Saturday, February 03, 2007
Blog Tour - Germ
"If you breathe, it will find you."
With a tag line like that, you know that you're in for quite a ride. This is the world that Robert Liparulo envisions in GERM, his latest novel. The latest book in the CFBA tour is quite the page-turner. I gave a sneak peek into GERM back in December, as it made my Top Six for Oh Six.
Liparulo explores the possibilities of "designer viruses" in this book. He sets up a tale of a vengeful biological weapons scientist, who manages to mutate the Ebola virus into a targeted killer that will only manifest with those who have certain DNA. If you don't, you just get a cold. If you are the unfortunate one, death will be merciful if it comes quickly via heart failure. Otherwise the torture of having internal organs liquify will be your fate.
Even though the book has a lot of biology in it, he wraps it around a slam bang action novel. You can't count on a protaganist always making it out alive! Despite the premise, the biological warfare takes somewhat of a backseat to the non-stop action. Being a biology major and a health care professional, that was slightly disappointing - but it didn't stop me from enjoying the whirlwind.
The plot is the standout point. As I said in my Top Six post, I started to skim a few pages when I got this and ended up disappearing for an hour to read. There is minimal down time. If suspense/thriller is your thing, you won't be disappointed.
He does a good job with the characterizations as well. Julia Matheson is a well-done protaganist, with doubts and strengths that show at key times in the book. Sometimes she gets introspective at interesting times, but this is a quibble. There is a subtle message of reconciliation and the value of sacrifice in here as well. It is too bad that this book gets sequestered in the Christian section at Barnes and Noble, because it would appeal broadly to any suspense fan.
My biggest (yet minor) criticism is the recurrent theme of the "super-assassin" that I've been seeing crop up in several Christian books. Sure, these guys have extrordinary skills that keep the pressure on the heroes, but it seems like a handy literary device that is being used a lot lately. Liparulo multiplies the effect in GERM (you have to read it to see!). Also, he seems to have a fascination with the mettalic taste/smell of blood. You'd think characters were bleeding pennies as much as the "copper" description is used. On that note, it is one of the bloodiest (if not the most) CBA books I've ever read. If battle damage is not your thing, then do think twice on reading it.
Overall a very entertaining and engrossing read. It combines real world fears in a thrill ride that will keep you turning the pages. For more great info, check out CJ Darlington's interview with the author, as well as others on the CFBA tour.