Cover Image: Plague

Plague

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It's all dark in my bedroom in my family home. Tucked up in my bed with my quilt over my head. Paperback Book open and then I turn my torch on............. The scene is all set! to scare myself to death! 
Well I was 12 when I first read Plague by Graham Masterton was one of the scariest books I read many years ago.. 

So when this book came available to read I jumped at the chance to go back to my memories of my childhood family home and live one of the most scariest memories. Sadly this book did not have this affect again, like it did when I was 12 However, I did enjoy it again.

I find it really good that authors and Publishers are re-publish old books that we have forgotten and to find new readers. 

Well done to both!

Big Thank you to Netgalley and Head Of Zeus for the arc of Plague.
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Plague is a re release of a book by Graham masterton which was originally published  in the 70s and although it is a bit dated in some of the dialogue and no longer PC as dictated to us by the namby pamby brigade it is still an interesting read and  perfecty timed to bring out a book about a mysterious  illness that ravages the population. There are parts where its a bit graphic but any one who has read Grahams  books will know that its what he excells at. There are a few holes in the plot but thats what our imagination is for. All in all it was good to revisit a classic.
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Masterton has written an exceptional book that is not only eerie in how it reflects our current social climate with the pandemic of COVID-19 hanging over our heads, but also gives us a keen insight into how things might be running behind the scenes which the average person is not privy to.

His characters are a realistic blend of dynamic and stick true to their roots in regards to how each of us would react in the case of being trapped in a city about to be set aflame. He artfully dangles moral dilemmas before us as the reader constantly asks themselves what they would do in his character's shoes. Who do you save? What does your survival mean to you? What will you do? Who do you protect?

If 2020 has done anything, it has seen itself reflected in these pages.
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I was kindly offered an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Given everything that is going on in our own current Covid-19 infested world, why not pick up a story that represents a very similar situation? The masochist in you, might even thank you.

Initially I thought this story was a bit bizarre, a bit hectic but then I realised that this book had in fact been published years ago, way before I was even born and things made a little bit more sense.

It has that old school horror feel about it, you know when things were actually scary, however this might have been scarier if we hadn't been living a similar nightmare for months. This story takes place at the start of the breakout and we get to see how people from different walks of life deal with it.

It skips about a bit between characters but things rather quickly come together, as the story moves along at a brisk pace between the beginning of the breakout of the plague and the ending. 
The ending is a bit of an annoyance, it just ends and I was left with more questions than answers. I would have loved for a bit more but it is, what it is.
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Apologies I presumed this was a recent release and not a book written in the 70’s so am not really interested in it,a very quick dnf
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‘Plague’ is a bio-thriller from 1977 that has been opportunistically republished to cash in on the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, that’s not the most offensive thing about it. It’s fun in a 70s disaster movie kind of a way, and even does a reasonable job of predicting some of the challenges society has faced in 2020, but it’s also plagued (geddit?) by pretty appalling sexism and racism. Sadly that’s often a risk with older horror novels and thrillers and to be honest I don’t always call it out, but I will in this case because it overwhelmed the book’s better qualities for me.
The book is set in Miami and New York and details an outbreak of plague (think proper medieval shizzle) that spreads up the east coast. The action is split, chapter by chapter, between the two locations. The Miami chapters focus on Dr Donald Petrie (who bizarrely is referred to as Dr Petrie throughout the book) as he identifies the virus and struggles with local officials to get the right action taken to prevent its spread. The New York parts detail the lives of a mix of characters in an upscale apartment building as they learn of the outbreak and nervously watch it creep up the coast towards them. There’s a nice disaster movie cast: an ageing, faded Hollywood star, a union leader, a brilliant but troubled scientist and so on.
Splitting the story across the two locations actually works really well, although the fact that all of the New Work neighbours end up having a direct connection to the plague stretched credibility a bit. It keeps things interesting though, and the plot rattles along nicely as events in Miami become more and more horrific and Petrie is forced to take drastic action to save himself and his girlfriend and daughter. He faces the classic hero’s dilemma of having to chose between his loved ones and the greater good. It’s hackneyed, but effective in this setting. 
The problem with the book is that it feels like the answer to the question: “Siri, show me a book written by a white guy in the 70s”. With one exception (a dutiful, self sacrificing nurse), the black characters are looters, rapists or just a faceless mob. There’s also a sub-plot about a right wing group spreading the idea that the plague is caused by the poor hygiene of black and Hispanic Americans. It’s uncomfortably unclear where the author actually stands on this point, and like much of the book it feels cyclical and unpleasant. 
Just as problematic is the treatment of female characters. Dr Petrie has a shrewish ex-wife, a girlfriend young enough to be his daughter and a busty secretary who flirts with him incessantly.At one point one of the most important women in the book defies her boyfriend and is immediately (and quite explicitly) gang-raped by a group of Hell’s Angels who turn up out of nowhere. It’s repellent and has even less place in 2020 than a publisher cashing in on the pandemic. 
If (and for me it was too big an if), you can ignore all that, this is a gripping, if silly read. There’s a definite appeal to reading books that somehow chime with out current reality, it’s just that whilst this one does an okay job on the medical emergency front, it is so tone deaf everywhere else.
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As per other reviews, I thought this was a new release.  Unfortunately, it was written in the 70s and it shows.  There was just something "off" with it that I couldn't put my finger on.  3 stars from me I'm afraid, but thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for a copy
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At first I thought this was a new book by an author whose previous horror novels I have enjoyed. However, it quickly became clear that this was in fact a novel I had already read some years ago, which was originally published in the 1970s, and had now been reissued - presumably because of the rise in popularity of pandemic fiction since Covid-19. 

