The Apocalypse Strain: Jason Parent
Reviewed By The Grim Reader
With lockdown restrictions beginning to ease the Kendall Reviews team has been granted a reprieve from awkward conversations, using the same toilet and Steve Stred’s jokes. I’ve learnt a thing or two since being locked up: I prefer my own company, and Gavin needs to hire a new chef.
Time has provided the Grim Reader plenty of opportunity to indulge in the pleasures of the palm written word. After being all shuck up with my previous books, it was time to sample something from Flame Tree Press. Jason Parent’s The Apocalypse Strain sounded like my kind of jam. It’s time for El Grimbo to bring balance back to the review table. The truth is out there.
I’ll be honest. I went in expecting an exciting pandemic thriller, the perfect book for these Covid-19 times. Sadly, what I ended up with was a forgettable sci-fi horror story that stole too many ideas from John Carpenter’s The Thing and Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation.
It’s a difficult job writing a book I get that. Writers are proud to wear their influences on their sleeve and pay homage to the movies and books of yesteryear that made their hairs stand on end. However, sometimes your love of such things can stifle creativity and originality.
The Apocalypse Strain travels a well-worn horror path. A biological virus lays dormant under the Siberian ice until a research group thinks it a good idea to retrieve and study it. What happens? Well, I probably don’t need to tell you, but I will. The hapless team spends its time running around the facility dodging mutated work colleagues in search of an escape route. Who do you trust? Nobody! How can you tell if somebody is infected with the virus? You can’t until they’ve assimilated you. Sound familiar? It should because it’s The Thing!
Unfortunately, familiarity breeds contempt and I found myself disliking this book because of its lack of original ideas. The second half of the book was much better than the first, yet still, it was difficult to become fully immersed due to a cast of unremarkable characters.
It may not sound like it but all is not lost. The Apocalypse Strain has some genuinely great moments of horror as characters are torn and twisted into one another. Bodies are shredded, cremated and transformed into otherworldly abominations. A scene that could’ve come straight from Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation later in the book was a real highlight. Sadly, it was too little too late, the Grim Reader’s mind was made-up.
There will be readers who love this, but I can’t shake the feeling of déjà vu. And so…
2/5 trips to the Biodome from the Grim Reader.
The Apocalypse Strain
A multi-national research team, led by a medical genomics expert suffering from MS, study an ancient pandoravirus at a remote Siberian research facility. Called “Molli” by the research team, the organic substance reveals some unique but troublesome characteristics, qualities that, in the wrong hands, could lead to human extinction.
The researchers soon learn that even in the right hands, Molli is a force too dangerous to escape their compound. But the virus has a mind of its own, and it wants out.
The Grim Reader
The Grim Reader resides on the Gold Coast, Australia. A school teacher by day, a lover of dark fiction, heavy metal, Arsenal FC, bourbon and coffee at night.
The Grim Reader loves nothing more than reading and rocking.