Thursday, 26 May 2016

Book Review: The Jakarta Pandemic by Steven Konkoly (The Perseid Collapse #0.5)

The People's Republic of China announces strict travel restrictions... Indonesia goes dark...Cases of an uncategorized influenza virus appear in major cities around the globe... Department of Health and Human Services officials claim that measures have been taken to safeguard the American public...

Most ignore the warnings...

Alex Fletcher, Iraq War veteran, has read the signs for years. A seasoned sales representative for Biosphere Pharmaceuticals, he understands the unique dangers of a pandemic flu and has taken the necessary steps to prepare. With his family and home mobilized to endure an extended period of seclusion, Alex thinks he's ready for the pandemic. He's not even close.

The lethal H16N1 virus rapidly spreads across the nation, stretching the fragile bonds of society to the breaking point. Schools close, grocery stores empty, fuel deliveries stop, hospitals start turning away the sick...riots engulf the cities.
As hostility and mistrust engulfs his idyllic Maine neighborhood, Alex quickly realizes that the H16N1 virus will be the least of his problems. 

My Review:
Alex is a drug rep who has been prepping for an upcoming pandemic. As one starts moving through Indonesia and China, Alex tries to prepare his family, warn his neighbours, keep an eye on the news and deal with his dreadful boss. As word about the scale of the pandemic slowly reaches the media, Alex gets ready to put his family into quarantine.

As an MC, I wasn't sure what to make of Alex. At times he is smugly superior about how prepared he is while others are going to struggle. I get that some preppers have little sympathy for those who don't follow their example, as they feel that the information about potential disasters coming is available for everyone to read and do something about. So Alex can be annoyingly smug at times. However, he does try to persuade his family to come and stay with them, and he does try to warn the neighbours he likes about getting ready. He offers advice, bordering on lecturing. We don't see much of his kids as they seem to spend all their time asleep. I'm not too sure what the point of that was if we aren't getting to know our main characters. I would have liked to see a bit more of the neighbours that Alex was offering help and advice to so we can get to know them before disaster strikes.

I actually like books where we follow each stage of a prepper getting ready for a disaster, as I find that really interesting. The book certainly does cover that but it gets overshadowed by the side story of Alex and his battles with boss Ted, which I really disliked. Alex was planning to quit his job anyway so page after page of his battles with Ted were a bit pointless, a bit silly and added nothing to the plot of the book. The whole scene with Ted and his armed thugs forcing their way in to search the house felt unrealistic and I started losing a bit of interest from this point on. Sadly I didn't actually make it to the pandemic hitting them.

It does take a long time to get into the main part of the story. The pandemic has not come near their area after 100 pages of the story. It is still focused on the Ted story at this stage and I just wanted the story to move on to the actual outbreak and what comes after. It was just taking way too long to forget about Alex's job and get on with it. I also found it strangely long for a prequel. Prequels are usually novellas to introduce the characters but this one was 400 pages which seems a bit long! However, at least the author is not producing the story like a serial novel where you pay for tiny segments-you are getting your money's worth from it. I would have wanted to cut the Ted nonsense, edit out what wasn't necessary and focus on the pandemic and the characters. If that had been done, I think this had the potential to be a really good story.

Despite the low rating, this is not a bad book. It is actually well written, it has cohesion and flows quite nicely and it is a decent plot. It just had too much focus on elements that detracted from the plot and was just a bit too slow for my tastes. It wouldn't stop me from reading other things by the author at a later date.

2.5 star review.

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