Published: 1 December 2006 by Permuted Press
Pages: 299 (paperback)
Genre/s: Zombie, Post-Apocalyptic
Source: Own library
The end begins with a viral outbreak unlike anything mankind has ever encountered before. The infected are subject to delirium, fever, a dramatic increase in violent behavior, and a one-hundred percent mortality rate. Death. But it doesn't end there. The victims return from death to walk the earth. When a massive military operation fails to contain the plague of the living dead it escalates into a global pandemic. In one fell swoop, the necessities of life become much more basic. Gone are petty everyday concerns. Gone are the amenities of civilized life. Yet a single law of nature remains: Live, or die. Kill, or be killed. On one side of the world, a battle-hardened General surveys the remnants of his command: a young medic, a veteran photographer, a brash Private, and dozens of refugees, all are his responsibility-all thousands of miles from home. Back in the United States, an Army Colonel discovers the darker side of Morningstar virus and begins to collaborate with a well-known journalist to leak the information to the public... The Morningstar Saga has begun.
I've said before that Jonathan Maberry is responsible for my zombie obsession, but what I don't think I have spoken about before is that Z.A. Recht's The Morningstar Strain series cemented my love for the undead. As soon as I had finished Maberry's Patient Zero, I went on a hunt for another zombie book, and the first one that I picked up was Plague of the Dead, way back in 2009. In preparation of reading the final book in the series, I decided to go back and read the first two books again, even though re-reading makes me nervous as hell.
Published before every author and his dog had a stab at writing a zombie book, Plague of the Dead captures every single thing about zombie books that I love - it starts with a bang and doesn't let up all the way through.
The plot itself is fairly straightforward, but what I love about this series is the amount of time put into building a plausible cause for the virus - and the fact there are two types of zombies - the carriers who transmit the virus without mercy and the true zombies - those that have died from the virus and re-animated, making for double danger and some pretty gruesome scenes.
There is a huge amount of focus on the collapse of the world - rather than just everything falling apart within a matter of days, the path of the virus is more closely tracked and explained, and although it is a gradual fall, the pace escalates along with the impact.
There are a bunch of varied characters, mostly focused around the military, but some civilians and medicos thrown in for good measure, and in Plague of the Dead, a lot of focus is put on the key characters and all of them are individual and realistic. One thing that I particularly enjoyed is that characters make mistakes that had me almost yelling at the book - all too often in apocalyptic stories the characters are either faultless or just plain stupid, whereas in Plague of the Dead the mistakes they make are driven by emotions which makes them very realistic.
I'm very glad I went back and read Plague of the Dead again - I was worried that time had put this book on a pedestal, but it was just as scary, intense and captivating as I remembered it to be - a book that should be a zombie classic.