Surviving the Apocalypse: A Review of Patient Zero

Patient Zero Post Apocalyptic Short Stories book cover. There is a biohazard sign on the cover as well.Title: Patient Zero: Post-Apocalyptic Short Stories (Project Renova #0.5)

Author: Terry Tyler

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: 2017

Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic

Length: 120 pages

Source: I received a free copy from Terry

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb:

The year is 2024.
A mysterious virus rages around the UK.
Within days, ‘bat fever’ is out of control.
Patient Zero is a collection of nine short stories featuring characters from the post apocalyptic Project Renova series. All stories are completely ‘stand alone’.

1. Jared: The Spare Vial
Jared has two vaccinations against the deadly virus: one for him, one for a friend…

2. Flora: Princess Snowflake
The girl with the perfect life, who believes in her father, the government, Christian charity and happy endings.

3. Jeff: The Prepper
What does a doomsday ‘prepper’ do when there is nothing left to prepare for?

4. Karen: Atonement
She ruined her sister’s last day on earth, and for this she must do penance.

5. Aaron: #NewWorldProblems
Aaron can’t believe his luck; he appears to be immune. But his problems are far from over.

6. Ruby: Money To Burn
Eager to escape from her drug dealer boyfriend’s lifestyle, Ruby sets off with a bag filled with cash.

7. Meg: The Prison Guard’s Wife
Meg waits for her husband to arrive home from work. And waits…

8. Evie: Patient Zero
Boyfriend Nick neglects her. This Sunday will be the last time she puts up with it. The very last time.

9. Martin: This Life
Life after life has taught the sixty year old journalist to see the bigger picture.

Review

Review:

Content warning: death. This will otherwise be a spoiler-free post.

It’s impossible to get away from an invisible foe that has spread everywhere.

Normally, I pick about three short stories in an anthology and do mini-review for all of them. This time I decided to shake things up since everything in this collection has the same setting. The characters change, but the effects of the Kerivoula Lanosa (bat fever) virus are felt by everyone in this world.

The character development was well done across the board. Each character had a limited amount of time to show the audience who he or she was due to how everything was formatted, so I was impressed by how well I got to know everyone. Their unique personalities shone through no matter how many or how few pages they had to share their experiences. While I can’t say that I’d necessarily want to be buddies with everyone in this universe, I did want to learn more about all of them. They were all genuinely interesting folks, and that’s something I always love discovering in a book.

While I didn’t expect to have every question of mine answered neatly, especially since I haven’t read the rest of this series yet, I would have liked to see a little more attention paid to the final story. Martin: This Life had a tone that was nothing like anything else I’d read earlier. It also introduced a plot twist that had not been so much as hinted at in any of the other stories. In fact, it seemed to change the genre classification entirely. I was intrigued by this surprise, but I also wish it had been explained a little better.

With that being said, I still enjoyed this collection and would recommend it to new and longterm fans of Ms. Tyler’s work alike. It left me with so many questions about what happened next in this universe that I can’t wait to read everything else about these characters and the plague they tried to survive.

This anthology is part of the Project Renova series, but it can be read as a standalone work.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Famous Books I Don’t Plan to Read

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

The pages of a book have been bent into a circle. A person's face is staring at you from the other end of that circle.The assumption I made this week was that most participants would be talking about books they are not interested in reading that were published in the last twenty years or so.

It will be interesting to see if everyone else answered this from the same perspective.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1) by Stieg Larsson

Why: I do enjoy the occasional mystery, but I’ve heard this is more of an action/adventure novel. Generally, I’m not interested in mixing those two genres together.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Why: This book includes some disturbing content that I refuse to read about.

No Country for Old Men  by Cormac McCarthy

Why: After finishing The Road, I decided not to read anything else from this author. He’s a talented writer, but his imagination is too dark for my tastes.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Why: I’m burned out on World War II novels, especially if they’re about all of the inhumane things that happened in concentration camps. Of course it’s important that we never forget what happened to the victims of the Holocaust, but this reader needs a long break from stories set in that time and place.

Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1) by Ernest Cline

Why: I’ve read too many books similar to it. If that wasn’t the case, this would be the sort of thing that would grab my attention. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)
by Sarah J. Maas

Why: Romance is a genre I’m generally not that interested in. While there are definitely aspects of this story that appeal to me, I’d much rather read fantasy that doesn’t include plots about falling into or out of love.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. The image below is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.

Top Ten Tuesday: Extraordinary Book Titles

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I’m going to assume that this week’s prompt is asking us to make a list of book titles that are unique and attention grabbing. Everything on my list is something that grabbed my attention so thoroughly I had to pick it up and read the blurb as soon as I spotted its title. Since most of them are still on my TBR, I won’t go into detail about them this time.

1. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, #1) by Seth Grahame-Smith

2. The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin

3. Fairy Tales Written by Rabbits by Mary A. Parker

4. Never Slow Dance with a Zombie  by E. Van Lowe

5. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Two story library with a painted vault ceiling

6. Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

7.The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1) by Catherynne M. Valente

8.Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

9. Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don’t Float: Classic Lit Signs on to Facebook by Sarah Schmelling

10. Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs

Characters I’d Never Invite to Thanksgiving Dinner

Pumpkin pie, forks, and a decorative gourd sitting on a Thanksgiving supper tableHappy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian readers!

