A respite from the fantasy-like quality of reading imposed by my two challenges. So on to science fiction in the realm of epidemiology for a little more reality hashed into the fiction.
Author : Juris Jurjevics
First Publication Date : August 18, 2005 (Hardcover)
Publisher : Viking Adult
No. of Pages : 416
The Story :
Something has killed four prominent scientists at the Trudeau station, a marvel of a habitat built for the harsh environs of the Arctic. Top scientists around the world who had come to the station to study this inhospitable frontier, are at a loss to explain the gruesome deaths of their colleagues. The unknown “bug” leaves its victims with their pupils missing and their bodies horribly contorted from excruciating spasms.
As an answer to the station’s plea for help, top epidemiologist Dr. Jessica Hanley braves the perils of the Arctic in winter to discover the nature and cure for the new disease. No mean feat this, but on top of it, Dr. Hanley discovers a plan to sabotage her mission. She must protect her work to find the “bug” and its cure as quickly as possible.
The Review :
The Trudeau Vector is a biothriller with loads of fascinating trivia. It’s the trivia that thrills primarily over the formulaic plot. It seems the author didn’t think much of the story line and simply followed what worked in the past with others. He also does that “evil Russian” subplot to add to the thrill of the chase. Corny but then again your concentration isn’t riveted on this angle. It’s all on what malignant vector this author had cooked up.
What I think Jurjevics wanted to do was pack the book chock-full of info about the Arctic and epidemiology. It really isn’t tedious if you were interested in the premise of diseases and environments in the first place.
Take these little factoids:
“…Remember, viruses can’t really die. They are not alive; they can’t reproduce unless they have living cells to hijack and turn into virus factories. But toss the pieces of a virus in a test tube with living cells and it recombines, self-assembles, resurrects.” — p. 191
“Inuit can’t do milk. We don’t have the extra enzymes to process it…” —- p. 282
“…So what else is unusual about Inuit physiology, besides no body hair?”…” An extra artery near the heart. Supposed to keep us warm. We’re mostly right-handed, rarely left. And we have small hands…” — p.283
Some of you may want to know about the characters. Well, character building is mediocre at best but not bad; however, Jurjevics does not make it clear what his characters are thinking. For instance, the reader will be surprised why Dr. Hanley would suddenly feel like going to bed with one of the Trudeau scientists without a hint nor clue as to why she would. Perhaps, depth is not much of an issue where thrillers are concerned, as action pacing is of prime importance. In this, Jurjevics succeeds as the action unfolds in very good strides so that you do get engrossed in the novel.
For a debut novel, The Trudeau Vector is quite good and comes across as very well researched. On the premise that it is so, then I have learned new things. And I do love my fiction interspersed with hard facts.
However, I must say that the conclusion, about 5 pages toward the end, left me a bit unsatisfied as its resolution was somewhat anti-climactic. I guess I preferred a great bang of an ending to this one. But then, the conclusion was plausible. So not much complaint from me.
My Mark : Very Good