Contagion by Erin Bowman

Contagion (Contagion, #1)Contagion by Erin Bowman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Survival thriller with possibly promising sequel.

I rate it 3.5-ish, but rounded it up simply because I will actually be looking forward to see where the next book goes.

I must say, this books gets better towards the end, and not because you might think (not because that’s where the real action in this kind of books begins to happen).
Unfortunately, I almost missed it, because I had a lot of trouble getting through the first half, and here’s why:
1) “A bunch of screw-ups and kids-who-don’t-deserve-it get thrown into a deadly dangerous situation without responsible adult supervision. Who do you think will survive, if anyone?’ is how it reads for the whole first half, and I kept thinking “well, isn’t it ironic that this book tries to make fun of stupid horror movie stories and then basically follows in their steps”? Enter a dozen of unbelievably stupid decisions that are likely to make a few of less tolerant people close this book forever.
2) The writing is inconsistent at best. Sometimes it bordered on the ‘okay, yeah, fine’, with an occasional sentence making my editing fingers and eyebrows twitch, and sometimes it fell entirely into the field of ‘someone really should have edited this a few more times before getting it out…’. It’s the odd word and phrase choices that don’t really fit and ruin immersion, it’s the fact that the interludes feel like they weren’t thought through enough to feel organic… It was simply speaking… too rough to be read smoothly, and it irritated me a lot.
3) More even than the surface lack of polish in writing, it really bothered me how this book treats character development descriptions. It tries to raise some issues and give its characters interesting back stories, but it kind of fails to do a good job of it – it fails to do it organically. It chews on everything extensively, explaining what people feel and why exactly, instead of showing it. Ideally, a book is supposed make its reader aware of a character’s ‘issues’ without actually spelling them out in a way that gets you thinking ‘does it really make sense that this person is aware of all their inner issues and actually name them to themselves, yet still behave the way they do…?’.
In short, it does this thing where, for the most of the story, instead of letting readers pick up on things on their own, it says ‘here, I’ll spell every psychological issue out for you, name it and explain every little thing, like you’re too stupid to understand on your own’. It tries to employ interesting issues, but pretty much fails to present them correctly.

It’s hard to talk about this genre without much spoilers. So I’ll probably leave it here.
Overall, while some of the story decisions I find questionable, it gets actually interesting enough to make you want to read the sequel, even if only out of curiosity, and that is what matters.

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