal?
Okay, I'll admit it, the idea of a guy trying to take revenge on a zombie is a bit weird. I mean, if you know that the zombie's brain is like Swiss cheese, it is logical to assume that he had no clue what he was doing when he attacked Tim's wife. But as you read the story and understand that there is more motivating Tim than the actual murder of Karen, you'll begin to get it...at least a little bit.
Some might say that this is just another zombie book, but I beg to differ. The Russian Flu is something like the virus of The Stand meets Night of the Living Dead. This may be the first zombie book I ever read that makes a concerted attempt to look at the idea of becoming a zombie scientifically. This illness is not credited to a government conspiracy. It's just something like the bird flu or SARS that has actually crossed borders into the United States. I loved how the author described exactly what happens to the brain once the victim makes contact with the virus and that he even elaborated on the zombie's animal instinct behavior, perfectly explaining how Tim would be able to find the electrician that murdered his wife in the same spot the murder took place.
Another thing I enjoyed is that Wellington went classic zombie with this novel. Lately, I've been noticing that zombies are being granted more coordination, speed and intelligence. Hell, just recently I saw a movie in which zombies were driving motorcycles. I found that highly annoying. It only makes sense that when the brain dies, motor skills and intelligence would be effected. In classic zombie films, the zombies are slow, uncoordinated and motivated by the smell of food - in this case human flesh. Thank goodness David Wellington saw fit to keep with that format.
This book was an incredibly fast read and I loved the fact that the main character wasn't some pumped up ex-military, but a librarian with no formal military training whatsoever. It was nice to see an action hero created from an ordinary individual. The only thing that annoyed me about this book is the closer you got to the ending, the faster things moved, the more typos I found. Lots of books nowadays come with typos, owing to the trust writers have for the spell check on their computers and the amount of book proofreaders have to go through at a clip. That being said, I expect one or two in a novel, but as I said, the closer we got to the real gritty section of the novel, the more I found. It took something away from the flow of the reading.
That being said, I found Plague Zone to be a refreshingly different zombie tale. I'm always looking for something that makes a story about zombies new (I once reviewed a story about a zombie written in his point of view). This book was a fast and interesting read with a not-your-run-of-the-mill hero and a surprising twist at the end. Definitely worth checking out.