THEY THOUGHT IT WAS DEAD. THEY WERE WRONG. Two years ago, a virus hit London, killing thousands of people and driving the ...

Review || Plague Land Reborn by Alex Scarrow


Two years ago, a virus hit London, killing thousands of people and driving the rest into hiding. But Leon has somehow survived, making it through two harsh winters. Now he’s living on the fragile hope that the freezing snow and ice of the English climate wiped out the virus for good. Word even reaches Leon of a rescue boat on its way.

But all is not as safe as it seems. The virus has been busy…

I love when I read a book that makes me take a couple of days to process it before I post a review. Plague Land Reborn is definitely one of those books. It sounds like your typical viral post-apocalyptic stories. Yes, there is a virus. Yes, it decimated the population. Yes, there are survivors. That's where the similarities end. If I had to explain this book, it would be somewhere between "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", John Carpenter's "The Thing" and the Borg of Star Trek. Oh, and the Garthim of The Dark Crystal.

Intrigued? You should be. 

We find out from flashbacks that Leon, his mother, and sister, Grace, were on a train fleeing London at the advice of his father, Tom when the virus hits. This virus is not like any other. You don't get enlarged lymph nodes like bubonic plague. You don't bleed like Ebola. No, this virus melts people. Immediately and horrifically.

"The man pulled some flesh away from his hand. It came off far too easily like slow-cooked beef. Blood streamed down his forearm; a tendon hung from the ones of his hand in a tired, swinging loop."
Yeaaaaa. Grab your cast iron stomachs. This story is gruesome.

Reborn now follows Leon and fellow survivor Freya as they traverse this new cold, bleak world following the hope of a radio transmission broadcasting that help will soon be coming. We also jump back and forth to Tom, Leon's dad, and his experiences a continent away. 

I found a few things about the choice of the MC's very unique. 1- They are teenagers on their own. 2- Freya has MS. She relies on a cane to help her mobility. That was extremely surprising to me as you don't find many physically handicapped protagonists, especially in apocalyptic scenarios when it is so often lauded as the survival of the fittest.  I applaud the author for that decision. Not every MC has to be physically fit and mentally cunning. 

The presentation of the virus itself was unequaled as well. Only those who were on some form of medication present as immune to the virus. Those who weren't, well, we know what happened to them. Not only does it precipitate people to oozingly melt like a bloody, macabre Wicked Witch, but it creates and births monsters: crablike, scuttling creatures with serrated pincers, that not only attack but seem to be able to learn and adapt as the story progresses. Strange root systems, like branches of trees, start growing underground everywhere but what they are doing is anyone's guess. It's also learning to create human and animal simulacrums. At first, easy to differentiate from humans, it's also learning from its mistakes and soon no one can tell which is the real person and which is monster made.  

The part that I think makes this book the most unique is that we are able to get inside the head of the virus as well. It turns out that the virus is assimilating everyone into this vast network like a supercomputer. Everyone that has been engulfed by the virus still exists there and are connected. The virus insists that everyone is still there...memories, personalities, all there. It feels sympathy for all those yet unchanged because they are alone, disconnected and adrift and when they die, they are simply gone as if they never existed. While it understands that the change is painful and difficult, it feels like those untouched simply don't yet understand what they are missing out on. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Likable yet somewhat flawed MC's, a fast-paced adventure, and gory and repugnant descriptive horror all make Plague Land Reborn into a great midnight read for young adult and young-at-heart readers. There is some strong language so reader beware.

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About the Author

Alex Scarrow

I live in Norwich with my wife, Frances, my son, Jake a very spirited little dog called Max. I spent the first 10 years out of college in the music business chasing record deals and the next 12 years in the computer games business as a graphic artist and eventually a games designer. For those of you who like their computer games, here's some of the titles I've worked on:
Waterworld, Evolva, The Thing, Spartan, Gates of Troy, Legion Arena. In 2005 I got my first book deal with Orion, writing adult thrillers. And in 2009 I signed up with Puffin to write the TimeRiders series.