The Rage Plague by Anthony Giangregorio

“They’re gaining on us!” Bill Thompson yelled, heavy footsteps chasing him down the hallway past school photos and paintings from the second grade, reminders of how normal the world had been only a few days ago.”

And so begins Anthony Giangregorio’s zombie tale, THE RAGE PLAGUE. The book hits the ground running and, just like the characters who move from one harrowing scene to the next, rarely gives the reader a chance to catch his breath before the final page is turned.

The story takes place in Chicago, Illinois, where a mysterious virus is spreading across the area. Most of the people who are exposed to it are instantly transformed into rage-filled zombies, while a small minority is immune to the disease. As the story opens, Bill Thompson and a small group of survivors are stuck inside a high school, desperately trying to stay one step ahead of a horde of zombies. What follows is a nonstop romp across Chicago and the neighboring areas as Bill and his group fight for their lives. While the zombies and their leader – a man who himself is infected with the virus, but has managed to retain part of his humanity – are the primary threat to the survivors, they must also steer clear of the military, which is attempting to capture “Normals” so they can find a cure to the disease (and their methods are quite a bit more invasive than a simple blood test).

The novel is straight-up survival horror. The characters aren’t motivated to track down loved ones or get back home to see if things are normal; they’re hauling ass and doing everything they can to live. Their reactions to situations are believable given the circumstances they find themselves in, playing off their strengths while covering others’ weaknesses. While breaks in the action are few-and-far between, Giangregorio uses those opportunities to provide a small amount of backstory on his characters. That being said, we really don’t learn too much….the pace is simply too break-neck throughout that characterization is almost an afterthought.

The book has a wide-open ending, so don’t expect much in terms of resolution; it’s definitely setup to continue the story with at least one sequel, and possibly more.

I had a great time with this book. The action is fast and furious, and the pages just flew by. I heartily recommend it (especially to the zombie fans out there), and give the book an 8 out of 10.

THE RAGE PLAGUE was released as a trade paperback by Permuted Press in January 2009 at the low price of $14.95. It looks like they’re currently offering a discount, bringing the price down to $12.10. If you’re in the mood for zombies, consider supporting the publisher and grabbing a copy…..I think you’ll dig it.

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