Sunday, 1 July 2018


3.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: Amazon Browse

Genre: Post Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Pandemic

This is the first in a three book series about a pandemic, the Su Flu.  It is told in diary format, the diarist (Chris) being an every-day sort of guy in his thirties, living in Chicago with his wife and two kids.  I wasn't sure about it at first; I liked the writing style, but one aspect was badly thought out: he and his wife watch the news about the flu and the increasing panic on TV news, but no reference is made to social media.  No mention of videos uploaded to Youtube, of posts on Facebook or Twitter ~ most people of his age use social media as a regular part of their lives.  The wife is supposed to have an internet shop—she would need to be social media savvy for this, but 'the internet' seems to be a little-used facility that appears only on her laptop, not on their phones or the TV, in the way of people more than twice their age.

The virus spreads, and within a week or so the fabric of society is breaking down, big time. It's well-written, flows nicely, and I wanted to keep turning the pages; I liked it.  Now and again I felt there was too much practical detail, such as the complicated layout of the condos, staircases, doorways, etc; too much, I couldn't visualise it.  Callahan would have done better to skip this and let readers form their own pictures.

It's a book for the lovers of this genre who are fascinated by survival on a day-to-day basis (like me), rather than those who want lots of guns, explosions, armies and/or zombies; it reminded me of the first 'Surviving The Evacuation' book by Frank Tayell, and provides great detail about how they eat, wash, keep safe from looters (and worse) outside; this was right up my street.  Every day, the family's situation gets a little more worrying, and I very much liked the way in which their awareness that this is the new reality increases all the time. 

The diary format has its limitations; sometimes a scene needed playing out instead of reporting, I felt, but on the whole I'd say the author has dealt with these limitations very well.  

I was going to give it 4* right up until the end....the surprise development and how it was set up for the next book was a great idea and unexpected, but it had one huge flaw.  Much of what I imagine will be one side of the story in Part 2 hinged round them finding a letter from a friend of Chris's called John Stevens, dated 6 days before the diary started, and offering Chris and his family a place in John's bunker type camp in the back of beyond.  All through the diary, Chris had been talking about where on earth the family could go if they left Chicago. He never once mentioned this offer; I didn't think I remembered it, and I checked back to the beginning afterwards, even did some word searches to make sure I hadn't missed it.  I hadn't.  So I reckon the author thought of this great new twist right at the end of the book, but didn't realise he needed to go back and redraft a little, to set it up.   So I've got to take a half star off for that, alas.  I find that this is what lets so many books of this type down: the lack of planning and redrafting to make them as good as they could be.  I liked this book.  It's good, I'm going to download the next one and I'd still recommend it, but it needs some more fine-tuning.


  1. I think, honestly, the lack of social media mentioning would have stopped me kind of cold. Especially if the wife is supposed to be internet-savvy. Just one of those things that makes so little sense it would turn me off.

    1. Yeah, it was definitely a point off - I'm just so addicted to the 'building awareness that something really bad is happening' bit in post apocalyptic books, so I carried on. Once that bit was over, it got much better.

      I've been finding the lack of social media mentioning in books a problem for some time now. I listened to an audio book about a magazine editor living in London who was worried about why her new boyfriend wouldn't reveal anything about his past, and she didn't even google him. And this was traditionally published, ie, by a Big 5. Makes me wonder why I bother getting all my own feasibility stuff right!!!