My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I received an ARC to read and review. Holy crap, I’m so glad that I was able to experience this.
To be honest, if it wasn’t for my recent fascination for end of the world stories I probably wouldn’t have spared a glance at this. There’s too much 12-21-2012 stuff going on and this has been something that has been used to death. My sort of apocalyptic story involves nuclear wars, strange natural disasters, and devastating diseases, but one glance at the title just made me feel as if this was going to be another one of those terrible stories where superstition kills everyone or where everyone decides to commit suicide. Now after reading the book I really regret not reading it before the release date and waiting until now (ARCs are supposed to be for advanced reviews after all). Truthfully it’s not all my fault. My life seemed to have decided to take away all my extra reading time. I spent most of the last month trying to play catchup with all the stuff that higher education entails.
Can I say that my mind was absolutely blown? I got hooked on the first chapter. The story is not at all what I expected it to be and it is very carefully researched. Of course, Mr. Thomason might have taken some liberties, but since I’m a biology major I absolutely know when good research has been used (after reading the afterword I realized that Mr. Thomason had gone to medical school, but of course he did since the material is way too vivid for a random person to have researched all by himself). I also loved being able to connect my various bits of knowledge about ancient central American cultures to what was presented about the Mayans in the book. The book posed a lot of interesting tidbits and you almost spend as much time learning and you do being drawn into this fantasy world.
I would like to take the time to say that I misjudged the book and it is not about everyone committing suicide even though the book does make a nod toward 12-21 fanatics. It’s about FFI, a protein disease (you can read more about it in the book). It starts spreading through the world and through a series of coincidences (or is it fate?) our main characters meet and get swept around trying to race against the fatal prion disease. Phew. There’s plenty of action and mystery for everyone. It even goes all meta on me and did one of those things about: it’s about you, it’s about me, it’s about all of us. Quite clever and not annoying at all like some authors who try to do meta tend to be.
Spoiler: Someone wrote something about how the book was awesome until the cannibalism popped up. Oh please, your’e talking about an apocalyptic book and you’re squeamish about that? I feel like it’s what made this book really distinctive! However, I understand that some of the more confusing and scientific parts of the book might put people off. Especially those who might not have taken upper level biology. I encourage everyone to just trudge through it if you don’t like that stuff because the rest of the story is really excellent. Sometimes I thought I had everything figured out, but then I really didn’t. Love it.