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Virus Thirteen

Posted by Vanessa On Tuesday, February 18, 2014

James and his wife Linda are scientists at the famous biotech company GeneFirm, where they've engineered a gene therapy that will eradicate cancer as we know it. But the world's population may not get the chance to enjoy a cancer-free future when a deadly supervirus outbreak becomes a world-wide pandemic.

Pat is paid a visit by agents of The Department of Homeland Health Care (HHC) to inform him that his BMI over 30 has qualified him for a mandatory "health retreat" where he will learn to curb his caloric intake as well as explore the benefits of regular exercise. The retreat ends up being as horrific as he expects; but the ray of light is the exotic co-ed Modest, who's inherited her mother's gene-manipulated pink hair and cat eyes.

Joshua Alan Parry starts VIRUS THIRTEEN at a sprint, and the story's pace ramps up as we're carried along as James tries to discover what's really going on, as Pat tries to survive the rigors of the retreat, as the HHC agents go about their job--all clear up to the explosive ending. But despite the pace, the "thriller" label, and the mere 310 page length, I took forever to read this book. Here's why:

I just didn't care.

Maybe it was the flat characters. James--even though he's the main character--wasn't more than a superficial supposedly brilliant scientist with a beautiful wife and smart kids. Pat was the fat guy who...wait, I'm not sure what his purpose was in this book other than to show how horrible the new government bureaucracy is. There's the HHC agents Mac and Marnoy who provide an odd sort of comic relief. There are various other characters we slip into the minds of. All shallow.

Maybe it was the omniscient PoV narrative that flitted between characters within the scene. At first it was okay, but the last couple of chapters caused a severe case of whiplash.  The prose was easy enough on the eyes, but the descriptions were clumsy, including the awkward cliched metaphors.

Maybe it was the simple plot and predictable ending. The science is interesting at a basic level, but it never really fleshes out beyond the idea. Not to mention the inconsistencies and flaws in the narrative (brain surgery but walking and having sex the next day; etc), so many things are left unexplained. Maybe I didn't care because it was all these things together that made this story forgettable.

Recommended Age: 15+
Language: Scattered throughout
Violence: Some blood and death, but not gruesome
Sex: Referenced and brief scenes

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