Cover Image: Among the Living

Among the Living

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Member Reviews

This story takes place on Hawkshead,an Island in the Arctic Ocean whose landscape is rapidly changing because of global warming. Dean and his team are there to illegally collect rare earth mineral samples from a cave system that was once covered in ice, but they end up finding more than they were looking for. Ancient drawings, mummified bodies, and a long dormant contagion that has a mind of its own. Bethan and her team are there to stop Deans team from mining the ancient cave systems, but soon realize they have wandered into something that none of them are equipped to handle, regardless they have to make sure the contagion doesn’t make it off the island because if they don’t it’ll be the end of humanity as we know it. Intense and atmospheric this cautionary tale makes you think really hard about what really being unearthed by our changing planet.
Highly recommended!

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Climate Change is a concept so large its sometimes hard to imagine all the ways this will change the world in the next few decades. Loss of agricultural land; shortening water resources and immense impact for life across the planet. We tend to think of Science Fiction as the genre for exploring the future but Horror also can highlight the dangers lying in wait that may just make us think about our actions. In Tim Lebbon’s dark, gory and racing novel Among The Living we have a unique set of characters racing to save the world from a new danger re-awakened.

In the late 21st century Dean works for a group of resource prospectors who go to places they perhaps should not; scout out the area for local geology and then sell details to the best bidders for mining. Near the Arctic is Hawkshead Island once covered in snow and ice but now thanks to climate change the land is changing as the Permafrost of the land melts. Geysers can suddenly erupt, sinkholes can widen and caves are being revealed to the eyes of humans for the first time. But Dean’s group finds that their cave may have paintings thousands of years old and further in they find straneg bodies all tied up together. Outside the cave three activist reporters are being led to the cave to expose the commerical operation going on. Bethan used to be Dean’s friend until an incident made them part ways but her arrival finds the prospect team have awakened something even more dangerous than anyone apart from their mentor Goyo ever anticipated.

This is a hugely entertaining and yet troubling read that neatly subverts what kind of horror tale we may have gotten. My initial feeling was we are going underground to find trouble but from the moment the two groups meet on the lip of this strange cave everything goes horribly wrong fast. Its a powerful shocking turn of events that fundamentally strange the nature of the tale. Lebbon expertly builds up the world and characters prior. The idea of permafrost melting is something I’d previously only associated with parts of Siberia but here we see a North American area and the landscape is powerfully weird and unsettled - land, water and air moving in strange ways as the characters remark as if the land is reawakened by the pollution.

The characters are uneasy allies in the face of the danger. Lebbon pulls back on the three key characters of Dean, Bethan and Goyo and they’re all interesting ones to root for. Dean is a conflicted soul - knowing what he does is not quite right but loves the tight team of prospectors he works with. Bethan knows the world needs to change but her actions a few years ago have warned her of the dangers of going too far. Dean and Bethan have a powerful friends who know each other so well that makes their scenes together work neatly. Goyo though while also an environmental campaigner is the most fascinating we see the tough life he had in the 21st century of our future but his key role to explain the hidden dangers. Brave, does what need doing and yet we know even this practical and strong character may not be enough.

Yes I may have been circumspect on the danger…but its a deliciously creepy idea that plays to fears that the 2020s have given us and yet adds in additional horrors of what may lurk under our feet and a more insidious fear about the people we may be near. Things go bad fast…very fast… and the unpredictability of the landscape makes the teams way back incredibly hard and filled with dnager natural or otherwide at every term. the speed picks up like a rocket and the dangers are heighteded. Goyo’s expamabtion of various events he knows about raises the stakes skillfully. This story is very much about everyone throwing themselves to the finish line but it may not end well for all of them. That we care about these people’s fates so much is a testament to the early parts of the story working well the horror gets heightened when we see the bad things happen to them and they’re all slightly out of their depth.

I really enjoyed Among The Living. It gives us a real danger of climate change but with added supernatural style additional dimensions to make things feel very dark and scary. I raced through it having a lot of fun but also disquiet as to what would happen in the final chapters. Its highly recommended for those seeking an intelligent scare!

