Continue below to read my review of the book and be sure to check out the rest of the stops on 'The Apocalypse Strain' blog tour brought to you by Random Things Tours, Flame Tree Press, and Jason Parent! All the tour stops are listed on the banner below!
'The Apocalypse Strain' by Jason Parent is a well-rounded sci-fi/horror hybrid about a multi-national research team charged with the study of an ancient pandoravirus in an isolated Siberian facility. The organic substance, almost affectionately referred to as 'Molli'.. a shortened version of its scientific name, reveals some unusual characteristics which could make it extremely dangerous in the wrong hands.
Soon, the research team discovers that in anyone's hands, 'Molli' cannot be allowed to escape their compound, but it's evolving quickly and intent on exactly that.
There are definitely echoes here of the sci-fi/horror cult classic The Thing/(From Another World) first made famous by Howard Hawks in 1951, then later to huge success in 1982 by John Carpenter, and again in 2011. The team, locked away in a frozen wasteland to focus their research, finds amongst themselves an outbreak of a smart, deadly enemy. It was certainly enough to frighten caution then as it is here.
Our main character, Clara, is a medical genomics expert who suffers from MS. Confined to a wheelchair, she's largely introverted. Not particularly a fan of people, she can count on one hand the number of those she's found agreeable amongst the staff of approximately 1,000.. and she doesn't even need all the digits on that hand.
She's got a bit of a chip on her shoulder, carrying her illness almost as a shield to ward off potential closeness from those around her, but she's still relatively likeable.
Amongst the supporting characters.. there's Jordan-- the young botanist who seems to have taken a shine to her, Monty-- a slightly over the top ASAP security soldier, Anju-- the assistant of a fellow scientist that Clara considers almost overly bubbly, and a host of other soldiers and team members.
Dante, seen as a sort of unknown variable for much of the story, has a clear set of goals.. but a very strong sense of self and his own principles to play by. He was actually my favorite character for much of the journey, though his intentions and methods sometimes seemed questionable, his sarcastic quips and refusal to bow to those who deemed themselves authority had me laughing more than once.
Parent shows an adept hand at hiding a few surprises along the way with subtlety, misdirecting where he needs to, and limiting the amount of time that passes which might give the reader a reason to concern themselves, until you can't even always pinpoint where something may have initially occurred.
All in all, it was a highly charged story filled with page-turning action and some gory details that were viscerally detailed. While it's likely for some a bit too similar to some more famous stories like those I mentioned above, it's still very well done. I had a lot of fun reading this and would recommend it to any fan of sci-fi contagion novels.
"Jason Parent is an author of horror, thrillers, mysteries, science fiction and dark humor, though his many novels, novellas, and short stories tend to blur the boundaries between these genres.
From his EPIC and eFestival Independent Book Award finalist first novel, What Hides Within, to his widely applauded police procedural/supernatural thriller, Seeing Evil, Jason’s work has won him praise from both critics and fans of diverse genres alike. His work has been compared to that of some of his personal favorite authors, such as Chuck Palahniuk, Jack Ketchum, Tess Gerritsen, and Joe Hill.
Jason grew up near Fall River, Massachusetts, the setting for several of his novels. He has lived in New England most his life, currently residing in Rhode Island." -- from authorjasonparent.com