Thursday, March 22, 2012

Early Review: Viral by James Lilliefors


In remote pockets of the Third World, a deadly virus is quietly sweeping through impoverished farming villages and shanty towns with frightening speed and potency. Meanwhile, in Washington, a three-word message left in a safe-deposit box may be the key to stopping the crisis—if, that is, Charles Mallory, a private intelligence contractor and former CIA operative, can decipher the puzzle before time runs out. 
 What Mallory begins to discover are the traces of a secret war, with a bold objective—to create a new, technologically advanced society. With the help of his brother Jon, an investigative reporter, can he break the story to the world before it is too late—before a planned “humane depopulation” takes place? As the stakes and strategies of this secret war become more evident, the Mallory brothers find themselves in a complex game of wits with an enemy they can’t see: a new sort of superpower led by a brilliant, elusive tactician who believes that ends justify means.

Random House

My Review

4 stars

Charles Mallory is a private intelligence contractor, and he's been working on a project, a puzzle, left to him by his father after his death. He's in Africa, to meet with a man who just might give him the information he needs to figure things out (the details of a "high-stakes war")... but Paul Bahdru, an african journalist whose wife was raped and murdered because of his 'treasonous' published work, never makes it to their secret meeting place. But his severed head does, though. Afraid of what might happen to him next, he goes on the run.

Charles's brother, Jon Mallory is worried that he hasn't contacted him like it was planned, so Jon starts to look for people who may be able to help him find Charles. Everything leads to Africa. When he gets there, he meets Dr. Sandra Oku, Paul Bahdru's cousin, who was one of the few survivors of the 'trial' in her village, only because her cousin was able to 'foresee' the attack and give her the means to protect herself. They will have to act as witnesses to the attack, they are the only ones that can prove it happened and that it is planned to happen again, but in even bigger proportions.

They come in big crates. Some say 'Perishable Fruit' on the outside. But on the inside are spray canisters. Viral properties in aerosol form, stored in four hundred gallon tanks. It's all part of a government project, carried out by a "humanitarian group", under the heading 'Malarian eradication'. They call it a vaccine, the 'aerial vaccine'. It can eliminate more than hundreds of thousands of people in one single morning. And they've been testing it in small villages in the most hidden places in Africa, in order to gauge the potency of the virus. Having 'trials' in regions where it won't get attention (and even if it was reported, the government would just deny it.) from western countries. You contract it, fall into a fevered sleep and never again wake up.

For some reason I expected this book to be more graphic and action-filled, a bit more like The Hot Zone. But it wasn't so focused on the virus and its victims itself, but more on the politicians and their plans to control the world. There's a lot of mystery and secrecy, and it was nice to see the tension building, but the first part of the book was very slow. Too slow. I almost gave it up. Thankfully, things got much better as I continued to read.

It was a brilliant idea for a book (if not a bit creepy and possible to picture in real life). A biological weapon to create a new, technologically advanced society by eliminating the empoverished, sick, and less usefull population? Wow. (I mean, let's be honest here, most of us have imagined something of the sort at some point in our lives, but to actually consider it...)  After all, biological weapons have low costs, are easy to access and hard to detect, even after use. You only notice it when the disease has already spread. And then it can be too late.

If you like mystery books with a lot of governmental conspiracies, secret war themes, suspense and spies, this is your book.

* I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

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