While I can understand this is a savvy marketing ploy, it seems in poor taste given the continuing global impact of coronavirus. Nevertheless, nostalgia made me persist. 

"Plague" is the story of a sudden plague which ravages North America and decimates the human population, as told by our central protagonist, Dr Leonard Petrie. While the central story - that of a worldwide plague - is a compelling one, this is an underwhelming novel for many reasons, not least the fact that there isn't a single likeable character in the bunch. The main problem for me though was that there was no indication of when the novel is meant to be set - presumably so it doesn't put off the reader by making it seem dated. However the problem with that is that the reader assumes it is set in the present day, and in that context, a lot of the book makes absolutely no sense - for example the news outlets agree not to cover the pandemic at first so as not to spread panic, so no one knows that whole cities are burning and being looted. This makes sense if it was set in the 1970s when the book was originally published but proves confusing for the modern reader who can't understand why social media isn't ablaze with firsthand reports and mobile phone footage. The other issue is that there are frequent uses of racist phrasing - again these may not have been flagged back in the seventies but are absolutely unacceptable, and one wonders at the thinking of the publisher here - some revision to take out the racist language (which doesn't serve the plot whatsoever) at a bare minimum. 

I can't help but feel that re-releasing a very dated novel without comment or revision is a seedy tactic, one aimed at making the author and the publisher money on the back of a global health crisis. 

Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for providing me with a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I really enjoyed this book and will give it a huge thumbs up.  With a great story line and excellent main characters - I would highly recommend this book.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Head Of Zeus for the arc of Plague.


The Oceans are infested, the beaches are turning black the cities are reeking with the poisonous pollution. The whole eastern seaboard of the United States has been boarded off!! and in fact all those and whom to attempting to flee the contaminated zones will be shot!!!!

3 star read- read this during coronavirus pandemic, quick read,
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Not sure where to start with this one, probably firstly by saying that this book was originally published in 1977, and it shows.  I am old enough that I can vaguely remember the 70's, but was really quite shocked to be reminded how racist and sexist society was back then.  If you think things are bad now, this book is a reminder that we have actually come a long way.

So, if you are likely to be offended by the use of narrative that talks about "the blacks" (who are of course the ones doing the looting and hanging around on street corners),  or by every woman being seen as a sex object, then this might be best avoided.

