• gwen

Review: Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

TW/CW: blood/gore, violence, loss of a spouse/loved one, animal deaths, and xenophobia


Synopsis: In a matter of weeks, Massachusetts has been overrun by an insidious rabies-like virus that is spread by saliva. But unlike rabies, the disease has a terrifyingly short incubation period of an hour or less. Those infected quickly lose their minds and are driven to bite and infect as many others as they can before they inevitably succumb. Hospitals are inundated with the sick and dying, and hysteria has taken hold. To try to limit its spread, the commonwealth is under quarantine and curfew. But society is breaking down and the government's emergency protocols are faltering.


Dr. Ramola "Rams" Sherman, a soft-spoken pediatrician in her mid-thirties, receives a frantic phone call from Natalie, a friend who is eight months pregnant. Natalie's husband has been killed—viciously attacked by an infected neighbor—and in a failed attempt to save him, Natalie, too, was bitten. Natalie's only chance of survival is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible to receive a rabies vaccine. The clock is ticking for her and for her unborn child.


Natalie’s fight for life becomes a desperate odyssey as she and Rams make their way through a hostile landscape filled with dangers beyond their worst nightmares—terrifying, strange, and sometimes deadly challenges that push them to the brink. 


Thoughts: If you want my spoiler thoughts as I was reading this novel check out this video.


It's no surprise if you follow me on any other social media outlet, but this was a huge disappointment. Another highly anticipated release that I pre-ordered and it let me down. The prelude had so much promise. I was invested from the first page and the vibes it was giving me felt so creepy and suspenseful. I really enjoyed it even though I wasn't necessarily scared. Then the actual story started with Part 1 and we were introduced to Ramola. The pacing slowed WAY down, but it was still highly readable and I quickly finished part 1. Even though the writing was fairly standard I couldn't help but feel like something was missing. The scary stuff, where was it? Sadly it wasn't there or anywhere.


Ramola's friend Natalie has been infected and she is heading to Ramola for help. They make their way to the hospital only to find out how crazy everything is and after a series of events they have to head to another location. I was truly hoping the story was going to focus more on the infected and resemble The Walking Dead. Instead it focuses on the friendship and watching someone you love slowly succumb to a deadly infection. Each part of the story, three in all, focuses on a different part of the journey for the two women. Part 1 is from Ramola's house to the first hospital, Part 2 is from the hospital to another clinic, and Part 3 is on a bus headed to another location which they never reach because they are kicked off the bus after the other passengers realize Natalie is infected.


I was hoping things were building up to the really good parts, the scary parts, the moment when I would feel bad for these women and the situation. That never happened. Instead I was bogged down with over description and lack of any connection or attachment to any of the characters. In Part 2 we meet two young men who insert themselves into Natalie and Ramola's journey and even then I just didn't care. The interlude following Part 2 barely made me sad because I never had time to get to know the teenagers. Part 3 was the shortest part of the book and is also where Tremblay inserted those intentionally blank segments that I believe added nothing to the plot or suspense of the story.


By the time I got to the scene at the abandoned house where Ramola had to take matters into her own hands I just didn't care and wanted it to be over whatever the outcome was going to be. The outcome? Meh. I think it would have been a stronger message if the opposite would have happened. It would have hit harder that's for sure. And the postlude of course thrusts us 10 years into the future and I JUST DIDN'T CARE, like at all. So yeah...


Rating: ★★