Try to relax, but you’ll just keep leaning in to get closer, more of this, faster.
“Spiral” is a delivery system of everything fun and exciting about pop fiction. It’s a thriller with an old-school villain, a terrifying bio-weapon, wildly-believable pseudo-science, meticulously revised history, and a kickass prose-style.
I loved this. That’s not to say there’s anything revelatory about it… it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it certainly paints it differently than any of the other wheels rolling around out there, and I’ll buy that any day of the week.
The titular character of “Spiral” is a fungus, Fusarium spirale, weaponized by the Japanese during World War II, and kept secret until present day by a number of players on various sides of the debate: a scientist (our first of many heroes, Liam Connor!) who’ll fight you if you try to devise a cure, because whoever has the cure, has the weapon, and war is bad, mkay? (but secretly, he’s working on devising a cure)… an American politican, who wants to devise a cure, because whoever has the cure, has the weapon, and China is bad, mkay?… and the last Japanese Tokkō, whose mission to infect the entire American population and allow Japan to rise like a phoenix from the ashes was thwarted by Connor in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in 1946.
We’re introduced to a huge number of characters, but the strokes are broad enough and the narrative is thrilling. It’s also such a delightful read that I was happy to dismiss any potentially complicated thoughts about latent sexism, racism, traditional gender roles, blah blah blah… I didn’t worry my pretty little head about it, because what am I, an angry Chinese lady spy who responds to authority with undisciplined violence? Shhhhh…. just enjoy the book.