The content of the book is interesting, but the narration is so painfully boring that I'm about to delete the book and I'm not even one third of the way finished yet. If this man's voice were a drug, it would most definitely be Valium.
Do yourself a favor and buy this in paperback instead.
Alex, the protagonist, is an incredibly annoying know-it-all who tells people (rather than suggests) what actions they should take as if they were small children.
The "evil" to be battled in this story is hardly explained or examined, other than the most basic knowledge of how to treat it and whatnot. With a little research, the author could have made the illness a far more menacing presence.
The characters in the book simply accept that a dangerous pandemic is on the march, which we've seen from past disasters would not be the case with real human beings.
There would be many who dismissed warnings as scare tactics on the part of "Big Pharma" to sell them medicine, others who would drum up and believe their own conspiracies about the government, etc. People would still be denying there was a problem even as those around them became ill, just as they do when a hurricane has just begun the process of drowning their city and they still refuse to leave their homes.
We've not only seen these people; research using fMRI demonstrates that there are human beings who are neurologically hard-wired in a way that leaves them unable to accept what is right in front of their faces, in a way that causes them to deny reality no matter how much evidence is presented to them, and causes them to cling to beliefs any rational person would recognize as inaccurate.
The kids in the story don't go nuts and misbehave as any normal children would, even those who are usually very well behaved, while spending so much time constricted in their activities.
That the characters were so unrealistic after reading the glowing reviews was, unfortunately, the only thing about this book that wasn't predictable. Everything else was.
If you're looking for a macho fantasy about how you would save your family during a crisis and be a hero in your little neighborhood (at least in your own mind -- if you were as patronizing as Alex, nobody would want to hang out with you), you'll probably like this book.
If you're looking for a smart book in which the author doesn't ostensibly assume the reader is mentally deficient, provides a realistic idea of what it would be like to live through a crisis, you want to know the science and the details, etc. you'll want to skip this.
It's not the very worst book I've read (hence the two star rating), but it's not good either.
The author did a beautiful job of developing rich, layered characters and each had their own distinct personalities and voices; it's also clear from their actions, their vocabulary, and their mindsets that the author had also done her research on the era.
The author wove a brilliant story, as well. I don't want to give any details away, lest I ruin the surprises, of which there were many. Allow me to just put it this way: I rarely give five-star ratings, and I listen to a lot of audiobooks. In this case, I wish I could've given it more than five stars.
For his part, the narrator was by far the best I've heard for any audiobook. If I had my way, the narrator would do the voice work for every audiobook I listen to. He's absolutely excellent. His pronunciation was perfect, his accents were spot on, he always used a proper tempo for the mood of the story, and in general he just did an absolutely brilliant job. Can't say enough good things about his work.
As I said, I don't give praise easily. But in this case I can safely say that this book is absolutely worth the money and the time it takes to listen.
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