If I were to write a how-to novel, I’d title it “How to Ramp Up Your Anxiety During A Global Pandemic: A Definitive Guide”, I think I would start it with this list:
Watch World War Z.
Think about doom.
Read Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay.
Now I realize that this book was in the making LONGGGG before Covid19, but what is going on around the world makes this a particularly pertinent read. As soon as I read the first few pages, I was filled with an uneasy feeling. Thank goodness that is exactly one of the qualities I look for in a book.
The novel opens with a discussion of a new strain of rabies virus in Massachusetts; one that causes effects within an hour of being bitten. It causes the victim to become extremely violent and lose their mind.
Nat, who happens to be 9 months pregnant, is waiting for her husband to return from the grocery store with rations when they are both attacked upon his arrival. He is killed, and she is left with a nasty bite to her arm. With nowhere else to go, she calls her friend from college, a pediatric surgeon to help her. Ramola is tasked with trying to stop the virus from consuming her friend and trying to save the life of her unborn baby.
One of the things I liked the most about this book was that it was straightforward; Tremblay promised a zombie-rabies filled story and that is what he delivered. Do I wish there were a few more twists and turns? Maybe. Essentially, what is in the synopsis is what the story delivers. However, I felt like the story was well written enough that I constantly felt entertained. Almost like when I read the Wikipedia summary of a movie before I watch it; even though I knew what was coming, it didn’t stop me from enjoying it.
It is obvious to anyone who is familiar with his work that Tremblay is a master storyteller and within the first chapter, I found myself settled right into the story. Essentially, the perspective shifts back and forth between two kick-ass female protagonists, Nat and Ramola (Rams). This narration becomes key to the story and the development was what made this plot particularity interesting. As Rams become more panicked, Nat becomes more unravelled and Tremblay makes some smart narrative choices to make this clear.
I binged this one in a couple of hours; literally could not put it down. Absolutely recommended from me!
Thanks to the author and the publisher for a digital copy of this book to help me give an unbiased review.