I’ve been in an “apocolypse” phase in my reading lately. Although I have interspersed some things on natural healing, plant identification, essential oils, and a story about making it through the Depression, I’ve mostly been drawn to survivalist themes. Not long ago, I read Surviving the Fog by Stan Morris, which was interesting, and then the second in the Desperate Times trilogy, which I also enjoyed.
Nearly back to back, I read three novels by Jacqueline Druga, two of which were flu scenarios and the other was post-nuclear war. I found Ms. Druga’s stories to be very suspenseful and the nuclear war one to be somewhat instructive, too. The characters were interesting and there was plenty of conflict to heighten the interest.
This story was told from the point of view of a doctor who was at the center of a flu epidemic, but personally unafflicted. There is some government conspiracy, coercion for the greater good, and there are zombies to boot.
This novel is about a group of retreat members who all try to assemble at the rendezvous point in the weeks after a nuclear war. The cast of characters seems like they would be unlikely members of the same group, but there is room for lots of interesting conflict because of the volatile and diverse temperaments. The leaders have some hard choices to make and there are lots of radiation illnesses to address. This is also one of the few apocalyptic novels I ever remember reading which included a small child and all the considerations that have to be made. Caring for children in major disaster would be a serious issue and I think she did a good job incorporating that. In addition, the characters voice aloud to each other tips that could be helpful to the reader- like how long to stay underground, excavating garden dirt down to a certain number of inches before planting again, etc.
This was probably the most compelling story of the three to me. It was an entirely different scenario than the previous flu novel, though I’m not sure the order in which she wrote them. In this story, one small town in Ohio is somehow unaffected by the pandemic which is sweeping the world. They take drastic steps to try to keep it out. Saying any more would spoil the story, but it was a page-turner.
The Overall Reviews
One the one hand, I appreciated the storylines in each case and found them worth reading from the standpoint of giving me things to think about and plan for.
On the other hand, I am hesitant to “recommend” them to anyone for a couple reasons. I may just be more sensitive than the average reader and these things may not bother you, but I feel I ought to mention them in the name of full disclosure.
- The language is atrocious, especially in the second two I listed. There was hardly any dialogue that was not laced with gratuitous expletives, and often in front of the children characters.
- It seemed to me that someone along the way told Ms. Druga that you can’t sell novels without smut. The Flu especially has completely unnecessary (and unwanted, in my case) plot elements of pornography, adultery, and other sexual sin. In one case, there is an abrupt switch from one group of characters to a pair of men in the midst of practicing homosexuality. To my mind, it was graphic and done for political correctness or shock value, I’m not sure which. It had no relevance to the story. I think all the stories would have been better if not tainted with these extraneous elements.
Any other novels I should put on my list to read? Please mention them in the comments section. I am always looking for good reads.