The Apocalypse Strain: Jason Parent
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Big thanks to Netgalley, Flametree Press and Jason for letting me check out his newest ‘The Apocalypse Strain.’
I have a few of Jason’s book, yet somehow I’ve not gotten to them yet, which after reading this will be rectified shortly!
I love diving into Horror/Sci-Fi, and when I saw this one come up, I knew I’d need to give it a whirl.
What I liked: ‘The Apocalypse Strain’ tells the story of a virus found deep in the permafrost in Siberia. A group of scientists are then gathered to analyze the finding in a remote complex. The complex was originally designed to aid astronauts preparing for a mission to Mars.
Parent doesn’t ease us into this book one little bit. Instead, from the first page, he decides to shoot out of the gate and from there the book never lets up. This one features a widely diverse cast of characters and because of that, they each have their own unique back story or point of view as everything keeps getting worse. I enjoyed how Parent made sure to not highlight one singular character. While Dr St. Pierre is featured a bit more and we learn a little more about her than the others, she still never comes across as the ‘pure hero’ or ‘saviour’ that we know will live and be there for the last page. No, she’s incredibly flawed, which made her that much more relatable. Now, I use the term flawed for her – but that isn’t describing or categorizing the fact that she has MS. I use that term based on her distrust and dislike or other people. And while some of that may be related to previous encounters around her condition, she doesn’t use her disease as a negative. Her brain is her ultimate weapon, her strongest muscle and that is evident throughout her entire story arc.
The organism or virus, dubbed “Molli” is a vicious beast and I loved how Parent used it to not only build tension and fear but also to create distrust between the characters.
What I didn’t like: A couple of things really stand out for me. While this book does go down some very familiar Horror/Sci-Fi tropes, that is almost expected in a story like this. So, for those parts, I really just let my brain shut off and enjoy the ride. I didn’t want to start to dislike anything especially when I could see some stuff coming. No, for me there were two main parts that bugged me.
The first was the ease at which our protestor, Dante, gets into the complex. This is supposed to be a highly secure, remote, classified complex that is located in the freezing tundra of Siberia, but for some reason, there are protestors out front? That was a stretch that I struggled with. And when Dante nonchalantly strolled into the parking garage, I was a bit put off. I know we needed a way for him to infiltrate, but it still seemed a bit too easy.
The second was, while there is a vast and diverse cast of characters, this also made many of them forgettable and for the most part, some were completely unnecessary. I finished this last night and there are some characters that I can’t recall their names of, not even twelve hours later. It’s a minor thing, but for me it made a lot of the group unrelatable.
Why you should buy it: This is “Summer Blockbuster” personified. This is the Michael Bay-big-explosions-big-set-pieces movie that we all would be excited to go watch right now if COVID-19 hadn’t shut everything down. Parent delivers a superb action-adventure book and if you pair this with the other recent Flametree release from Brian Moreland, ‘Tomb of Gods,’ well, you really have two fantastic books for a great doubleheader. This one was a fun time and definitely one I hope everyone checks out!
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.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.
Steve is the author of three novels, a number of novellas and four collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
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