#BookReview: Contagion by Michael McBride

LOTS Of Moving Parts. This is one of those longer books at 634 pages with a LOT of moving parts that can be difficult to track at times – but which it is hard to say that McBride could have separated into two books at any given point. MAYBE by separating out some of the individual threads into two separate yet concurrent 300 ish page books? Yet I struggle to think that the tale would be so compelling without seeing all that is happening at once.

Essentially this is the tale of the beginning of the Apocalypse, and McBride makes it clear in his author’s note that a major inspiration was The Stand (which believe it or not, I’ve never read). Another somewhat similar story that I drew several parallels with from one of McBride’s contemporaries is the Project Eden series by Brett Battles, which I’ve noted for years was the best full series I’ve yet read.

Here, McBride begins to make his case to take that title, and despite the length here and just how many individual threads are all going on… he absolutely makes a strong opening statement. By the end of this book, it is quite clear that this particular tale setting up the Apocalypse and showing how it began is complete… and yet it is also quite clear that several threads will be left for subsequent books and at least a few of them are likely to not be resolved until the final book of this series, whenever that may be. Very much recommended.

This review of Contagion by Michael McBride was originally written on June 2, 2022.

#BookReview: Down by Brett Battles

Go Right! For a Fitting Conclusion. OK, so the “Go Right!” bit is somewhat of an inside joke you’ll get to when you read this book. Overall, with this book Battles once again collapses the global to the personal, and in so doing gives us a very fitting end to the series – while allowing other tales in this world. We get answers for one central character somewhat early in this book, but overall the arc of this book truly is Captain Daniel Ash’s final revenge against the organization that took nearly everything from him before he even knew they existed. The ending, in particular, was a bit mind bending in a very cool way that is not unique, but is fairly rare. Absolutely a fitting end to an excellent series, and one that leaves the reader with an adequate sense of closure.

This review of Down by Brett Battles was originally published on July 30, 2018.

#BookReview: Dream Sky by Brett Battles

The End Begins. In this longest book of the PROJECT EDEN series so far, Brett Battles does a superb job of taking us from the shocking ending of EDEN RISING, bringing the key players back together briefly as they figure out the enigmatic message that ended that book, and setting up a truly global endgame. Fraught with taut sequences that fill the reader with dread about the possible survival of characters you’ve been following for several books now, this book is arguably the single best book in the series of leaving the reader desperate to dive into the next book. Fortunately for those of us late arrivers to this series, the next and final book in this saga has already been published. But I had to write this review before I can allow myself to go to the next book, so goodb

This review of Dream Sky by Brett Battles was originally published on July 28, 2018.

#BookReview: Eden Rising by Brett Battles

Solid Succession, Surprising Ending. This book superbly continues the tale of PROJECT EDEN, the Sage Flu, and the Resistance. Battles does a superb job of illustrating just how shocking such a world would be to any survivors, and even manages to introduce some things most would likely not consider. And that ending… with very nearly the very last words of the book, the storyline is irrevocably changed. Superb.

This review of Eden Rising by Brett Battles was originally published on July 27, 2018.

#BookReview: Ashes by Brett Battles

As The World Burns. Here, Battles adjusts the style of the tale slightly again. We still get a sense of a global Apocalypse through the reports from India, a new island in Costa Rica not in the prior books, California, Wisconsin, and Colorado, but here the countdown – fairly ineffective in PALE HORSE – really drives the point home. Meanwhile, instead of the shotgun “let’s go to all kinds of places” approach that seemed to drive PALE HORSE, we get just a few threads to follow here. Most of the tale winds up focusing on efforts to locate Brandon Ash, and the other two dominant threads are the Costa Rican island and the Ridgecrest survivors in California. All told, the story is yet again done superbly, and yet again I’m glad I waited to read them so that I can read all of them at once without having to wait for the next one to be written.

This review of Ashes by Brett Battles was originally published on July 22, 2018.

#BookReview: Pale Horse by Brett Battles

Baited Breath. This book picks up immediately where EXIT 9 left off and covers just the next two days – the first two days of the Apocalypse. Another global tale, yet Battles also manages to weave in three distinct families – the Ashes, obviously, but also one in India and one that we met during SICK – to make this tale both global and personal. The countdown isn’t as effective in this book as it was in EXIT 9, but the overall tale is arguably a bit stronger even without it, due to giving an even wider global scale while also making it, as noted, so intensely personal. The very last paragraph, well… Excellent book, and looking forward to diving straight into ASHES.

This review of Pale Horse by Brett Battles was originally published on July 20, 2018.

#BookReview: Exit 9 by Brett Battles

Personal Goes Global. With SICK (Project Eden #1), Battles set up the coming global conflict but used one man’s struggle to save his family as the primary story, with just the barest hints that it could become much bigger. With this book, we spend much more time at the Global scale, with the clock ticking down to the moment the human population is ordered nearly extinct. Particularly in the later chapters, short chapters and an ever decreasing clock ramp up the adrenaline. Very effective book, and you’ll be glad you hadn’t read it yet by the end – with the series completed now, we can go straight into PALE HORSE (Project Eden #3) – something those early readers couldn’t doo, and which would have been frustrating, given the ending.

This review of Exit 9 by Brett Battles was originally published on July 19, 2018.

#BookReview: Sick by Brett Battles

Sick In The Best Ways. This is one wild ride, that starts with a man’s daughter screaming only for him to realize moments later that his wife is dead. Soon, he and his kids are kidnapped and separated. It turns out, they unknowingly have something that is extremely valuable to some very… sick… people. This introduction to the PROJECT EDEN series is more TAKEN than Apocalypse, but the tease of a coming Apocalypse is very real and very visceral. By the end, you’re glad the entire series is already written, because you’ll immediately want to jump into Book 2.

This review of Sick by Brett Battles was originally published on July 17, 2018.

#BookReview: The Distance by Jeremy Robinson

Jeremy teams up with his wife Hilaree for her debut novel in this intriguing sci-fi epic.

We get thrown into the mystery fairly quickly, with the event that sets up the rest of the tale happening within the first few pages – all of a sudden, every human on the planet except two are turned to dust at once. Why were these two spared? Can they find each other? How do they survive in a world where they are suddenly the last two humans on the planet?

The first half of the book goes into detail about what the world is like now and the difficulties the survivors face. The second half then answers the lingering questions.

Overall a truly great tale, and an impressive debut for Hilaree!

This review of The Distance by Jeremy and Hilaree Robinson was originally published on November 25, 2016.

#BookReview: Feast by Jeremy Robinson

This time we travel, interestingly, not far from where the real me actually lives – to the swamps outside Charleston, SC. This book in particular is great because it slows the pace down a bit from the first book, yet WAY amps up the drama. There are certain situations in this book that will make some/ possibly many uncomfortable, but this is still a Jeremiah Knight/ Jeremy Robinson book – you don’t have to worry about actually seeing any of the things I refer to. The monsters here are top notch, as always, but the case could be made that the real monsters of this story are the humans our heroes encounter – and along the way, we may just see the possibility that perhaps the monsters we know aren’t so monstrous, and the people we know aren’t so nice…

This review of Feast by Jeremy Robinson was originally published on June 9, 2016.