(US and Canadian cover left, UK cover and title right)
Synopsys and Review:
*includes basic set up information to entice but does not disclose middle or ending of book*
Ann and Peter are separated and going through the process of getting a divorce. Peter has instigated the separation. It’s the “I love you but not in love with you” scenario. Ann is suffering from the inevitable repercussions of this, yet is mostly reconciled with the fact.
They have two healthy girls, one 8 and the other 13, to whom they are devoted. Ann dotes on them while teaching at a local elementary school. Peter is a veterinarian, turned head research professor at the local university. He is studying viral activity between humans and animals – mainly the avian flu.
Several massive bird die outs are reported locally and Peter is sent to investigate. The sites are visually devastating with thousands of dead birds. Shortly thereafter the US and the entire world go on alert for the virus H5N1. What was once a potential epidemic turns pandemic. People are told to isolate themselves and their families to prevent to spread of this deadly flu.
Due to some bad luck regarding logistics Peter is reluctantly welcomed to stay at Ann’s home with his gorgeous graduate assistant. As the pandemic develops and the local area is quarantined, the story progresses and we see the psychological aspects of each individual as the taken-for-granted social structures meltdown, and everyone struggles to survive psychologically and physically. As they are pushed to their limits, we see their “humanness”, as they are forced to deal with horrific events.
My Personal Thoughts:
This apocalyptic novel is an absolute page turner. It is something which could potentially happen, which makes the story poignant. I thought the characters felt real. I did not guess how it would end. It has just enough technical information to keep it feeling intellectual and enough emotional insight to make it heart wrenching; all the while considering what it means to be imperfect and human when faced with questionable survival.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in realistic apocalyptic scenarios and for readers who like a bit of science as well as internal conflict in their reading. I would define this as a woman’s science fiction book, not to say men would not enjoy it. I give The Things That Keep Us Here - 4 stars, perhaps more since the ARC copy I read understandably felt unfinished in parts.
I am excitedly looking forward to Carla’s next novel coming out in 2011. I believe the title is Invisible.
For more information regarding this book, the author Carla Buckley, and pre-purchasing information please link to the Preview of The Things That Keep us Here.