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I was really excited about the premise of Among the Living, as I love lit-fic horror. But, after trying for months to get into this book, I think it's finally time to give up on it. The first part of the novel is quite dialogue-heavy, which doesn't make me feel attached to the characters. I would absolutely try more by this author, but this isn't the book for me.

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Among the Living delivers a chilling and atmospheric tale set in the unforgiving Arctic, where a group of miners unwittingly unleashes a terrifying contagion hidden for millennia. Led by Dean, they join forces with environmentalist Bethan and her team after the discovery turns deadly. Tim Lebbon's fast-paced narrative immerses readers in a gripping fight for survival against both nature's brutality and a nightmare-inducing threat. The evolving dynamics between characters, from rivals to allies, adds depth to the story, while the relevance of contagion post-pandemic amplifies its unsettling impact. With vivid descriptions and a relentless sense of danger, Among the Living is a riveting and terrifying read, showcasing Lebbon's skill in crafting gripping narratives that linger long after the last page.

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This sucked me in immediately. I do enjoy a story about ancient beings that can suddenly come alive and ruin existence, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one than Among the Living.

The mention of an Arctic island had me desperate to read this straight away, but it wasn't your typical Arctic misery plot, it had so much more to it.

I enjoyed the complexities of the characters, who to trust, who not to trust, is everyone lying?

Parts of this book really unsettled me, and it is rare that a horror book can reach that level for me. The story kept a good pace without skipping past any vital details. engrossing.

100% recommend!

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This novel was riveting. It is a slow burn horror that is worth the read. It starts a little slowly as the characters are introduced and the horror is woven into the narrative. Lennon did a good job of making me care for our protagonists. I was rooting for them. I also loved his portrayal of the horror they face. I give this a solid 4/5.

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Among the Living is an Eco-Horror novel from Tim Lebbon. I was so excited when I read the synopsis for this one, as we all know, there's nothing better than reading Arctic Horror in the Winter. I was super stoked to get into it.

This story is set in a very remote area of the Arctic Circle, specifically, on Hawkshead Island. We follow two groups of individuals. The first, a team of illegal miners who essentially exploit natural resources, is led by Dean. The second, a group of climate activists, who try to stop illegal activities such as those Dean and his team engage in. The activists are led by Bethan, an old friend of Dean's.

Dean and his team go to the island to explore a vast cave system. Their exploits lead to a horrific contagion being unleashed. This contagion has laid dormant for many millennia, but now that it's free, it's ready to wreck havoc. Bethan and her team, wanting to stop Dean and his associates from exploiting this rare and special environment, rush there to try to stop them. Spoiler alert: they're too late.

Dean, Bethan and their rivals teams are now on a survival mission from hell. They can't let this contagion escape the island. If they do, it could mean an end to life as we know it. But, hey, no pressure...

The concept of Among the Living is great. I love the idea of exploring what could happen if some sort of ancient contagion, or virus, is unleashed, either due to ice melt, or humans uncovering it from underground. I think it's such a horrifying idea. I actually think about it quite a bit. I was really excited to see Lebbon tackle that potentially species-destroying topic here.

Sadly, the execution left me feeling majorly underwhelmed. This is a good book. I know many Readers will enjoy it. For me though, I just couldn't care less about the characters, or their interpersonal issues. I was bored by them.

There were some extremely vivid horror scenes, where I feel like the horror imagery was very well presented. Those were the parts I enjoyed the most. They were a little few and far between for my tastes though. IMO, the beginning of this was the most exciting part, even though in terms of action, that definitely gets more amped up towards the end. It gets crazy!

What I enjoyed about the beginning though, and found most exciting, was the unknown. The anticipation of entering the cave, of what they found there and what it meant. Those aspects were so well done. I wish it could have carried that hauntingly-ominous tone throughout. Once Bethan and her crew came on the scene, however, it just felt that the interpersonal issues started to outshine the suspense and the horror.

Because of my fluctuations in interest, this book, coming in at just over 300-pages, took me almost 20-days to read. It just went so incredibly slow for me. With this being said, I understand this is 100% personal taste. It's nothing the author did wrong, it just wasn't a good fit for my tastes. Nevertheless, I can appreciate the creativity and the concept itself is absolutely terrifying.

