Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: Coming Flu

Nobody likes getting sick. Those first hints of a runny nose or fever bring a feeling of dread on a normal day. They inspire terror when you are living inside a quarantine zone teeming with a deadly flu virus. This is what the residents of La Bendita face. Knowing you could die at any moment is frightening enough. Add in the growing suspicions that the flu isn't the only thing killing people, and the situation becomes even more dire. There best hope is a retired scientist, Sarah, but time is quickly running out. 

Coming Flu takes the yearly flu to the next level, when a strain more deadly than usual begins dropping residents faster than anyone expected. The medical and scientific aspects of this story are very well researched. Greger's background in science showed through in her writing. I felt confident that what she was telling me was accurate. 

On the flip side of that, the balance between explaining and giving too much was sometimes blurred. Greger explained what CDC stands for several times, but then there would be several paragraphs of discussion on the types of DNA involved in virus replication or factors in host resistance. Even with my background in science, there was plenty that was over my head. For readers with less familiarity with these topics, I fear sections will not be understood very well. 

The characters in Coming Flu were all quite interesting. I felt they all had unique qualities and Greger did a good job of showing the different personalities and how they reacted to the quarantine and the threat of dying. The variety of characters kept the story interesting. Greger also did a good job of capturing the emotions of the characters as they struggled with their experiences. The medical staff, police, and residents were all effected. 

The mystery that develops alongside the quarantine storyline was interesting as well. I was a little surprised Greger pulled away from the flu epidemic to weave in an unrelated criminal story, but the mystery around the Petersen's was interesting. I felt the clues were subtle for the most part and it added a second layer to the story. There was aspects of the flu mystery that I didn't find to be as subtle. The connection to La Bendita and how the flu ended up there seemed fairly obvious right away. The Petersen mystery was a little stronger than the flu mystery, however, medical thriller readers may not be as pulled in by the Petersen mystery if it was not was they were expecting. 

There were some smaller factors, mainly to do with the level and quality of editing that were an issue for me as well. In general, the grammatical editing could have been better. It's something I've noticed consistently with this publisher. The internal thoughts of the characters occasionally got a bit lengthy, but the dialog was more of a hindrance for me. The dialog often felt stilted because of it's lack of contractions and the frequent use of exclamation points made it seem like the characters were screaming. Aside from the editing, there were also some sexual scenes that I didn't feel added a lot to the story and some bad language that may turn some readers off. 

Would I recommend this book? I would have to give this a tentative recommendation. Some readers are going to enjoy it, but I don't think it will appeal to everyone. 

Who would I recommend this book to? Straight up medical thriller readers may not get the focused story they were expecting, but there is still enough of a focus that those interested in the topic will enjoy it. The side mystery was interesting, so there is an appeal for mystery readers, but it also is not the main focus. I think this book will mainly appeal to readers who want both a crime mystery and medical thriller rolled into one. 

Coming Flu is available from Oak Tree Press and Amazon

You can find out more about JL Greger and her writing on her website