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, April 27, 2011 By Harold & Diane Miller (Plymouth, MN United States) Yes, there are aspects of classic post apocalyptic tales alluded to but the story is the key; it's just a pleasure to read. The characters are good, the conflict is creative (especially in a genre that has a tendency to be staid) and the literary constructs are very well done. I particularly liked the fair bit of social commentary that the author manages to sneak in around the corners through various methods. This is done artfully and with such direct association to the story that the reader will never feel burdened by an agenda--simply a stating of the cause and effect phenomenon as played out in the tragic landscape that is Plaguesville, USA and the necessary steps the denizens of this world must take to survive and still retain some aspect of what it means to be human. Many, many levels are offered to the reader and you may take your pick on how you wish to enjoy this really good tale. 5.0 out of 5 stars Best apocalyptic novel I've read in ages..., April 17, 2011 By Ellie (Seattle, WA) Imagine the world of Fallout mixed with Doomsday and Mad Max. Just the right amount of violence and intrigue. Add in some well crafted characters. A dash of horror. This recipe adds up to one magnificent apocalyptic novel...Plaguesville, USA, by Jim Lavigne. This is an independent novel, but do not let that deter you from getting it. Unlike other indie works this one is understandable, has logical plot flow, and barely any typos or grammatical issues. The writing can be wordy at times, but it doesn't take away from the story. 4.0 out of 5 stars The Wizard of Mad Max, April 16, 2011 By Felicia A. Tiller (Washington, D.C.) Pretty well done, and ends will with proper, though sad, closure, and has a short 1 year later epilogue to wrap up. This is done very well. It's kind of Mad Max-ish in places, particulary when they are on the road traveling. But this book is really much more like The Wizard of Oz with murder, mayhem and plague added. The characters are decent and likeable and though there are a lot of them, there are not too many. There are LOTS of subplots and storylines going on, all well connected and, even though there is A LOT going on, it's done well. The basic story is that the plague, or the Sick as they call it, that wiped out millions of people in the year 2065 or something like that is making a mutated comeback. Doctors and scientists at the CDC realize that there is no way to create a vaccine unless they have antibodies from the blood of someone who contracted and lived through the original strain. Dr. Justin Kaes and a team from the CDC in Atlanta has been tasked with traveling to Minnesota to locate (even though it's a long shot that he is still alive) Mr. Howard Lampert, 102, and deliver him to doctors in San Francisco. They do find the cantankerous old coot, collect him, and thus ensues a ridiculous set of travels and experiences for many, many pages where they keep getting captured, almost killed and then either escape or get rescued. I liked it very much. There is murder, monsters and meanness, and even a little blood and guts and gore. Really good story. 4.0 out of 5 stars
Finally, NO Zombies!, April 14, 2011 By SkySoxWiz "Columbine Native" (Pikes Peak) While I thoroughly enjoyed World War Z I'm about burned out on Zombie books. The Post Apocalyptic novel is reminsicent of "The Road" and "Lights Out". It's lengthy and in some places, it drags. The characters seem realistic and I came to like two of them---Teresa and the old man. I found very few proof reading errors which is rare in these bargain basement first time thriller novels. The author never tries to explain how the plague came about nor does he seem to revel in extended plague descriptions. The journey (modeled after several other famous ones which I won't spoil here) is the story and the characters make the travel interesting and worthwhile. It'll never qualify as great literature but for the price it's a great adventure to hunker down with. 5.0 out of 5 stars Great story!, April 12, 2011 By J Lingle What a great story! I loved the characters and I was really sad when the book ended. I hope there's a sequel to this book! 5.0 out of 5 stars What a great find., March 5, 2011 By Rosie Fantastic read..... I am so happy I found this book on my kindle. This story has it all. It had me reading well into the night. This book has everything you want In a great PA novel. I'm going to remember this one for a long time to come. Interview by E. J. Knapp The name Jim LaVigne will be known by all who are fans of the apocalypse or horror. Perhaps, some day, anyone who likes the genre of fiction will come to know his name. I say this with confidence because Jim is going to be huge some day. He will be as big as Max Brooks or J.L. Bourne. You will come to know him! I had the opportunity to interview him about his book Plaguesville, USA…which, by the way, you should buy asap while you can! Glorious works like these don’t stay 99 cents forever. Enjoy this short interview and get to know the up and coming Mr. LaVigne! Disclaimer: We all love those shambling, rotting corpses known as the walking dead, but there are none in Plaguesville. However, this book is far too good not to praise. Q. First I’d like to ask what your influences were. While reading I was reminded of movies like Mad Max and