Boglisch has crafted a compelling alternate reality with intriguing side characters, such as the morally compromised Antonio, and has layered aspects of the Covid pandemic into the narrative. “What are those masks for?” Maxwell wonders upon arrival at a bigger town, and a familiar sense of unease has settled on the population: Lex explains that the government “has been searching for the last few years to find a cure” before adding “Or at least, that is what we are told.” Boglisch’s epidemic has fantastical elements—violent “death throes” and sporadic infection time frames—but readers seeking an escape from real-world outbreaks won’t find that here.
Max and Karina are likable characters that are easy to root for, and at 188 pages, Epidemic is a quick read whose story keeps moving. Still, some plot points and character motivations, such as Lex’s, would have benefited from expansion, such as the children’s fear, as they leave Claremore, that they will be pursued, a suspenseful thread that gets dropped on the road. Overall, this is an interesting first installment in a new series with characters it is a pleasure to spend time with.
Takeaway: Readers who enjoy pandemic fiction and precocious children will find much to enjoy.
Great for fans of: Megan Crewe’s The Way We Fall, M.R. Carey’s The Book of Koli.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: B