Sunday, May 10, 2015

Plagued: The Ironville Zombie Quarantine Retraction Experiment (Plagued States of America, #3) by Better Hero Army

22920013This review was written by: B and C
Received: Copy from the Author
Publication Date of Book: October 2014
Pages: 300 (Kindle Edition)
Stars: 5/5

"Of course," the doctor replied, offering an awkward smirk in his direction.  "Even zombies are still human, right?"
-Dr. O'Farrell

Tom and Penelope have been trying to get their lives back on track ever since they came out of Biter Territory alive without Larissa, Tom's infected sister, not too long ago.  Moving on is a little harder than expected, though.  In fact, it is practically impossible to do in a world infested with zombies and overwhelming memories mixed with unanswerable questions.  Then Tom's father, a powerful man in the government, decides to take a trip into the Quarantine Zone on a mission of his own.  He takes a crew with him that includes the mysterious and deadly Dr. Kennedy.  However, the Senator's helicopter unexpectedly goes down, crashing into the dangerous, zombie infested territory.  Tom can't let his father die in that forsaken place and makes up his mind to go after him.  Tom will definitely need help and he knows just the guys to ask if he wants to make it back home alive.

Hank (a previous companion of Tom's from the time he spent in the Plagued States of America), Mason (an extremely wanted, high-trained soldier), Dr. O'Farrell (an intelligent and inquisitive scientist), Houston (the guy with the train who can take the crew where they want to go), and Penelope (a half-breed who is Tom's closest companion) all head off into the most dangerous mission of their entire lives thus far.  Each and every single person mentioned has their own motives for taking up the task, but they agree to work together for a single cause.  Making the treacherous journey on board Houston's train, it becomes frighteningly clear that not only do Tom and Penelope have to deal with trying to keep safe from the zombies outside, but now they have to worry about Houston's own zombies that are housed within the train cars.  Of course, it is also imperative that no one finds out about Penelope's true nature of being a half-breed.  Tom has assisted her with assimilating back into civilization the best that he could, but that does not mean that she is safe.  Who knows how people might react to her if they found out what she really was?  Dr. O'Farrell seems to be getting too close to the truth for the two's comfort, but being in such close proximity to one another has the opposite effect of keeping secrets hidden.

The truth is, Senator Jefferson wants to wipe out the infected in the Plagued States of America.  So, why did he risk his life to go there if he just wanted to eradicate the entire population?  What is he planning to do?  What is Dr. Kennedy up to anyway?  Her presence is bound to mean even more trouble.  Will Penelope be found out by those surrounding her?  Will she ever be cured, her utmost desire?  Once Tom's gang arrives on enemy ground, they discover even more pressing matters.  Are the half-breeds becoming smarter, more alert?  Will everyone make it out alive from this entire ordeal?  Are zombies more human than we would like to admit?  Who will live and who will die?  Read, Plagued: The Ironville Zombie Quarantine Retraction Experiment to find out!

Elated moaning and groaning from the zombie horde rose above the snaps and creaks of glass, their calls announcing to one another that sanctuary was at hand.  Their calls became frenzied as they pushed against the faltering glass.  Penelope recognized a few calls as something more insidious -- hunger, and the sight of prey.

Our thoughts:
Better Hero Army easily surpassed all of our expectations in his third installment to the Plagued States of America series!  Everything in this novel was bigger and better, ultimately making this the best book in the collection thus far.  It was amazing to get to witness so many of the wonderful characters from The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment and The Rock Island Zombie Counteractant Experiment come together into one story.  Their interactions, struggles, predicaments, dreams, hopes, and faults were equally addicting to delve into.  Not a single dull moment passed within these pages.

It seems almost impossible for us to touch on all of the wonderful aspects that we were naturally drawn to in this book, but we'll start with the idea of zombies and their humanity.  Portions of The Ironville Zombie Quarantine Retraction Experiment focused on the question: Are zombies still human?  Yes, they lost themselves to the instincts of a rabid animal, but who has the power to dictate who is still a person and who is not?  Is it okay to treat them as if they are vermin, slaves, or even lab experiments?  Penelope is a half-breed but she still cares and feels emotions just like everybody else.  Sure, she's still relearning about her surroundings but she is not evil.  She is intelligent, which brings us to our next point.  The half-breeds have proven themselves to be quite a smart and more quick-witted bunch than was previously believed, and this idea made the story even more terrifying.

Going up against an enemy that, while slow, is plentiful in numbers, persistent, and able to use weapons and deception against you when you thought they were only mindless creatures, is exceptionally terrifying.  There was this one particular scene that included a half-breed coming up to the  structure where Tom and everyone else were hiding and the creature was banging against the glass with a creepy, smiling expression on its face.  Chills literally ran down our spines.

Experiencing this story through Penelope's point of view was definitely intriguing and special and sets this book apart from the rest of them.  She is such a unique, distinctive individual, and this all leads to the fact that looking through her eyes was like looking at an entirely new world.  Knowing what was going on in her head added an entirely new perspective to this series that complemented the other books yet elevated this one to a whole new level.  It allows the reader to understand a partial history of some of the first zombie experiments and what it is like to be stuck in a life that you didn't choose.

Overall, Better Hero Army outdid himself and wowed us yet again!  In fact, he absolutely blew us out of the water!!!  His writing style and plot lines have evolved to become more in depth and intricate, bringing the zombie atmosphere into a whole new playing field.  The stakes have been raised yet again, the mystery deepened, and the terror and thrills have heightened!  We highly recommend this series.  It has never let us down.  You seriously need to go pick up the books right now!

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