Book Reviews · Fiction · Thriller

Book Review: ‘Survivor Song’ by Paul Tremblay

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Thank you @williammorrowbooks (partner) for my gifted copy of ‘Survivor Song‘ by Paul Tremblay! (pub date 7/7)

In a matter of weeks, Massachusetts has been overrun by an insidious rabies-like virus that is spread by saliva. But unlike rabies, the disease has a terrifyingly short incubation period of an hour or less. Those infected quickly lose their minds & are driven to bite & infect as many others as they can before they inevitably succumb. Hospitals are inundated with the sick & dying, & hysteria has taken hold. To try to limit its spread, the commonwealth is under quarantine & curfew. But society is breaking down & the government’s emergency protocols are faltering.

Dr. Ramola “Rams” Sherman, a soft-spoken pediatrician in her mid-thirties, receives a frantic phone call from Natalie, a friend who is 8 mos pregnant. Natalie’s husband has been killed—viciously attacked by an infected neighbor—& in a failed attempt to save him, Natalie, too, was bitten. Natalie’s only chance of survival is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible to receive a rabies vaccine. The clock is ticking for her & for her unborn child.

Natalie’s fight for life becomes a desperate odyssey as she & Rams make their way through a hostile landscape filled with dangers beyond their worst nightmares—terrifying, strange, & sometimes deadly challenges that push them to the brink..Paul Tremblay once again demonstrates his mastery in this chilling & all-too-plausible novel that will leave readers racing through the pages…& shake them to their core.

As far as the Co-Vid pandemic, I dislike everything about it. When it comes to books or movies about viruses making people cray-cray, SIGN ME UP! I loved movies like ‘Outbreak‘, ‘Contagion‘, ‘World War Z’, ‘Quarantine‘ & ‘The Crazies‘ & even Chris Pine’s 2009 movie (w/ a virus that originates in China [yep!]) called ‘Carriers‘.

Survivor Song‘ gave me vibes of all of the above & then some! I love that the protagonists are female (Nat & Rams) & the lengths Nat goes to in order to protect her friend. This is apocalyptic horror/thriller, with a heap of suspense, scoop of sci-fi, & a big ol’ cup of female friendship. ‘Survivor Song‘ is a fast-paced, heart-pounding, anxiety inducing, nail-biter of an entertaining as hell read! (If you are already experiencing a lot of CoVid anxiety, maybe save this one for another time…)

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QOTD: Who else is really into the virus/contagion/outbreak kinda books/movies? Hey, I learned a LOT from each of them!

What others are saying about ‘Survivor Song’:

“For the past few years, Paul Tremblay has been setting the standard for modern horror. His genius is that he never forgets the core of a great horror novel resides first in its characters. In Survivor Song, he revitalizes the zombie novel by keeping the focus narrow and intimate: two women, in the space of a few hours, just trying to get across town. The result is heartfelt and terrifying, in a narrative that moves like a bullet train.” (Nathan Ballingrud, author of North American Lake Monsters and Wounds)

“A cinematic scope, scenarios grounded in the real world, and a breathless pace make this thriller one of the must-read titles of the summer. A prescient, insidious horror novel that takes sheer terror to a whole new level.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“Fresh and surprising. Survivor Song may be one of Tremblay’s best – beautifully detailed, viscerally frightening, and deep with emotional resonance.” (Dan Chaon, New York Times bestselling author of Ill Will)

“Tremblay has earned worldwide acclaim because he is able to seamlessly combine reality with speculative elements, and his newest may be his most prescient yet. . . . Gorgeously written about terrible things, the relatively short Survivor Song is a good choice for fans of pandemic epics . . . and novels that probe themes of friendship, family, and social commentary amidst chillingly realistic horror.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Tremblay is an undeniably skillful writer. The sentences are lean where they need to be, decorative where they need to be. . . . He knows how to drive the story forward, while affording it a layer of linguistic color.”  (New York Times)

Survivor Song is a breathlessly compelling read, powerfully frightening and very moving – a nightmare that rings all too terribly true.” (Ramsey Campbell, author of The Wise Friend)

“The vividly drawn characters of Ramola and Natalie give the story an uncommon emotional intensity. This is genuinely hard to put down.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Gripping . . . a thinking person’s thriller, interspersed with moments of hilarity . . . a buzz-saw of a novel.”  (Los Angeles Times)

“A terrifyingly realistic take on the zombie trope. . .A fast-paced, gritty, emotionally wrenching thriller.” (Book and Film Globe)

“Survivor Song is a horror novel with a lot of heart; an engaging, immersive, touching, fast read that’s incredibly timely and packed with sharp observations. I would say it’s one of Tremblay’s best, but that is something most reviews say, so instead I’ll say this: Maine has its horror guy, and now Massachusetts has its guy.” (Vol 1Brooklyn)

Paul Tremblay has won the Bram Stoker, British Fantasy, and Massachusetts Book awards and is the author of Growing Things, The Cabin at the End of the World, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, A Head Full of Ghosts, and the crime novels The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland. His essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly online, and numerous year’s-best anthologies. He has a master’s degree in mathematics and lives outside Boston with his family.

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