Book talk: Pandemic novels


This week, Jeff Popple reviews three virus and pandemic novels. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog:

The End Of October by Lawrence Wright

Bantam, $32.99

Lawrence Wright’s The End Of October is a scarily prescient novel about what happens when a deadly virus breaks loose. It starts at an internment camp in Indonesia with 47 people dying from a mysterious fever. Before well renowned microbiologist and epidemiologist Dr Henry Parsons can contain it, others are infected, including a pilgrim on the annual Haji to Mecca. Soon the virus goes global and Parsons must try to identify the real source of the virus and find a cure. Set against a backdrop of government plots and incompetence, and containing a wealth of fascinating detail, this is a gripping and timely read.

Lockdown by Peter May

Riverrun, $22.99

When Peter May wrote Lockdown back in 2005 at the height of the Bird Flu, publishers were quick to dismiss it as being unrealistic. Fast forward to 2020 and suddenly it is all too real and very publishable. It is set in a London beset by a global pandemic, which has already claimed tens of thousands of lives and left the city in lockdown. Amid the chaos, DI Jack MacNeil is trying to find the killer of a young girl, but it is an investigation which some powerful and dangerous people want stopped. A very dark and compelling thriller which holds attention from beginning to end.

The Andromeda Evolution by Daniel H. Wilson

Harper Collins, $32.99

The Andromeda Evolution has been out for a little while, but its themes have recently gained more currency. This sequel to Michael Crichton’s landmark, The Andromeda Strain, deals with the threat posed by the re-emergence of an extra-terrestrial microbe, 50 years after it first crashed to earth. A team of experts are sent to the middle of the Brazilian jungle to investigate the new discovery, which appears to be evolving. If they cannot stop it, the ramifications for the world will be catastrophic. It lacks some of the freshness of Crichton’s original, but is a very enjoyable adventure novel full of mystery and action.  

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