Across the table, Ellie Colson’s bosses laughed what might be the last big laugh of their lives. She forgave them. They didn’t know they were joking about the end of the world.
She smiled thinly. Rawlings, her direct superior, chuckled and swabbed his puffy hand across the table, as if he were working at an imaginary water spot. Dr. Armen laughed and clutched his gut, as if he were afraid it might bounce away. Jesper Mason just smiled. Like Ellie, he hadn’t been introduced by rank – Rawlings hadn’t even mentioned which org he belonged to, which meant he was a field hand, and a useful one. She recognized him vaguely. Might have seen him around the stacks once or twice. Mason had told the joke, something about Spanish flu. Ellie hadn’t been listening. She’d been thinking about the transmission rate in Rawlings’ printout.
The laughter stopped. Conversation resumed. The room was bare and windowless but their voices carried no echo, dying in the small space like lost moths. It wasn’t that these men weren’t smart; they had enough degrees between them to paper a den. It wasn’t that they lacked dedication; she would soon prove herself least dedicated of any of them.
It was that they lacked imagination. (page 1)
These are the words that hooked me. Something about Robertson’s writing drew me into his post-apocalyptic chaos until the end, an ending I appreciated.
Why did Ellie risk her life to try to save Chip Billips? Well, as she saw it, she was already dead. In fact, both of them were already dead. Their bodies just hadn’t finished the process yet. The likelihood of escaping this surprising and terrifying new plague seemed highly unlikely. But why Chip? It certainly wasn’t because Chip lived in a convenient place.
New York, a city with a population of about 8.49 million people packed into an area measuring 468.90 sq miles (1,214 km²). Needing to chase down a person in a tight place like that makes for perfect post-apocalysm. Robertson paints both the atmosphere between Ellie and Chip and the atmosphere in the city as bleak, confused and fearful. With his magic, Robertson helped me believe in the plague’s progression and people’s reaction to it.
When authors like Robertson come along, I find it does not matter to me if snags turn up. Yet none did. I loved it.
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