I would recommend this for Readers who enjoy more Literary Horror, but also aren't afraid of a blood and gore. It is thought-provoking and could also work very well for Book Clubs, Group Reads, or Buddy Reads.

Thank you to the publisher, Titan Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am definitely interesting in reading more of this author's work.

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I’m a fan of the author and really enjoyed Among the Living. He’s one of the best horror writers of recent years so I wanted to read this book as I was interested in his take on the well-used zombie trope. This is an original take on a well-used horror plot. The contagion doesn’t exactly create zombies but there close enough for kissing. This is well-written, tense and quote frightening at times – everything you need in a good horror yarn.

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O.M.G that ending!

One of my favorite limited TV series is "Fortitude". I love that it's set in a small town in the Arctic Circle, a safe and quiet town until something was discovered. So when I read the synopsis of Among the Living, the plot reminded me of that tv show and I couldn't wait to read it!

Old friends meet again on thawing Hawkshead Island. Dean is with his team of rare mineral hunters, selling the location to the highest bidder. Bethan and her associates are environmental activists trying to stop them from exploring the island's cave system.

Too late. A member of Dean's team is "lost" in the cave or aren't they?

Among the Living is INTENSE! I love this type of sci-fi horror like Contagion meets Fortitude meets The Terror. This is my first novel by Tim Lebbon and I'll sure check out more of his works. Recommend you check it out if this genre interests you! 9/10 ~ 4.5⭐

Thank you Titan Books and Netgalley for the DRC.

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I adore horror and a lot of Tim Lebbon’s other work but being someone who is also rather concerned about climate change I was excited to dive into this one and I have to say I was not disappointed in the least. We get Lebbon’s mastery of horror from a new angle. A pseudo survival horror and best of all, because I love fungi in all it’s weird and wonderful forms, a sort of cordyceps fungi that is potentially going to infect the wider world.

Now I never go in for full or any spoilers if I can help it. So what I will say is the writing is fantastic and the pacing really brings home the urgency. The first couple of paragraphs easily set the scene, including the broken friendship between activists and those who would exploit the earth further for the minerals it can offer. This in itself was a good set up since we have two groups of people from different ethical and political view points who will potentially have to work together to get out alive. I will say I wasn’t particularly fond of any of the characters, besides Bethan and Goyo, but given this is an horror book I wasn’t planning to get attached anyway!

I did enjoy the survival aspect as well as the dangers. I also liked how this was ultimately left a little ambivalent to if the contagion was natural, a type of fauna or flora from eons ago or something more. Lebbon does a great job at creating a local tradition and folklore around the contagion as well. And that ending was perfect, even if it left me wanting more.
The final thing I liked about this is it did make you think. Yes this is fiction but could something like this be lurking frozen in permafrost and what could happen if or when it’s released. If you love horror and particularly eco-horror this is one you can’t miss.

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I loved The Last Storm, so I was looking forward forward to this one. I have to say, Tim writes a good apocalyptic story, this one being Zombie based.

It’s fast paced - it has to be! Frightening, a little bit gory, and generally a great read.

My thanks to Netgalley and Titan Books for the copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Every so often, I’m faced with reviewing a book that didn’t quite capture me, and I’m given a bit of a dilemma. Do I review the book and try to find something good to say about it — not wanting to incur the wrath of vengeful publicists who may stop the flow of books to me? Do I not review the book at all — thus impacting my Netgalley read-to-review ratio and potentially gumming up getting books from publishers to review in the future? What do I do? Well, we have now come to one of those books I’m not sure what to do with. Tim Lebbon’s Among the Living is, by most accounts, a trashy read (which is ironic as climate change and pollution play a part in this tale). However, I can say one thing and that this is a book that’s fun in a potato chip and popcorn munching way. It’s bad for you, but sometimes you want to indulge in nothing but a pint of ice cream in your pajamas, which this novel is the literary equivalent of. All in all, Among the Living is what you’d get if you merged the paranoia of John Carpenter’s The Thing with the bioterror of the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Given that two of the author’s previous novels have been turned into movies (and he has written his share of novelizations), I’m sure there’s a good chance that this book may soon be haunting your local multiplex. However, that doesn’t escape the fact that Among the Living is not going to win any literary awards. Still, I can say a charitable thing or two about it — at least, I hope so.

