Tom Dardick with Chris Dardick PHD
Standalone or series
First time reading this author?
Why I picked this
I was interested in a scientific concept thriller.
Review copy or purchase
Thank you to the author, publishers Immortal Works and StoryOrigin for access to an advance ebook. This is an honest and voluntary review.
What it’s about
A patch of slightly off-coloured ground in Utah barely registers to the eye, but when a soldier from a nearby scientific military base strays onto it he quickly succumbs to a terrifying flesh consuming necrosis and the base is placed on high alert. Sudden Onset Necrotising Agent (SONA) is a never before known substance, and it is spreading fast.
Dr Mira Wallace is a dedicated microbiologist, and is not very happy when she is pulled out of investigations to find the microbe at the base of the tree of life, the one which might show how life first began, to help investigate what has happened in Utah. With SONA spreading fast, the race to stop it becomes Mira’s sole focus.
There are some fantastic characters in this book. I liked Mira in particular. She’s straight talking and prefers microbes to people, but manages that while still being an engaging character. Rain, one of the senior soldiers who witnessed the first death and now coordinates the safety protocols for everyone working on SONA, is great too. He’s very human, and seems to really see the individuals he works with. Gigi, Juan and Jeff as the assistants and students working with Mira help round out the sense of camaraderie and lighten the tension as time begins to run out to deal with SONA.
My only downside is the amount of scientific detail packed in. I like a little of the factual context to ground a story, but a novel with footnotes (as this has) is a bit too much for me, and if I hadn’t been sent a review copy to read I would have put this down without buying after spotting the footnotes in a bookshop browse.
The scientific notes, like excerpts from a report included within the main narrative, worked well and I’m not sure anything else is needed. I certainly didn’t read the footnotes and didn’t feel anything was missing, so I wouldn’t let that put you off. If you want more detail to back up your fiction reading, then it is there as an option.
Overall, a tense, well-paced thriller with a real sense of threat. Well worth a read.