Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Book Review: Downfall by KW Callaghan (Systemic Series #1)

Something terrible is breeding in the mountains of northwest China…a virus so infectious, its symptoms so overwhelming that its mortality rate is almost absolute. The “Su flu” as it eventually becomes known, quickly ravages the body of its host, killing it within just days, and worse yet, it’s gone airborne. Just weeks after making its appearance on the world stage – the earth’s population held as its captive audience – the virus has taken that stage and annihilated nearly all its spectators.

Writer and stay-at-home dad John Stevens never considered himself a “prepper” like the ones he’d seen on television. Just a regular guy, married to a regular girl, with a wonderful two-year-old son, life in the suburbs of Chicago is good, and John and his family are living the American dream…that is, until the Su flu strikes.

With mankind suddenly gripped by the worst pandemic in history, will the foresight that led John to prepare some emergency supplies and an evacuation plan be enough for him and his family to survive not just this deadly virus but the chaos that ensues? Or will they succumb to the renegade lawlessness that has turned much of humanity’s remnants into a vicious, scavenging, do-anything-to-survive populace?

As John and his family search for some semblance of the world they once knew, they’ll discover just what they’re willing to do to survive in a grueling post-pandemic world. 

My Review:
China has lost control of quarantining a deadly biological outbreak and news of a deadly flu reaches the US media where amateur prepper and stay at home dad Jack is concerned about what it might mean. His worry turns to fear when he hears of cases of this flu in the hospital where his wife works, and he makes preperations to take the family on a 'camping trip' for a few days, knowing that they may well not be coming back. Can he escape to a rural camping area before the flu hits?

Jack has a small amount of stored supplies compared to other preppers but it is enough for the family to survive a reasonable amount of time at the rural camp ground that Claire's dad chose for this bug out location. He persuades Claire, who has no prepper interest to go away with him for a few days. While she expects to return to work as planned, Jack is sure that the flu will by then be all over the hospital and that their stay at the site will be long term. He has written messages to all their loved ones asking them to join them in this safer place but will they choose to come? And will those that do get there safely?

This was an enjoyable apocalypse tale. Jack is a normal family man who has some concerns about how dangerous the world is and has taken a few precautions just in case the worst happens. He has a modest amount of supplies and a plan to get to a safe place not too far away. His wife Claire has no interest in these matters but her father is a small time prepper as well. As he watches the flu outbreak start to arrive in the US, Jack starts looking at his options and getting nervous. Discovering that there have been a couple of deaths at the local hospital related to the outbreak is enough for Jack to put his basic plans into action.

I enjoyed watching Jack get ready and take his family to the new location. We are with him as he sets up his camp in a well hidden area and starts getting organised for a longer stay. It is only when they hear radio reports of the flu outbreak rapidly spreading that Claire agrees not to go back. That is when people start to arrive in the area. We follow the fortunes of other members of Jack and Claire's families as they try to get to the safe haven at a time when all hell is breaking loose in the towns and cities as the flu spreads. Not everyone is ready for such a disaster and there are those who are determined to take from others.

I did have a few niggles with the plot. The first was the idea that the men should bond over smoking cigarettes together and Jack gets all upset when the nojn smokers don't want to. That to me is very stupid. First, why should a non smoker feel obligated to smoke so he can 'join in'??? This makes no sense and Jack's sulk when a few refuse is childish beyond all measure! The second was going into the nearby town to practice shooting BEFORE checking it was clear of people was stupid and leads to trouble. Claire decides to jump into water of an unknown depth and gets into a bit of trouble too. These are stupid things to do at any time but in the apocalypse a lot more care needs to be taken with no medical help around for injuries.

This has all the elements of a good apocalypse series-the family setting up in a new place, the dangerous road trips, the worry over missing family members and the bad guys who are out there causing trouble. There might not be anything really new to the plot but I usually enjoy this kind of thing. There is a lot of action towards the end of the book and there are a few plot twists that I wasn't expecting. It was entertaining to read and I want to read the rest of the series so I can't ask for much more than that!

Read September 2017
4 stars. 


  1. I love books like this! They always make me want to go out and buy extra batteries and water bottles...oh, and chocolate! :D

    1. Oh yes you need a good supply of chocolate put by! I'm finishing getting in my winter supplies just now-Twinkies, chocolate and cheesy biscuits!

  2. Great cover. I was waiting for you to say the dead don't stay dead. I haven't read an end of the world book without zombies for a long time. LOL Glad this one is worth continuing the series.

    1. It's been ages since I read a zombie book! Actually I'm not reading anything right now so I need to find some motivation. Still, at least I've managed a few book reviews!

  3. I like reading books like this. The flu can be deadly and with all the open borders just think how quickly it can spread.
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. Yeah that worries me in real life too. You can bet I'm keeping a close eye on events in Madagascar!