The novel — set in the not-too-far-off future — is about two former friends, Dean and Bethan, who both were climate activists who accidentally blew something up in Alaska, resulting in the deaths of frackers. (How either of them didn’t get arrested or what actually happened is never fully explained in this work, which is one of its many glaring shortcomings.) Dean has since joined the other side, and his team is now, six years later, on a remote Arctic island to measure the terrain for all sorts of valuable minerals. (Which ones are never explained, either.) When Dean’s team extracts some of these minerals to show to investors who would be interested in strip mining the whole island, they unleash some kind of superintelligent virus that turns people into zombie-like creatures before erupting in spores that then pass on the contagion to other people. Faster than you can say “outbreak,” Dean is reunited with Bethan — who is on the island to put a stop to Dean’s team’s activity’s (and how she knew they were there is never explained, either) — to kibosh this ancient biological terror that could be as old as thousands of millennia before it starts to spread and infect the island’s other residents. (And, thus, eventually wipe out the whole world.)

On the plus column, Among the Living features one of the most genuine depictions of failed friendships and platonic love between straight men and women I have ever read. It’s good to read a book (or even see in a movie, should one exist) where there’s a relationship between a man and a woman that is not romantic or sexual in any way. In that sense, the novel passes a variation on the reverse Bechdel test (as it features men who talk to other people — men and women both — about something other than a woman). Two, it’s a fun and fast read. That might sound like a backhanded criticism, but, you know, do I sometimes like to read a book where I can check my brain at the door and be lulled into a state of pure escapism? Oh, hell, yes! To that end, this book succeeds. Thirdly, I suppose this is as good a warning about climate change that can be read in a work of horror fiction. While Dean and his three other colleagues are responsible for releasing the virus, it is strongly suggested that it might have come to the surface eventually due to global warming and the subsequent melting of glacier ice and the expulsion of methane gasses thanks to the erosion of permafrost. Thus, the book is a bit of a warning wrapped up in its candy-coated genre trappings.

However, there are gaps of illogic and plot holes you could drive a Land Rover into. When a colleague of Bethan’s discovers the presence of the virus without being affected by it, he hops into his team’s vehicle and drives it into Dean’s team’s SUV — creating a fiery crash. Then, he decides that the team needs to head back to the nearest town to warn others. Had he not destroyed their teams’ vehicles, a two or three-day walk would have been a two-hour drive, tops. It’s logic like that which does this book in. The ending, too, while entertaining and satisfying, is not all that surprising and has been done better in either of the two movies I’ve alluded to earlier in this review. Therefore, Among the Living earns no special marks for being innovative. Still, once you realize that this is a novel that isn’t going to win a Pulitzer Prize, or even be on par with the worst of Stephen King’s novels, you might find yourself having a bit of fun with this book. You’ll groan at plot lapses and unintentional humour, you’ll gasp as another member of the combined group’s team bites the dust, and you’ll chew on your fingernails even if you can see what you think might happen coming from about, oh, a thousand miles away. Among the Living is not a great book, but it’s not an outright terrible one, either. It’s fun, it’s trashy, it’s entertaining. If that’s what you’re in the mood for, then by all means — dig in! However, if you’re looking for more substance, well, there are probably other books out there that might do the environmental angle more justice. That said, there’s enough here to warrant giving this a look if you just want to have a good-bad time with a book. It’s certainly one worth writing about, and I sincerely hope I haven’t drawn the ire of publicists here. After all, why talk about a book when it can prevent you from getting another one? To that end, I hope that readers of this will use this as a jumping-off point to have hard conversations with their conservative friends who deny climate change or perhaps, just maybe, go on to read something better.

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Ah, more reasons to fear climate change, for who knows what the frozen depths will unthaw for us. Nothing good, if you ask Mr. Lebbon. The premise is fairly straightforward: two groups of folks end up unearthing some messy stuff in the Arctic. The ramifications will not be good. This is why greed is no bueno. Ditto climate change.

Dean and his group are trying to find some kind of... idk, let's say Expensive Earth Junk™ for lack of a better term. Who cares, doesn't matter. Bethann and her group are trying to stop people like Dean's group from ruining all the things. This is how they find themselves together in this less-than-optimal situation. And, of course, Bethann and Dean have some Backstory, so you know that will be a thing.

