Containment – Review

“When it comes to contagious diseases, it’s a pretty small world.”

I knew by the synopsis that this book was going to be a terrifying ride. I knew going in, and yet somehow I was still unprepared for the terror this book brought!

Mariah Rossi studies viruses and works to make sure that in the event of a breakout, it can be easily and quickly contained. Curt Kennedy, scientist and covert CIA agent, also works to ensure containment of outbreaks. But when a lethal virus begins to kill people outside of Philadelphia, time is not on their side. They need to work together to figure out what this virus is, and how it can be contained.

Told from multiple perspectives, we get to watch this terrifying virus reveal itself. We see it through Mariah and Curt’s eyes, but also Doctor Vector, the terrorist developing the virus to be even deadlier than it was originally. Using ticks as its carrier. While the outbreak is happening in Philadelphia, the conspiracy that unleashed it ends up taking Curt and Mariah all over the globe as they race to stop Doctor Vector from releasing havoc onto the world.

“Doctor Vector smiled. Soon his soldiers would be ready for battle.”

The twists and turns this book takes you on are as exhilarating as a roller-coaster. The plot builds and builds, and just when you think you have a grasp on what’s happening, the floor plunges from out beneath you. Over and over again, until your heart is pounding in your ears and you’re breathless with the intensity of it all. There were twists I never would have guessed that completely blind-sided me. And yet, each turn the plot took, each twist that presented itself, all made sense in a very real-world setting. Which made the entire thing even more chilling than if it remained in the realm of fiction.

Most thrillers and suspense novels borrow from real life. They take a ‘what if’ and explore the dark underbelly of possibility. What could happen? And even though we know these things could happen, we take comfort in knowing they probably won’t.

With Containment, the details hit a little too close to home. They unravel with breathtaking speed, and every event makes your stomach queasy. Even more disconcerting is finding out that the author has studied and lectured on these exact topics. The book is fiction, but the ideas within the pages are all too real. As you read you can hear the reality a little too clearly.

There is a lot of “shop talk” within these pages. A credit to the strength of writing and story-telling of Parker in how he manages to make them seem natural to the reader. There is a glossary in the back, but I never felt the need to look up a term or felt confused in reading. He doesn’t work it into the dialogue, or place an awkward technical explanation in the writing, he simply is able to describe what he means without dumbing it down or calling it out. By the time I reached the glossary, I realized that how elegant these work-ins were. I didn’t even realize I needed a glossary.

It’s strange to think, but most plots, whether fictional or real life, truly only impact a small number of people. A person gets murdered, and while the effect on their friends and family is deep and profound, the tragedy is contained. Part of what makes Containment so bone-chilling, is the sheer idea of how many people can be impacted. A virus can kill millions in the blink of an eye. People, wildlife, pets, infected and killed, sometimes within hours or even days. The sheer volume of casualty is shocking, and the speed in which it can occur even more horrifying.

The title eludes to more than simply finding and stopping a virus. Containment zones need to be put into place, and the extent of those zones will vary by threat. It was chilling to read how quickly you could lose your rights in the event of a tragedy or emergency. How fast law-abiding citizens turn rogue as fear and panic set in. How little control we end up having in the face of disaster. The idea of containing not just the virus, but the fallout as well. I love a title that has multiple layers of meaning hidden within it.

I will caution sensitive readers going into this book. While there isn’t graphic violence, there are disturbing ideas discussed and presented. Parker doesn’t shy away from giving a direct understanding of what lethal viruses would look like in a human and animals, which is unpleasant to read about. There is a trigger scene involving a sexual assault. Again, nothing graphic or explicit, but the detail is realistic and can be disturbing.

This book is a thriller in the most strict of definitions. I found myself having to put it down and breathe through my unease. It is realistic and terrifying. Like any thrill ride, you’ll put the book down feeling shaky; adrenaline having spiked through your muscles leaving you exhilarated and shocked, but stronger for surviving the ride.

Thank you Touchstone Books for sending me a copy to read and review!

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