Joshua Alan Parry
Tor, March 2013
Mass Market Paperback
From the publisher—
Scientists James Logan and his wife, Linda, have their dream careers at the world’s leading biotech company, GeneFirm, Inc. But their happiness is interrupted by a devastating bioterrorist attack: a deadly superflu that quickly becomes a global pandemic. The GeneFirm complex goes into lockdown and Linda’s research team is sent to high-security underground labs to develop a vaccine.
Above ground, James learns that GeneFirm security has been breached and Linda is in danger. To save her he must confront a desperate terrorist, armed government agents, and an invisible killer: Virus Thirteen.
Woe to the reader who starts Virus Thirteen thinking he’s going to get your standard pandemic disaster science fiction novel. No, indeed, this is one wild ride from start to finish with a mashup of all the scenarios that make a lot of people antsy just thinking about the possibilities. Take a bit of cloning, some global warming, a dash of power-grabbing, a little transgenics and genetic engineering, throw in some science run amok and you’ve got…
But wait! Don’t forget a whole lot of murder, a distinct lack of ethics and a Homeland Health department that watches your every bite or sip…
And there’s even more!
Besides all the plotlines—and don’t worry, they DO come together and make sense—there are some really interesting characters, good and bad. I was kind of surprised to find myself connecting the most with the secondary characters but that’s a large part of why I find this book so appealing. It’s an indication of how much care the author took with his players, even a neon orange dog and a self-doubting young man of rotund proportions, and I appreciate it.
This is one of the most entertaining and imaginative books I’ve read in a while and I’ll be honest—I’m still not sure if the author is completely serious or perhaps is making fun of all our insecurities about the future. I suspect there’s more than a touch of the latter but, either way, it doesn’t matter because Mr. Parry‘s debut is a winner of a story. He also happens to be a very good writer and his style of jumping from one scene and set of characters to another worked beautifully if his intention was to grab my attention and never let me look away. Along the way, he forced me to give a lot of consideration to where we might be heading if we’re not careful and that is never a bad thing. Joshua Alan Parry is an author I’ll be looking for again.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2013.