This story is incredibly atmospheric, and I kept thinking what an amazing show or movie it would make. There is a lot of action, and very cool imagery that would be so fun to see on screen! Obviously, the stakes are high too- imagine the implications if some sort of millenia-old junk escaped, right? So that obviously kept me turning the pages! My only minor qualm is that I never felt that connected to Bethann or Dean? Like- we did get to know a decent amount about them, which was great! I just didn't get a huge feel for who they were deep down. But alas, that is often par for the course when people are trying to survive and save everyone!

Bottom Line: A very intense and atmospheric cautionary tale about what could be lurking under the ice!

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Among the Living
Thriller, Horror
Tim Lebbon

• ᴄʟɪᴍᴀᴛᴇ ᴄʜᴀɴɢᴇ • ʟᴇɢᴇɴᴅꜱ • ɪɴꜰᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ •

*Possible spoilers ahead*

I loved the Netflix adaptation of The Silence, so when I saw that this book was by the same author, I just had to read it.

The beginning was quite slow and struggled to get into the story but once I did, I was hooked.

The pacing throughout the rest of the book was ok but I found myself skimming the dense paragraphs that were just observations of the landscape or memories of relationships.

The creatures were described brilliantly and they felt so creepy and bizzare.

The characters were good and I liked the different POVs, especially once the character was infected and they started to be taken over. I felt sorry for Goyo because he did his best from the very beginning to stop Deadeye from spreading.

The ending was action packed and even up until the last 5% I was questioning whether Dean and Bethan were infected and just pretending or not.

I wish there were a few more pages though, just to see if anyone survived to spread the infection or if it died with the ship. I also wanted to know where the "beings" came from, why they were underground for so long etc.

*Thank you to @Netgalley, the author, and the publishers for providing this ARC. This is my own opinion and an honest review, which I am leaving voluntarily*

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AMONG THE LIVING is suffused with one of the most terrifying phenomena caused by climate change that I have ever read. The sheer implacability of the alterations in nature, their suddenness, the immense danger, and the inescapability, render the story frighteningly real and vivid. Then there is the very potential danger of global warming releasing viruses and bacteria frozen for multiple millennia, maintained in a kind of cryostasis maintained over geological eons.
After devouring this terror I may never sleep again.

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This was an interesting read, if only because it didn't quite go where I was expecting it to. I think I went into it expecting something along the lines of The Thing, and while that element was there, it was also...not? Let me be clear, that's not a bad thing (hehe) because it means that this book was fairly unique, but it also ended up being a little all over the place too. Not only was this a horror novel, but it was 100% an eco-horror novel (which I know some people will have absolutely no interest in). I didn't mind it, and while there were elements of it that felt very realistic there were other parts that were just too much, making it hard for me to fully lose myself in the story. Real quick I'll sketch out my basic likes an dislikes. I loved the uniqueness of it. At it's heart the idea isn't anything new, but there were things that Lebbon did that did make it feel fresh, and I applaud that. It was also a quick read, and I was curious to see how it all ended. I read it over two days, and I was certainly invested in seeing it through. I could also tell that the underlying idea as a whole (global warming causing unforeseen problems) is something obviously near and dear to the author's heart. I could feel it in his writing. As I stated above though, there were elements of this that I just couldn't fully accept, and thus took me out of the story. I think the main ones were how our 70+ year old character with severe burns and injuries kept pace with the spry younger characters over 30-ish miles, and the disease that was unleashed. It was just a little too out there for me to buy. I can see what the author was trying to accomplish, but I think it needed to be grounded a little more in reality (or it needed to be explained more so I could accept it). I feel like it also just happened so fast. That first chapter really should have been expanded upon to build that sense of dread, and then it was just one thing after the next so rapidly there was no time to create that terrifying atmosphere/urgency. All that being said it was still an enjoyable enough book. While I don't think I'll go so far as to write a shelf-talker for it I won't hesitate to recommend it to someone who comes in looking for a wintery horror novel. Lebbon certainly has a good imagination and can conjure up some decent scares, so I'll be interesting to see where he goes next.

