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Friends, this book absolutely blew me away. Contagion was one of my most anticipated releases and one that surpassed my expectations completely. This is hands-down one of my favorite reads of 2018.
Fun fact: when I was in the eighth grade I borrowed my grandmother’s copy of The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston and decided that I wanted to be a microbiologist so I could work with contagious hot diseases for the CDC. That book sparked an intellectual curiosity in me for science that has never wavered (I almost got my Associate’s Degree in Microbio before switching to Anthropology three-quarters of the way through). The science and infectious disease aspects of this book really spoke to me, beyond being an amazing piece of science fiction and horror. (Because yes, this book is terrifying and I am glad I didn’t read it at night.)
It got in us and most are dead.
Decklan flew for help.
Don’t trust the kid.
Fast-paced and instantly engaging, Contagion is one of the best examples of atmospheric writing that I have encountered in the horror and science fiction arena, which adds to the reading experience as I was fully immersed in the world that Bowman carefully crafted.
Each of the characters are flawed and complex, with pasts that dictate their present behavior in understandable ways (if not frustrating… my reading experience was akin to screaming “behind you!” when watching horror movies). Each character experiences growth and development, even secondary characters, and while I would definitely characterize this as a plot-driven story the reader is just as invested in the characters and their plight.
“Follow the bloody footprints, they said. What could go wrong, they said.”
The worldbuilding beyond the contained environment that the book is set within is done organically, bit by bit as it served to bring the larger narrative and framework for the series into focus but never felt like an info dump. Underlying the horror that the Odyssey’s crew encounters while embarking on their response to a distress signal on Achlys is also a complex social and political structure. Unveiled slowly and organically within the narrative, we learn that there are rebels that want to secede from the United Planetary Coalition. Was this secret drilling endeavor part of a plan to leave the union? Or a way to strengthen it? The character’s discussions and varying opinions about this sounded very similar to Brexit debates and I cannot wait to see what happens next in this universe.
An inky blackness that swam and twisted and curled like ribbons.
This book is incredibly well written and beautiful in its horror; the atmospheric writing having me on the edge of my seat for about five hours straight as I devoured the words in search of what would happen next. Mistrust and fear permeate off of the characters and carried off of the page onto me and I cared for each of their well-being. (Even Dylan, whose actions frustrated me.)
I cannot wait for the second book in this series and for the rest of the world to be able to read this book! I never found myself bored and essentially read this entire book in one sitting. If you like horror and science fiction, I cannot recommend this book enough.
Many thanks to HarperCollins for providing me an electronic ARC of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review. Quotations were taken from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon publication. You can find information about my rating criteria here.