Thursday, September 18, 2014

Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment (Plagued States of America, #1) by Better Hero Army

This review was written by: B and C
Received: Free paperback from the author
Publication Date of Book: September 2013
Pages: 162
Stars: (5/5)

"I have your file, your picture. I know you like pictures.  I'll tell your parents about you if I ever get out of here.  In the meantime, just remember your name is Penelope Hope, and hope is a good thing."

A young man by the name of Tom travels to the Plagued States of America, one of his few and only hopes that may lead to him finding his little sister Larissa. Years ago, when the zombie wave first hit, his younger sibling was ripped away from him.  Larissa was unexpectedly bitten when Tom was supposed to be protecting her, an incident that he could never forget even if he tried.  It is here in the Plagued States of America, particularly the area known as Biter Hill, where our troubled protagonist must search high and low twice a year for a hope that may never come to fruition.  Biter Hill is where many individuals come to trade zombies that they've recently acquired and gander at the spectacles surrounding them, but only the zombie hunters are crazy enough to go near flesh eating, mindless humans.  Even while the zombies seem harmless, you should never get too close to them.  Used as slaves by modern day humanity, people are willing to use them despite the dangers.  These ferocious beasts are kept in a prison at night, moaning until dawn.  Placed and corralled like cattle, they are fenced in, never allowed to leave a heavily guarded area.

Tom must look through the record books located at this zombie outpost.  Perhaps he will see if his sister was brought here and finally fulfill his father's demands, or maybe something unexpectedly horrible will happen instead.  When Tom meets Penelope, a half human/half zombie hybrid, he is naturally curious.  Half-breeds are rare and a true site to see.  While she appears distant and detached from the rest of the world, she's as fast as lightning and surprisingly intelligent.  Her features are more human than zombie, and you could never tell her true nature unless you looked at her glazed eyes.  Locked in a cage, she avoids Tom and rarely shows emotion.  Despite Penelope's current feelings, Tom becomes seemingly more and more intrigued with her situation and her former self prior to this current zombie status.  When Penelope catches a glimpse of a picture with Larissa on it, Tom knows that she is his only hope of finding her, no matter the outposts and their logs.

Suddenly, as he is trying to depart back to his home, a horrible outbreak occurs.  Zombies are getting out, running rampant, feeding off of every human that they can find, craving their flesh.  So many perish.  Zombie hunters, while many are present, are no match for the numerable waves of zombies that just keep flowing out of the prison, and only a few uninfected civilians make it out of this ordeal alive, including Tom.  A group of zombie hunters picked him up out of the chaos along with several other men and women.  They are led by Peske, the owner of the half-breed Penelope who is still under his thumb.  Together, this group must make it out alive through the zombie ridden wasteland if they ever hope to make it safety.  Tom promised Peske that if he got them to a certain point, he would call his father, a powerful Senator, who would have the power to help them receive a rescue team to fly them out of trouble.  However, he was only willing to do this if Peske allowed him to borrow Penelope so that he could find his younger sister while they were waiting for assistance.

In this day and age, zombie books are pumped out so often that the subject occasionally turns monotonous and feels so overused that the ideas are recycled time and time again.  However, Plagued:The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment was an amazing and refreshing zombie novel that all die hard lovers of the shuffling dead genre have to check out!  The idea of half human/half zombie individuals was brilliantly executed!  The mystery behind this subject unfolded quite well, and the answer to this secret was definitely unexpected.  It was interesting to see how Better Hero Army created and breathed new life into a zombie world that had yet to be portrayed.  While so many other stories in this genre are filled with nothing but chaos, his had a structure to it that involved several types of zombies.  There were the half-breeds, a rare and fascinating topic to read about where we slowly discover their true nature during the book's entirety.  Then we have the zombies who are selected and sold as slaves.  These individuals are temporary disabled and, in a sense, operated upon, so that they cannot infect others with their contagious bite.  Finally, we get to see the wild zombies that roam the land in search of meat to satisfy their insatiable hunger, and not only are there adult zombies but children are included in this group as well.  Perhaps the children are just as compelling to read about as the half-breeds are.  We don't want to spoil too much about the story so we'll just say that they don't kill for themselves and never age.    

There are so many aspects to this book that we thoroughly enjoyed.  One of these includes how different the zombie hunters were portrayed compared to the everyday civilians.  These two groups kept butting heads and definitely added a rich aspect to the book.

"How the hell do you guys do this for a living?" Tyler asked.
"Hunting zombies?  It's easy.  No different than lions going into a herd of horned caribou.  Any one of them could gore  them lions, and the lions know it!  But that don't stop them.  It's when you start thinking like you're going to die, like you're prey.  That's when you get yourself killed."-Peske

As many have undoubtedly read, multiple zombie books have cataclysmic repercussions after the zombie apocalypse.  Such worlds are often filled with lawless nations with gun-toting generic characters.  However, Better Hero Army has interestingly enough constructed a zombie after effect that possesses a mostly high functioning human society that has learned to control the zombie outbreak, instead of letting it rule their lives.  Zombies, while dangerous, also provide jobs for a large range of individuals who are willing to expose themselves to the danger that zombie hunting harbors.  A cure is now on the way, but how they are figuring out the means to the end is part of the government's many dirty little secrets.

If you are looking for a survival book, this is a possible option for you.  We loved the descriptions contained in Plagued.  For example, fireflies coated the scenery beyond the main scene.  While many saw glowing insects, these glowing lights were really the eyes of the walking dead, slowly advancing on the group hoping to catch a meal.  Can you imagine the chills after reading that?

Overall, there are so many things to love in Better Hero Army's first installment in the Plagued States of America series to possibly write about.  The journey to find Tom's sister and the guilt ridden conscious that he endured throughout this novel was a story worth telling.  The ending was a shocker to us.  It was not what we were expecting.  It was both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time.  How is this possible?  Read Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment and discover the answer for yourself!

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