Author: Justin Cronin
Publisher: Orion Books, 2012
We are introduced to a large cast of characters on both side of the human and viral line. The latter are all in some way related to strains descended from the menacing and enigmatic Zero, who appears to have complete world domination at the top of his list of priorities.
Yet not all the infected are of the same mind. The mysterious girl Amy has her own agenda as she marshals her meagre forces against great odds. We get to know Peter, a soldier; Sara, a survivor in concentration camp conditions; and Alicia, who battles daily with viral infection that threatens to overwhelm her human side, who are but a few of the fascinating characters readers encounter, many of whom are prepared to die for their cause.
Cronin blends the horrors of Nazi-style death camps with present-day terrorist tactics, to create a dystopia that is drenched in blood and fuelled by incredible cruelty – so if graphic scenes of violence upset you, then this is probably not the book for you.
It’s clear that Cronin has put a great deal of thought into his world building, and it shows, because his writing is vivid and tactile. That being said, to his detriment, his having to divide his attention between so many characters often makes it a little tricky to keep track of everything and everyone, and some of the outcomes felt a bit by the by once I reached the conclusion.
The pacing, however, is relentless, and Cronin never lets his readers get too comfortable; there certainly are more than enough explosions to shake things up.