I love post-apocalyptic literature. Don’t know why, haven’t pulled at that thread, but it is my jaaam. My bread and butter. And other sandwich metaphors. So, I was predisposed to like this (cuz it’s my favorite genre) but also NOT like it, if it wasn’t well done. And it was so so well done. The day after I finished it, I bought it for someone else to read because I need them to read it so I can talk about it. I can’t stop thinking about this book, and recommending this book, and though it’s only February I’m confident it will be on my top five for the year.
So…let’s get this out of the way. This is about a flu, that starts in China, that kills everyone. So, um, pretty topical? That was bizarre, and I tried to (unsuccessfully) put it out of my head, plus this book is set in Chicago, where I live, so life imitating art imitating life. At one point they mention the suburban IKEA which is 7 minutes from where I live, so, the bizarro connections made this an interesting read for me, but Ma deserves all of the praise and accolades that have come her way.
She jumps from the present to “before the beginning” showing us how our protagonist, Candace Chen, has found herself in her present post-apocalyptic predicament. Candace has a hohum job as a Bible editor and a hohum life and finds herself still punching in the clock in the aftermath of “the end” in order to earn a sizable severance form her company. But why? For what? Flash forward to the present and she has joined up with a few other survivors headed to “the facility” which is a promised land of sorts, owned by their self-appointed leader. There are interesting rituals, and an adherence to look forward, not to the past, that has a singular-minded focus. But what happens if not everyone falls in line?
And I haven’t even covered “the fevered.” People die, eventually, from this sickness, but for long periods of time, they get stuck, like a hamster on a wheel, doing the most mundane repetitive tasks from their daily lives until they just…waste away, with no understanding of what they are doing and why they are doing it. There are some STARK scenes in this book, I would call it at times satirical horror, and I think it would make a fascinating movie or TV show that I would NEVERRRRR watch. Because I’m a proud scaredy cat.
This is a short choppy gripping read that will leave you with questions and marveling that the world is just ticking along, hohum, while you took this high octane journey. I like this book, I love Ma, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.