AWESOME book! Tells the story of a pandemic sweeping across the globe in today's world. What would happen if the bird flu (H5N1) breaks out and hits entirely too close to home. From isolation and quarantine to power outages to food shortages to looting, etc. Terrifying, really. The author does an excellent job in the details of the day to day life and frustrations of a family directly hit. Well done and I definitely recommend this one!
A good pandemic novel..., February 8, 2010
By Denise "DC" (Missouri, USA) - See all my reviews
I love an apocalyptic novel! Whether it be meteor strike, nuclear event, or medical meltdown - I'm your reader. For some reason, the stark portrayals of humans trying to survive against insurmountable odds always draws me in. This one did too!
The H5N1 virus (avian flu) strikes and the entire world is held hostage against the scourges of the disease. Of course it's winter (flu season IS in winter) and it's cold and the weather is bad -- which makes everything just enough worse to create an even bleaker picture. In this book, a family takes refuge in their home -- a mother and two daughters allow an estranged husband and his lab assistant in -- and events spiral out of control from there.
Peter is a veterinarian testing water samples after a teal duck die-off when the flu hits with a vengeance. He and his assistant, an exotic Egyptian woman, come back to his house to be with his ex wife Ann and their two daughters. There is the usual scramble for food and water -- supplies and gas. The power goes off. The days are long and cold and tedious -- you get the picture. Everything is about survival. Nothing else. Neighbors come outside but everyone keeps their distance. To each their own. No sharing, no partnering or working together. Everyone is suspect. People die. The very fiber of being human is tested. How far will a person go to protect his/her family? Others in need? Will anyone help?
This is a great viral pandemic novel and I enjoyed it. There were a few things that never got answered and the book lagged a bit with a bit too much detail at times. The ending seemed a bit rushed, but all in all -- read it an enjoy!
THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE answers the apocalyptic "what if?" with terrifying realism. Carla Buckley's debut novel draws us into Ann and Peter's minds and will keep you awake long into the night.
If Jodi Picoult wrote apocalyptic fiction, the result would probably be something like THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE. Carla Buckley draws her characters with remarkable attention and care. It's hard to imagine what people would do in such a scenario, but they would probably act something like Ann and Peter do: uncertainly straddling the border between the person they always were and the person they are forced to be, bad parts and all.
The story revolves pretty much solely around Ann and Peter's Midwestern home, and yet we catch a glimpse of a large number of secondary characters and smaller episodes that are the result of the pandemic. These episodes have Kate acting out against her family, unable (or unwilling) to understand the seriousness of the situation; Ann prioritizing the lives she can save and the limited risks she's willing to take for the sake of her family. The wide variety of characters in this novel make so that anyone can relate to or empathize with at least one person, thus making this book enthralling for everyone.
THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE is a remarkable story about the complexities of human nature in the face of an international disaster. If you're a fan of apocalyptic fiction, or if you appreciate well-written and interesting character-driven books, considering reading this one. It's worth your time and attention!
I have mixed feelings about this book. While it is the story of a pandemic that seems frighteningly plausible, it is told in a very personal and individual perspective of one family. The first half of the book is a family struggling with problems stemming from the loss of a very young son. The world changes around them and in the end it is a story of hope, strength and determination. But it is also a story of decisions, consequences, loss and sadness. It is haunting and left me with chills. I would never have the desire to read it again.
A Wonderful Return to Fiction
This book was a change of pace for me. I read non-fiction almost exclusively now, though I've had plenty of experience with fiction in my past. :)
There are already a few good reviews of the story, so I'll take this opportunity to complement this book and its author on some of the finer points that made this a real treat for me.
The short chapters made this book especially hard to put down. Gentle cliffhangers would be revisited after the focus shifted for some five or six pages and it was easy to keep up with multiple story lines.
The long-running mysteries of the book are treated perfectly. With one, I was anxious for tidbits of information in order to solve what I knew was being saved for the big reveal. In another, the signs were there all along, but they were so seamlessly interwoven into the story that I didn't even know the mystery existed until it was solved! A great touch.
The technique of introducing certain chapters with press releases really set the mood and added a definite sense of realism.
Finally, I'll list a few of the themes that Ms. Buckley explored to perfection: the bonds between a mother and her children, the accepted inconsistencies of many types of relationships and most notably, human (and inhumane and even non-human) nature in the face of varying degrees of adversity.
I highly recommend this book and await the opportunity to enjoy the author's second offering.