However, it's not all bad.  The story itself is well paced and quite exciting in parts, particularly the second half.  It is also fascinating because it makes you realise how much things have changed.  The Twin Towers are still standing, people use corner phone boxes, and look up stuff in encyclopaedias - life before Google really existed!

Obviously, to read a book like this at this point in time you have to, like me, be a bit - well, strange.  While others try to forget about Covid-19, I lie in bed reading about a plague outbreak killing millions of people.  If you are daft enough to do as I did, you probably won't be put off by death, gore and rats, but if you are, be aware, particularly near the end, things get rather gruesome.

The main character is for the most part referred to "Dr Petrie" which creates a distance between him and the reader, so I never felt any affinity towards him or found him particularly likeable - however, his actions didn't help in this respect either.  In fact, none of the characters are particularly likeable, not that that really matters in this kind of book.

So, if you are triggered by racism, sexism, death, blood and guts,  this book is best avoided.  However, if you are curious about what might happen in a serious plague outbreak, or learning a bit more about what life was like in the very un-pc 70's, or just like a good old fast, gruesome easy read, give it a go!

Because I don't like reading book reviews that give away too much of a book's storyline, my reviews are always spoiler free, and reveal only my thoughts on my personal reading experience.  If you prefer more specific details on the storyline, please refer to the publisher's synopsis
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3.5 stars (rounded down)

I enjoyed this book.  It's the book form of a film summer blockbuster with someone like Dwayne Johnson or Bruce Willis.  You're really entertained, but know the story is a bit ridiculous and there are major plot holes.  Somehow though you are able to accept what you're told without question, and enjoy the guilty pleasure entertainment.

The first half of the book was better than the 2nd half.  It also didn't need the rats.

Reading in the context of the current pandemic was also interesting.  Disaster books and movies, like this book assume human behaviour will result in looting, and crime.  Instead some countries resulted in unrest, but when this happen it was mostly within democratic mechanisms eg protest
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Not my cup of tea. Even if the plot is gripping the language didn't age well and it shows its age.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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When an outbreak of a deadly disease wrecks havoc amongst the population, only a small number of people seem to be immune.
To stop the plague from spreading, the city is ordered to be burned.
Dr Petrie abandons his job at the hospital and instead takes his daughter and girlfriend on a journey in search of a safe place, but it quickly turns out that such a place doesn't exist any more.

I was really intrigued by the blurb, especially given what is happening in the world at present, but after reading it, I have mixed opinions.
Overall, it was a reasonably gripping story, but I found the racist references disturbing. There seemed to be something off about the writing, I couldn't put a finger on it until I realised it was written in 1977 so perhaps that explains it.
However, the action was fairly fast-paced and curiosity to find out what would happen propelled me to keep reading. Unfortunately, the ending was disappointing, it felt anti-climactic and didn't offer any closure whatsoever.
I was hesitating between 2 and 3 stars but decided on 3.
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An outbreak of deadly disease. No cure. Everyone who leaves the plague-zone must be shot...

At first the rules were simple: quarantine the city, and let the plague die. So men and women closed their doors, and lived in lockdown, fighting for survival against a disease as contagious and destructive as the Black Death. A disease for which there was no known cure.

But the plague did not die. And so, at lunchtime on a Friday afternoon, the President announces the new rules. Every American should take up arms to protect the disease-free zones. Anyone attempting to leave the plague-zone MUST be shot...

I absolutely love this author and was excited to read this book.
I was hooked from the first page. What I love about this author is that his writing always makes me feel a little uncomfortable and what with all that is going on in the world today this book made me feel a little Uncomfortable.
Great read, could not put it down.
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This book was originally published in 1977, and it really shows. There's casual references to Negros - not many, but they are there - and the male characters and narrators casually ogle every woman who walks past. One woman's nudity is described in great detail. Our hero, Dr Petrie, sleeps with a woman he barely knows, with his girlfriend and young daughter just one room away, just because she says she wants to. The female characters are universally plucky, glamorous or over sexed. (Except the seven year old; she has no discernible character.) And do we think the union's behaviour is likely?

