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Plague Year Paperback – June 27, 2015
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From Publishers Weekly
This tiresome sci-fi thriller debut, set in postapocalyptic California, has an ingenious kickoff that unfortunately goes nowhere fast. Following the accidental release of a deadly nanotechnology (designed to fight cancer), much of the world's population is dead; in the California Sierras, above the plague's high-water mark (10,000 feet), Cameron Najarro, Albert Sawyers and their small group of survivors eke out a desperate living, turning to cannibalism for survival. Meanwhile, in the International Space Station Dr. Ruth Ann Goldman and her team are making progress on a vaccine. Things go bad quickly when Goldman and her team return to Earth to test a hypothesis: first, they crash land in the middle of a civil war, then they find that the military has its own plans for the vaccine. When the astronauts and mountain survivors finally meet up, Goldman is surprised to find valuable allies in Sawyers and Najarro, and the three set off with a few others to find a lost lab that may hold the key to stopping the nano menace. The timely idea may hold readers' interest, but only so far as their patience allows; though well-written, the heroes' lengthy journeys slow the story to a pace almost as tormenting as organ-liquefying micro-machines. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-RT Book Reviews
"An epic of apocalyptic fiction: harrowing, heartfelt and rock-hard realistic."
-James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The 6th Extinction
"Deft and compelling, full of high-altitude chills."
-E.E. Knight, national bestselling author of the Vampire Earth series
"Part Michael Crichton, a little Stephen King, and a lot of good writing... Carlson makes it all plausible and thrilling. "
-Quiet Earth (quietearth.us)
"Tightly written and well-told."
-Robert Charles Wilson, Hugo Award-winning author of Spin
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Top customer reviews
Plague Year presents us with an interesting twist on the apocalypse. Carlson finds that touchstone that is common to all apocalypse survival stories: how even facing the end of the world (as we know it) humans still find ways to be @#(*$^ to one another. The science and geopolitical research that went into this book keep it realistic but don’t bog it down. The story races along intelligently which is a treat, especially to those of us who devour sci-fi in all its forms. It’s nice to read something that doesn't mire you in scientific sludge yet recognizes the reader is intelligent and appreciates well-researched action.
An interesting and well executed premise is let down by the unrelenting dreary and selfish actions of the characters. Unlikable characters can be just as fun, if not more, to read about as likeable ones. But they have to have something going for them; wit, charisma, intelligence... Hell, in a pinch I'd settle for at least attractive. But all the characters here are just selfish in a petty, everyday kind of way. Thet are not interesting to read about, and each new low they reach is just draining, and not in a good way.
I'm sure having almost the entire human race wiped out by a rogue nano bot plague would bring out the very worst in some people, but I refuse to believe that others wouldn't also rise to the challenge of survival. Carlson's cast lacks balance, the only vaguely likeable characters are the ones who have had it relatively easy in the face of the plague. The message seems to be that faced with serious hardships they to would be just like their paranoid, dishonest and unpleasant cast mates. The plot is not bad, and it keeps the book readable, but I have no desire to slog through another book in the heads of these people.
Despite the dark beginning, Carlson does a pretty good job of portraying the two main characters, Cam, a ski instructor in California, and Ruth, a scientist on the International Space Station. The first half of the story talks about each of them in turn as they struggle with various aspects of the plague. But it's when they finally come together, via a man Cam finds who claims to have been involved in the development of the nanobots, that the story really takes off. At the beginning of the book, I wasn't sure if I wanted to finish it. At the end of the book, I wasn't sure if I wanted it to stop.
Plague Year is the first story in a three-part series. I have several other books I plan on reading in the next few months. But I am seriously considering coming back for more to find out what happens.