Survivor Song

Paul Tremblay

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“THIS IS NOT a fairy tale. Certainly it is not one that has been sanitized, homogenized, or Disneyfied.”
Tremblay warns you right from the beginning that what you are about to read isn’t going to be yet another happily-ever-after fable where the heroes (or in this case heroines) overcome adversity, kill the wicked witch and survive unscathed. Survivor Song is, at its heart, a love story – a wife’s love for her husband, a mother’s love for her unborn child, the love of close friends for each other – but it is messy, difficult love that requires effort and sacrifices.

In modern day Massachusetts, and new and horrifically virulent epidemic of the rabies virus has broken out, overwhelming the feeble efforts of an unprepared government to curtail its spread. Heavily pregnant Natalie runs for help to her old friend Ramola, a British paediatrician, and the pair get swept up in the response to the epidemic, leaving them to witness just how quickly things can fall apart.

The pace of novel is handled masterfully, from the rushed, panicked attacks where you barely have time to realise what’s going on, to the interminable stretches of nothing that wrack your nerves and leave you anxious for the next piece of action. Natalie’s “hey-in-the-event-I-die” messages to her unborn baby add to the steadily growing sense of trepidation.

At this point, I’d like to ask Paul Tremblay to pick some lottery numbers for me, as the story is so prescient as to seem that he has a crystal ball revealing future events. The response of the fictional US government, with a president “unwilling and woefully unequipped to make the rational, science-based decisions necessary” in “a country where science and forethought are allowed to be dirty words, where humanity’s greatest invention – the vaccine – is smeared and vilified by narcissistic, purposeful fools…” mirrors the response of the real USA now to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

This may not be a fairy tale, but it is a fantastic story, well-written. Don’t be surprised if a film adaptation crops up in the very near future.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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