The story itself is a bit questionable, as well. I can forgive the science, it was probably the most accurate knowledge available at the time. But some of the story decisions seem strange to me. The thing that really stands out is the rats. 
The rats enter an apartment building where everyone is locked behind security doors. Hours later, they have not left the building to eat any of the millions of bodies in the streets; they are still in the building, in such numbers that on opening a door a character is waist deep in them, and they haven't killed each other off either. I admit I'm not an expert on rats, but the city's only been dead a day. Is that really soon enough for them to have forgotten to be afraid of people?

There's a lot of subplots that don't really go anywhere. I guess they were meant to show the type of things the plague put an end to, but personally I didn't really find any of the characters engaging or likeable, so it didn't matter much. There's never any hint of what the rest of the world is doing; given the quick onset, quarantining every plane and boat should help, but since the plague was deliberately covered up at first, was that done in time? Did the plague hit Europe or anywhere else? There's no way to know. It's never mentioned even in passing.

As I mentioned, our hero is a doctor. A medical doctor, not a graduate. In a scene where he comforts a dying victim, he has a brief inner monologue along the lines of 'there could be bacteria on my hands now and there's simply nothing I can do about it.' It never seems to occur to him to - wash his hands. (I've checked with a family member who was around in the seventies. He confirms that this was a well known method for reducing transmission then.)

The ending is a whole other issue, of course, and I won't rant about it here; there's plenty of other reviews that will.

I've made this sound terrible, but it's not. The first part is very well written, given the issues above; it's fast paced, it's taut, it's hard to put down. Cracks start appearing later on. But there are several set pieces that are going to stay with me for a while, and I may even end up skim rereading.

All in all, it's not a complete waste of time, but it's not the best book I've read recently. Interesting to read as a prediction of current events.


Please note; there is quite well described sex, a lot of smoking, and a lot of deaths in this book, some much more disturbing than others.
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This is a great story, by an author I have enjoyed reading in the past. I had a huge problem with "Plague" however - there are too many questions at the end that will never be answered unless Graham Masterton writes a sequel. Since this book was first published in the 70s, that seems unlikely. Had I been reading a physical book, I would have been checking to see if the last few pages had been torn out. Readers should be warned that the language of some of the characters is distasteful, to say the least. Disappointing and unsatisfying at the end, but a gripping journey otherwise.
 
My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an advance copy to review. This review is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
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Who would be masochistic enough to read a horror story about a plague when the world is reeling with COVID? Yes, that would be, sigh. In my defence I thought it might be sci-fi or dystopian but by the end I realised I had unwittingly read a horror story. Although this was first published years ago it still reads well and can be pictured in the current context. It was engaging and well written.

Dr Leonard Petrie of Miami struggled very much with his conscience as he wrestled with the decision whether to stay and help in the overflowing hospital or to try and save his daughter. They, along with his 19 year old girlfriend, Adelaide, embark on a cross country marathon from Florida to New York in an effort to outrun the plague. He also has an idea about why certain people, including himself and his daughter may be immune. But can he make the perilous journey to Washington to brief the Federal health authorities?

It was a very bleak story. The plague progressed quickly and effective action was hampered, as usual by political and business interests. The book illustrates how most of us are only ever a couple of days away from bedlam if our institutions collapse and people let fear drive them. But to put it into perspective, the plague in this story makes COVID look like a runny nose. I enjoyed the book but found it a little too bleak. Many thanks to Netgalley, Head of Zeus publishing and Graham Masterton for providing me a copy to review.
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Seems like an appropriate book for these strange times .I did realize it was some what dated but it still reads well.I did enjoy reading it I think it is well worth a read.
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This book was first published in 1977, certain words were part of the language back then, but  it‘s 2020 and if a book is to be republished in 2020 then the language should be updated to reflect today’s society! 
‘...the two negroes were left by themselves...’
‘...the blacks....‘
Disgraceful! I won’t be reading any further and the publishers should have ensured it was updated if they are looking for reviews from 2020 readers!!!
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