videogames such as Fallout. Did this world come out of nowhere or did you have any external influences? A. Oh, definite influences. Fallout 3 was inspiring, not so much for the destruction as for the survivor’s nostalgia and all of the little scraps of a once-great civilization you find laying around. And Teresa’s clan is certainly akin to the Road Warriors of George Miller; those are a couple of great movies and, to me anyway, they aren’t at all farfetched in terms of what folks might do in those kinds of degraded conditions. I also watched a series on History Channel called Life After People that was pretty neat and which gave me a lot of the nuts and bolts about what would happen when humans were gone and real neglect and decay set in. I tried to be as true to what the experts thought would (will?) happen and all of the stuff in the book about massive destruction due to chemical/nuclear leaks, dam breaks, and such are as realistic as I could research. Needless to say, there aren’t a lot of sources for this. On the lighter side, you will also find a good dose of Futurama in there, especially in the chapter quotes for things like Krillo Dogs or Burger Czar. Something about the little touches like Gragnar’s Human Rinds, Soylent Cola, or
Bachelor Chow in that show just make me smile. Q. Has the apocalypse always been a point of interest, or was there a pivotal moment in your life when it gained a spot in your heart? A. I think there was a point, actually, come to think of it… When I was in college I spent a long weekend at a friend’s dorm at St Cloud State University. We got bored and broke into an old Civil Defense shelter in the basement and went in and poked around and man! Was that place creepy! They had everything you’d need, down in this windowless, claustrophobic vault. Food, water, chemical toilets, loads and loads of iodine pills and blankets, whole surgical setups, you name it, all boxed up and stamped with official seals and ready to use. When the nukes started flyin’ you’d just run down there and everything would be just fine… I think that might have sparked some ideas. Beyond that, the apocalypse, where everything’s up for grabs, makes a great setting in general and allows the writer a lot more freedom to imagine and speculate than a setting in the past or present. In other words, you get to make it whatever you want. Q. Is Plaguesville entirely independent? In other words, did you have any financial or promotional backing (such as a publisher)? A. Yes, it’s entirely indie. But thanks to the ease with which authors can e-publish, it wasn’t all that difficult. The really hard part is generating buzz; I’m not a terribly outgoing or extroverted individual and have always had a hard time with self-promotion. I understand that readers like to know more about authors (as in: holy crap, what kinda weirdo could write something like this?), but at he same time I feel like I’d rather the work spoke for itself. I also have to say that without the support of a few crucial people in my life I would never have even had the chance; it’s due in no small part to their support that any of my work was produced. You know who you are… Q. I find your characters very well developed. Each has their own distinguishing quirks and mannerisms that make them likeable/irritating/or easy to hate. Does creating individuals come naturally to you or is it an ability you’ve had to hone over time? A. Practice, practice… But I guess that’s it part both. I’ve always like simply observing the people around me; what makes them what they are and the things they do and say, not to mention why they do and say them… They’re a constantly ready source of inspiration. On the other hand, I think it takes a kind of diligence with each one, sort of gently reminding the reader of each one’s eccentricities, and then consistency–how would this guy realistically react to this situation–to make the character live. Also, I think each character needs to grow or at least change over the course of the story. Mr. Lampert has a line toward the end of Plaguesville to the effect that he and Dr. Kaes haven’t changed, but as he often is, the Old Man is dead wrong. They’ve both changed, and to no small extent. Q. What got you into writing? Is it a side hobby or something you want to pursue as a career? A. In my case, to not mince words, I’d have to say it’s an issue of mental health; if not for writing, I would very likely be committed, incarcerated, or dead. Other than that, I’ve always liked telling stories and I’ve always loved books. All my heroes are writers. Q. This is a zombie blog, so it’s mandatory I ask you some undead related questions. Since your book doesn’t have zombies, my first question is… do you even like zombies? A. Sure, who doesn’t? I do have mutants, of course, but that’s not at all the same… Actually, I think zombies are a fascinating sociological/cultural phenomenon. Some clever psychologist should undertake a study of it–or maybe they are! At any rate, I do like zombies, especially zombie movies. My dad took me to see the original Night of the Living Dead when I was about ten and man, did that scare the bejeesus out of me! The images of the chalk-faced undead ripping out guts and chewing on arms… Yeesh, nobody wants that to happen to them! Quick, get a gun! Run for the shelter! And today we have really good-looking, realistic films like the remake of Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later, plus
