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Plague Land by Alex Scarrow

Leon and his younger sister Grace have just moved to London from New York when news of an unidentified plague begins to fill the news.

Within a week the virus hits London. People in the streets turn to liquid before their eyes, and what follows is a frantic hunt for a safety which may no longer exist.

For the Alex Scarrow fans amongst you, a quick internet search reveals that Plague Land was previously published under the title ReMade. Just thought you should know before you decide if you want to read any further.

Leon and Grace are in a difficult place in their lives. They’ve moved from one side of the planet to the other after their parents’divorce. A new country and a new beginning is going to be hard whatever age you are, but especially so if you are still a teen. Everything is just so different from what both of them are used to. Britain isn’t America, and Leon is finding it particularly hard to adjust. Any chance of starting again disappears with a frantic transatlantic phone call from their father.

Leon and Grace are at either end of the teenage spectrum. Leon is nearly, but not quite, an adult and is driven to introspection and worry. Grace meanwhile, is still young enough to be relatively care-free. When they find themselves in a situation where you either react immediately or die, you start to get a real measure of both characters and what they mean to one another. Grace becomes the reason for Leon to keep going even in their darkest moments. He becomes Grace’s de-facto guardian.

There is something horribly icky about Plague Land. I’m sure your hardened horror fans will scoff but I think the quota of body horror is just right. One of my favourite horror novels is Bloody Crazy by Simon Clark, and Plague Land captures a similar tone. Seeing the world fall apart through the eyes of children seems to make every action and reaction that much more horrific. The virus swiftly breaks victims down to their components parts. As a good percentage of the human body is made of water, this unsurprisingly turns out to be quite the gloopy experience. There are two scenes in particular that left a very distinct impression. I’ll provide no further detail. You’ll know when you get there. Nasty, doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I think the thing that I found most engrossing about this story is the swiftness of humanity’s collapse. Within a matter of days, the virus has traversed the globe. Interspersed throughout the main narrative there are short chapters that follow the plagues journey, and they are perfectly executed. People are literally coming apart at the seams minutes after exposure. As the sickness jumps from victim to victim, there is no option but try to run. Based on my physical fitness, spatial awareness and total lack of spotting the obvious, I reckon I would be a small puddle of brownish red liquid within the first twenty minutes [optimistic! – Ed.]. I’d probably run the wrong way and that would be it done. There are some tantalising details about the plague’s origin but not everything is revealed.  There is a sequel set to follow which is good news as there are plenty of questions still left unanswered. I look forward to reading it when it arrives.

I thoroughly enjoyed Plague Land. I was so engrossed (and grossed out) that I rattled through the entire novel in a couple of sittings. If you enjoy viewing your apocalypses from ground level, and can appreciate any story that places ordinary people in extra-ordinary situations, then this is the novel for you.

Plague Land is published by Sourcebooks and is available from 5th December.

Plague Land (Remade)

New From: £6.99 GBP In Stock
Release date December 5, 2017.

2 Responses to Plague Land by Alex Scarrow

  • russell1200 says:

    Katherine Amt Hanna’s Breakdown had a similar US to UK transit, but the protagonist is a bit older and its occurring (with flashbacks) after the situation has stabilized. He has returned to England to look for the remnants of his family. I recall thinking it was pretty good.

  • pablocheesecake says:

    Thanks for the recommendation. Sounds exactly like the sort of thing I love to read.

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