The author very kindly sent me a review copy of this book at my request several weeks ago. I do need to apologize for how long it has taken to get around to finishing the book and doing the review. Sadly, I am woefully behind on reviews but am working feverishly to get caught up.
Overall, I enjoyed The Jakarta Pandemic. I felt it was a pretty realistic portrayal of a family’s experience during such a crisis. But, with that said, there are some flaws I need to note later in the review.
Alex Fletcher is an Iraqi war veteran who now works as a rep for a major pharmaceutical company. As the book begins, Alex is aware of growing flu outbreaks in several areas of the world. His employer, Biosphere, manufactures one of the leading vaccines that proves to be able to fight this illness. Alex has taken several measures to ensure the safety and well being of his family in the event of a disaster. They have extensive supplies set aside, such as weeks of food and water as well as several firearms. Alex and his wife, as well as their two children, live in a nice home in a well-to-do subdivision in Maine. True to life, they have neighbors they like and neighbors they don’t.
Early into the story, the flu begins to rage out of control in several areas of the country. Biosphere informs all of their reps to return all sample cases of the vaccine to the company for redistribution to government agencies. Alex decides to instead hand over his samples to a physician, hoping the medicine will be used to help folks in immediate need. He reserves several courses of medication for his family and close friends. Soon after this, he puts his family in “lock down” mode at home. Except in rare circumstance, they stay within the home at all times, subsisting on the extensive food stores they have.
Interestingly enough, the power as well as the Internet and cable TV rarely even flicker throughout the book. They are able to gain a lot of information on world events through websites and news broadcasts.
As the pandemic makes its way to and through Maine, several of the subdivision neighbors suffer the effects. A few perish from the illness. Alex and a couple of his close friends in the neighborhood do what they can to help the other residents. However, despite their best efforts, there are those within the neighborhood who believe perhaps they’d all be better served if Alex were to open his supply storage to everyone. A couple of these neighbors attempt to persuade Alex to share and share alike, which isn’t taken too well by the Fletchers.
As things go from bad to worse in the larger cities around them, the neighborhood finds itself being scouted by fleeing city dwellers and eventually a few of those folks take up residence in some of the now empty homes. One group in particular becomes quite a problem for everyone and after a short time, violence visits the neighborhood.
I found the book very slow at the start, putting it down several times as my interest waned. I felt Konkoly had a great story, if he’d just get around to it. But, by the same token, life itself during a pandemic if you’re holed up in your home will probably be rather boring so perhaps that was sort of the point?
Alex, his family, and his friends make mistakes along the way. I didn’t have a problem with that though as I felt it lent a level of realism to the story. People aren’t perfect and even those of us who have been “prepping” for years are going to miss things and make errors.
I feel the book would have been well served to have a thorough line edit done before publication. Countless times in the book, the verb tense changed mid-scene. While this is easily overlooked once you get used to it, I found it very jarring.
I did enjoy much of the dialogue in the book. I loved the bantering between Alex and his wife, as well as between a few of their friends in the neighborhood. I also felt several of the scenes came across as very realistic, both in actions and in motivations. Alex, in spite of his military experience and background, is very reluctant to get into physical altercations, even when perhaps he had every right to do so.
All in all, it is certainly worth the read. I’d readily recommend it to preppers looking for a non-zombie pandemic book. Pick it up on Amazon here.