the less hardcore (but still entertaining) ones like Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead. I haven’t yet had the time to delve too deeply into the explosion of Zombie Fiction, but from what I’ve seen, I have a lot of catching up to do, because there’s a lot of good stuff being written! In short: Yes, pro-zombie. Q. What was your editing process like? Did you seek out an editor or did you have other people read over it first? A. I’ve yet to work with an editor, but given my tendency toward wordiness, I think doing so would be great. Mainly I just read (and re-read and re-re-read) what I’ve got and make cuts, additions, and corrections as needed. I rely on my wife, Katy, for all of the proofing and most of the plot continuity. Q. And your writing process? Did you outline at all or just write from start to finish for the most part? A. Some of both. The “road” scenes kind of wrote themselves. But with as many characters and storylines as I found myself managing, I had to stop once in a while to make sure that all of the dots were going to connect. But in the end, all roads led to New America, so that made the issue a little easier… I always knew how the thing would end; as soon as I’d conceived of Dr. Kaes, I knew what would become of him. But exactly how, you know? In that way, I guess the process was a little like the story itself: I knew where I had to go, but there was a great big expanse of unknown to cross to get there. Q. Is seeking a publisher something you’d consider doing, or are you comfortable with being an indie author? A. To paraphrase Teresa from the book, a published version would be just juicy! Even if the words themselves are the same, I think every author wants to see a physical copy. Just something about it. Not to mention sales! I would love to see Plaguesville as a nice trade paperback, maybe even a deluxe edition some day with maps and who knows what, but ultimately I think it would be really neat as a movie. I mean, think of the casting alone?! Who’d play Lampert? Or Baron Zero? Heh heh… Q. Are any of your other books apocalyptic? In other words, would any of your other books be good for the apocalypse-loving demographic? A. Yes, definitely. In at least two others there are forces at work trying to bring on the apocalypse. In Apokryphos, an ageless cult makes human sacrifice and schemes for world domination, and in Bearwood (Or, the Business of Screwing Around with Things Best Left Alone), an evil entity of Lovecraftian nature threatens to wipe out all life on Earth. Both are less dialogue-heavy than Plaguesville, but similar in style and pacing. Always something out there trying to bring on the Fall… Do check out Jim’s works on Amazon. He has a handful of novels that are also 99 cents. Review by Zomblog Imagine the world of Fallout mixed with Doomsday and Mad Max. Just the right amount of violence and intrigue. Add in some well crafted characters. A dash of horror. This recipe boils down to one magnificent apocalyptic novel…Plaguesville, USA, by Jim LaVigne. When I first downloaded the sample of Plaguesville, USA I had high hopes and realistic expectations, as I usually do with 99 cent novels by indie authors. After I read the captivating, albeit wordy, prologue and most of chapter 1, I knew I’d found something worth reading. I’m not exaggerating when I say this novel is one of the best post apocalyptic tales I’ve ever read. Instead of rehashing the description of the novel, let me tell you where it was successful. LaVigne took on the task of creating many subplots and characters and merging them together by the end. He succeeded in doing this; so while you’re reading and you wonder where in the world certain characters will come into play, don’t worry! He has a plan for everyone and everything. Next, he flawlessly put all of our favorite aspects of the apocalypse together. Cannibalism, renegade gangs, infection, mutation, and survival are just a few. LaVigne makes you become a part of
the world in his novel by adding in small details such as futuristic advertisement blips in the beginning of each chapter. The small nuances he adds—descriptions here and there—really make you feel what Plaguesville, USA is like. As we all know, sometimes indie works are hard to get through. Often we have to chew too many times on a sentence to get it down, or stop reading a story all together from lack of structure or unbearable characters. Lucky for us, LaVigne doesn’t make us go through that. From the worldly environment to the nuances of a post apocalyptic world, Plaguesville did not disappoint me. Though his phrasing was easily digestible, some areas of the novel could’ve been trimmed down. Be ready for certain areas of the book to be longer than necessary. On the topic of grammar and syntax—an area indie authors fail in frequently—you don’t need to worry about it with Plaguesville. I’m not an expert on this stuff, but while reading I was rarely hung up on phrasing or struck dumb by misused and repeated words. You won’t be distracted by the writing itself. Considering LaVigne didn’t work with an editor on this book, that’s a great achievement. Plaguesville, USA is pure gold. There isn’t a single zombie in this thing, but it’s too good not to write about and promote. Go to Amazon and download a sample if you’re unsure. Hopefully you’ll get hooked like I did.
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