Liz and Johnny thought that they were safe–for the moment–from the new strain of the bubonic plague that the government said was confined to the south. But then their son begins to show symptoms of the plague. A call to the government health hotline leads to their home being boarded up and quarantined. Liz is forced to sit by helplessly as her son grows weaker, the other houses on her street are boarded up, and their connection to the outside world is severed. The only option for her family is to cope the best that they can with the epidemic.
The premise of this novella really drew me to the story. Locked room type thrillers set the reader on edge before they even start, and the use of the bubonic plague allows for a great bad guy without having to delve too much into the symptoms or results of a new plague. That part of the story, and the stress it puts on the family, is really effective for the number of pages.
With stories set in a single location like a house, the world outside it doesn’t matter as much and therefore doesn’t need as much detail to describe it. However Plague lacked much description of the setting both inside and out. There wasn’t much to help me picture the inside of the rooms apart from a few small details like the location of a chair at the window or creaky stairs. Likewise, the tension in the world outside the house is missing. Even when they are initially quarantined, Liz and Johnny have access to the internet. I think the author missed an opportunity to show online news articles or social media posts to fully engulf the reader in the world.
I also had a hard time connecting to the characters. Plague opens up with Nathan–Liz and Johnny’s son–showing the first symptoms of the plague. There are no flashbacks that show the uniqueness of their lives or their personalities. Liz is a worried mom and wife. Johnny is a worried father and husband. There isn’t much more to them than that. While I sympathized with them in their plight, I didn’t have any emotional ties to them.
This is a short novella, about 125 pages, so I think that may have played a role in the characters lacking depth. That also meant there were a few loose ends during the final pages that I think should have been addressed. The whole story felt two-dimensional.
This book would be a good read for someone looking for a quick, light read within the thriller genre.
Rating: two of five stars
Plague by Lisa Hinsley will be published as an eBook by Pocket Star and will be available for download on December 9, 2013.
*I received an advanced copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.