Last year I wrote about the characters I’d want to invite over for a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner.

Since then, I’ve gotten some hits on my site from people who are wondering which characters shouldn’t be included on a Thanksgiving dinner guest list.

Honestly, I could happily make small talk about how unpredictable the weather can be in October or why pumpkin pie is so delicious with 99.99% of the people and characters out there. There are plenty of ways to gently guide a conversation along to lighthearted topics if you don’t have much in common or know each other well.

It would take a lot for me to refuse to share such a hospitable and inclusive holiday with someone…especially if they don’t have anywhere else to go!

With that being said, even I have my limits. Here are the characters who would never be invited to my house for Thanksgiving dinner.

1. Dolores Umbridge from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. 

Why: She was a violent, cruel person who did a deceptively good job of hiding that part of her personality from authority figures and anyone else who might have stopped her.

2. The Borg from Star Trek

Why: As cool as it might be to have some body parts replaced by machines, I do not want them to assimilate me or the other guests against our will. Former members of The Borg like Seven of Nine who simply want to eat some food and discuss human culture would be welcomed in my home.

3. Heathcliff from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights 

Why: Like Dolores, Heathcliffe was skilled at putting on the facade of being a good person while doing quietly terrible things to his victims behind the scenes. This is something I simply can’t sweep under the rug.

4. President Snow and President Coin from Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy 

Why: Does anyone actually want to spend Thanksgiving with ruthless dictators who have repeatedly sent innocent people to their deaths? If so, I’ve never met such a person.

This list was pretty short, but I felt that I’d be repeating myself if I added anyone else to it. Basically, the behaviours that would make me exclude someone on Thanksgiving are limited to things that would also be bright red flags the other 364 days of the year. The vast majority of people would never behave this way, so my list of folks who could join me for a special holiday meal will always be miles longer than the ones who will have to make other plans that day.

Which characters would you never invite over for Thanksgiving dinner?

Choosing to Survive: A Review of Powdered Souls

Title: Powdered Souls, A Short Story: They Decided to Survive (Snow Sub Series Book 1)

Author: Dixon Reuel

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: 2019

Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance

Length: 22 pages

Source: I received a free copy from Dixon

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: People together in close quarters – fraternization naturally follows.

A military VR trainer, wanting to keep her relationship with a fellow scientist hidden, must pass a security inspection in her lab by the vicious Atlas Crusade that has swept to power.

When the leader of the security team demands an unusual VR request in her lab, Prof. Meliss must decide between keeping her lover safe, or secretly undertaking a consciousness swap that could end the Crusade’s five-year long relentless rule. A rule that has co-opted all scientific research to aid their global expansion, rendering Prof. Meliss and Prof. Lauren expendable, as legions of other researches wait to step into their lab if either woman dishonors the great Crusade.

Science and the military aren’t always a good match for each other.

Virtual reality is one of those topics that always makes my ears perk up when I see it mentioned in a science fiction blurb. There are so many different ways to approach this idea that an author can do just about anything with it, and Ms. Reuel came up with a pretty creative take on why the military would be interested in developing a virtual world for their soldiers to explore. Their reason for paying for this research is something best discovered by readers for themselves.

The world building would have benefited from more development. I was confused by how the military seemed to simultaneously know everything that was happening in their research bases and yet also not know simple things about them like what sort of equipment they used or how their experiments were going. It’s totally possibly for a regime to act this way, but it would have been nice to know what the limits of their knowledge was.

Prof. Meliss, the main character, wasn’t given much opportunity to reveal her personality either. I’d struggle to tell you much about her as an individual or explain why she’d gotten into a relationship with her assistant, Dr. Lauren, knowing how dangerous that would be for both of them. A lot of this character development could be coming in future volumes, but it would have been helpful to have a better understanding of who she was and why they were willing to take such huge risks. I always like finding queer couples in science fiction, so I was disappointed with how their arc played out so far.

One of the few things I did learn about Prof. Meliss was that she could think quickly in a crisis. That’s the perfect skill to have when an army has descended onto your base and is breaking down the front door. The most interesting scenes in my opinion were the ones in the beginning that described how she reacted to this invasion.

Since this was both a short story and the first instalment in a series, I was definitely not expecting the character development or world building to be perfectly ironed out. But I would have liked to see at least a few sentences spent explaining how this militaristic society works, why relationships between scientists and their assistants were punished so harshly, and what the military was and wasn’t capable of. Getting thrown into a new world is amusing, but I needed more answers about what was happening before the final scene wrapped up.

With that being said, I saw a lot of promise in this tale. There were hints about how climate change had affected the lives of ordinary people in this futuristic world that I’m incredibly curious to learn more about.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books That Did a Great Job of Explaining Science to Non-Scientists

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. I’ve mentioned my interest in science in previous posts here. There’s nothing like finding new books about various branches of science that were written for people who are not experts on the topic. All of these titles were good reads that I’d recommend to anyone who wants to learn… Read More

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: What I’d Want on a Deserted Island

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Here are the assumptions I’m going to be making for this week’s prompt: The island has a climate that will not kill me with heat stroke, frost bite, or unlucky encounters with the wildlife when I arrive. I will have enough food, water, shelter, medicine, and other basic supplies… Read More