Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca

Posted on: May 12, 2014

I can honestly say this is one of my favorite reads thus far this year and easily ranks in my top 25 favorite disaster novels.  Yeah, it is that good.

Lilianna is a 16 year old high school student.  A few months prior to the story’s beginning, she experienced a rather traumatic experience, about which we are given bits and pieces of information as the book progresses.  One side effect of this experience is a compulsion to store food, water, and other supplies in the event of an emergency.  Lil also pays very close attention to the news, constantly watching for potential threats.  Her father is an editor for Infectious Diseases magazine and her mother works for an environmental watchdog outfit.

Early in the book, Lil’s mother heads overseas for business and, soon after, her father gets called out of town to cover a story about a new strain of the bird flu that has been cropping up here and there.  Dubbed the Blue Flu, it is found to be extremely contagious and exceptionally deadly.  It is called the Blue Flu due to the effect it has on the respiratory system, cutting off air and essentially suffocating victims.

Rather like many real world examples of flu pandemics, the very young and the very old are largely unaffected, while those in the prime of their lives are among the highest concentrations of victims.  This is just one of many examples throughout Pandemic where it is obvious the author has done her homework.

As the Blue Flu hits Lil’s hometown, she is witness to a rapid breakdown in social order.  Schools are quickly shut down, as are other businesses.  The police department is overwhelmed, with citizens finding response times of two or three days to many calls to 911.  Stores are wiped clean in rapid order and looters begin breaking into homes to find food and supplies.  Many homes are found to contain deceased flu victims.

As this is going on, Lil manages to keep in contact with her parents via phone calls and text messages, though communication does become spotty.  Having been given a credit card by her father to be used for emergencies, she is able to order food from online grocery stores, though as it turns out that’s only a short-term solution to a long-term problem.  As I’ve often said in my own books and other writings, all the supplies in the world will do you no good if someone else can take them from you.

Eventually, she makes contact with a few surviving members classmates and they begin to work together in teams to gather supplies and check on other survivors.  As it turns out, this group may very well be the only group of people actually trying to help one another in the town.

Throughout the book, the characters are very well written, with dialogue being spot on in every scene.  The reactions and motivations of the characters make perfect sense and ring true.

Pandemic is written for the young adult crowd.  As such, there is a bit of romantic tension between Lil and a couple of characters, one of whom is a former boyfriend and the other is a potential new one.  Again, given the age of the characters involved, this adds realism to the story.

All in all, Pandemic is a tremendous read.  It is fast paced, with the reader pulled along page by page.  There are books you read and enjoy and there are books you are disappointed when you reach the end.  Pandemic definitely falls into the latter category.

You can find Pandemic at all major booksellers, including here on Amazon.  Highly recommended!

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