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Plague Year Mass Market Paperback – 27 Jul 2008
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About the Author
Jeff Carlson is the international bestselling author of the Plague Year trilogy and The Frozen Sky. His next novel is epic thriller Interrupt, coming July 2013 from 47North. To date, his work has been translated into fifteen languages worldwide.
Readers can find free excerpts, videos, contests, and more on his web site at jverse.com
Top customer reviews
The story centres around an outbreak of a nanotechnology 'plague' that was intended for medical use but is released from its lab into the general population. The nanobots are capable of reproducing inside all hot-blooded animals, consuming the host from within, inside of a few hours. As with most of these stories, a few people escape the plague, but in this case it is not due to usual excuse of natural immunity. The nanobots are unable to function below 70% of atmospheric pressure so the only survivors are those that managed to escape to altitudes about around 10,000 feet above sea level.
The story follows two main groups of survivors. The first group are living on a mountain in Colorado and have resorted to cannabalism in order to avoid running out of food. They are aware of a similar group living on a nearby peak and become aware that somebody is trying to contact them from that settlement. The second group of people are the astronauts aboard the International Space Station, including a nanotechnology expert who is trying to find a way to destroy the nanobots loose on the surface.
I won't go into any more detail as it will ruin the story, but I would recommend this book to anyone interested in sci-fiction, disaster or adventure stories. It reminded me of a cross between 'The Stand' by Stephen King and the story of the Andes plane crash, 'Alive'.
We learn that there has been a technology plague outbreak which has resulted in most of the world's population being dead. The released nanobots are capable of reproducing inside all hot-blooded animals, consuming the host from within, inside of a few hours. The nanobots are unable to function below 70% of atmospheric pressure so the only survivors are those that managed to escape to altitudes about around 10,000 feet above sea level.
We follow two small groups of survivors as we learn that one group are living on a mountain in Colorado and are rapidly running out of food and the second group of people are astronauts aboard the International Space Station, including a nanotechnology expert who is trying to find a way to destroy the nanobots on Earth.
I usually love post-apocalyptic stories but for some reason, this one really didn’t grab me. I struggled to emphasise or relate with any of the characters and I found it difficult to get interested in their individual plots. I found the characters flat and really quite uninteresting. I felt that the middle section of the book was really slow and the ending was abrupt and (I guess) left open for the next one.
I did enjoy the idea of the nano technology and the little difference that, rather than some ‘special people’ being immune from the effects, it was only ‘normal’ people that got up high enough, but that really wasn’t enough to keep me engaged in the story. It was not as good as some other books of this genre I have read and I was left disappointed.
Unfortunately, I didn't manage to emphasise with any of the characters and found it difficult to get interested in their individual plots. For example, I felt that Sawyer could have been more mysterious at the beginning, to pull you through to find out more. But I found his character quite flat and it wasn't until the middle of the story that he became more interesting.
By the end of the novel I felt that there was something missing. Whether it was lack of character development or the end that seems to just fizzle out, I'm not sure. But I look forward to seeing more Jeff Carlson nooks in the future as I think he has the potential to be great. I enjoyed the hard science and his viewpoint of how civilisation would collapse and be re-built, albeit in little pockets, was extremely thought-provoking.
Plague Year is a novel variant on the old plague survivor genre that unlike many such stories is actually believable. On the negative side, Carlson's addiction to short sentences can irritating some times and the political parts of the story don't really work.
The book is strongest when it deals with how people cope with the situation, and weakest when it moves into politics and conspiracies but overall is a good read.