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My thanks to Titan book's, Tim Lebbon and Netgalley for letting me read and review this ARC.

This was awesome!!!
I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked this book up. But, I love horror set in an harsh, ARCTIC, unforgiving landscape to begin with so I had a feeling that this would be up my alley.
This was action packed, environmental horror, from the start to it's panic inducing finale. I really like the characters, they felt real and i appreciated some insight to their backstories that may have led their motivations. The horror was written so well as well as some nauseating body horror, mixed in with folklore and adrenaline, made for a great reading experience. It was really hard to put this down and I will definitely be reading more of Tim Lebbon in the future. Pick this up on Feb 13th, it is a great read for new and older horror fans !

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I don't know how my eyes missed the HORROR part of this synopsis, but they did so I was a surprised at this book. The story jumped ahead at the start of each chapter which made me wonder if I missed something. Overall, the story was good but it just wasn't what I was looking for.

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A bunch of Arctic explorers uncover a terrifying new aggressive organism trapped underground and must stop it from escaping to civilisation while trying to work out who is infected. Yes, it’s a bold play by NYT bestseller Tim Lebbon to riff on The Thing so heavily, but he’s done what all canny authors do when reinventing an IP; he’s kept the core of what makes this kind of story brilliant (“Who’s infected?! That is gross! Massive explosion! I regret reading this over my lunch!” etc) while injecting a wholly new original idea into the mix.

The original idea here is climate change. The discoverers of this new nasty organism – and it is genuinely nasty, its idea of dispersal gross, the fungal nature of it disturbingly plausible (I won’t say more, but you won’t be taking a breath for a while, so I hope your lung capacity is excellent) – find it in an Arctic environment that is changing all around them. Climate change is wreaking havoc here; ice is melting and new plants and growths are popping up as the landscape collapses and transforms. This part is all true, and it’s this disturbing plausibility that lends a whole new sheen to the classic “Thing” trope. This is the Earth coming back to bite us, and it could really happen. Probably. I don’t know, I’m not a scientist, but I’ll be making faster progress on my apocalypse shelter, you can be sure of that.

Another edge this action horror has is that there is A LOT of action, making this a whirlwind from start to finish. From the moment the team of illegal profiteers seeking rare earth materials come across something very bad in the cave – forcing them to flee across the Arctic back to civilisation while attempting to work out who’s infected, all the while rubbing up against some environmental activists who would rather they never got back at all if that’s what it takes – it is set piece after set piece, never slowing down, never stopping. The combination of this whiplash narrative with the genuinely fascinating biology of the creature – I won’t give anything away but it is an organism just as terrifyingly effective as it is effectively terrifying – means that you are never bored as you juggle the mystery of what they are facing with a series of bombastic, increasingly large-scale action set pieces.

Character wise, it’s slightly less successful; the key relationship is an estranged friendship between one of the activists and one of the profiteers, and it’s a really nice idea to make this an entirely platonic one and focus on the nature of friendship and forgiveness, but it never quite worked for me, feeling a little lifeless and less interesting than all the biological puzzles and identity conundrums and things blowing up. But this slight disappointment is partly made up for by an enormously fun character in the shape of a grizzled, old, seemingly indestructible activist who comes across like if an aging and more enlightened James Bond joined Greenpeace.

Overall, this book is what you’d get if a fungal-obsessed Greta Thunberg directed The Thing. It’s a breakneck action horror that will keep you guessing as you reach for your Covid mask, and given its shortish length you have no choice but to remain in your armchair until you find out who is human and who is not. Great fun.

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Big thank you to Tim Lebbon and Titan Books for allowing me to read this Arc. My review will be posted Feb 1 on my Goodreads and Tiktok in accordance with the policy that the review be held until the publication month.

I love a good thriller/horror and especially one that touches on climate change. This was such a hot topic and interesting idea that had me hooked from the beginning. While I thoroughly enjoyed the idea, some parts did feel a bit slow and the pacing was not consistent. Additionally some of the character POV’s felt either forced or repetitive. I would have liked to see a bit more action spread throughout the story instead of congregating in the last couple characters. Overall though it was an enjoyable book with a great message! 3/5 stars for me.

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