Title: The Pestilence
Author: Faisal Ansari
Genres: Dystopia | Fantasy | Paranormal | Religion | Science Fiction
Length: 269 pages | 4736 locations
When a mysterious electrical phenomenon occurs, a young man finds that he gained abilities which may help other people. Another man also gains a mysterious gift.
And now… The Pestilence is coming.
When I first began reading The Pestilence I had a bit of trouble immediately placing the story in space and time. I don’t think I had ever read a book placed in the Middle East (shame on me, I know), but I thought the characters sounded oddly American to me. And then I saw miles being mentioned while action took place in London, Paris and Palestine and it bugged me. Mistake perhaps, as the lack in punctuation when addressing a person and other few minor ones.
Then I figured out that action took place in modern-day and my impression was very good. For a time I actually wondered if I was reading fiction because it totally sounded like something that could be happening nowadays. I never thought it would be possible to make a fantasy story this contemporary – or vice versa. So one minute everything is all so realistic and then boom, a light phenomenon occurs and everything changes.
The narrative develops as a countdown to an even called The Pestilence, interspersed with interviews with BBC’s correspondent in the Middle East, as well as other information obtained in a very mysterious way – calls, emails, etc and even comments from the general public to the media reports, which brought yet more realism to the narrative.
I was a bit confused at times because the story would jump back and forth in time. Most times, it did not take me long to readjust and it gave sense to what was previously told. On the other hand, some days seemed to last a long time while I had the sense some others were skipped altogether, so I did have a bit of difficulty keeping track of time.
Still, most of the time The Pestilence was a fast paced thriller and I kept wanting to know what came next. There were a couple of occasions when I was a bit ticked off, particularly when a video of a certain event was mentioned at least three times, every single time described as if it were the first but I was always interested in seeing how the story would pan out and the suspense kept me on edge. The writing really was quite good.
Make no mistake, this novel approaches a lot of religious stuff, even though several characters are not religious, particularly the main one. If you cannot deal with it, don’t bother to pick the book up.
If you can, you should, because it is much more than that. I truly enjoyed the way some events developed and despite thinking there were many characters I enjoyed meeting them and though most were useful to the story in some way or the other.
I just did not know what to make of some of them and wished they had been developed better. Also, I was unsure of the way they dealt with the situation. In such a globalized age, where everything is exposed, and these events immediately were, I thought for sure they would attract more immediate attacks and/or government and private security institutions in a heartbeat. Not to mention the main religions would most definitely have a say. It was like everything was global but at the same it wasn’t, know what I mean?
At the very least they would want to stick the guy in a lab and perform all sorts of tests on him. But, again, the story is very Americanized, and we see a character telling everyone that in this time and place he would have to go willingly to have those tests done. Seriously? In the Middle East? I don’t know.
So then we meet the other guy, the philanthropist, whose agenda is never clear until the end. His purpose seems noble, although many disagree with them. How he deals with their disagreement is a clue to what comes later but I was still mindblown and to be honest a bit unsatisfied.
The ending was simply much too abrupt and not knowing what the heck was up with a couple of characters bugged the heck out of me. I did not know this would be book one of a series but still, I wish I had had more closure.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the novel. I just didn’t relate to the characters much and did not understand why they would react the way they did. I still can’t get over the absence of any reference to Mariam’s affair or the brother that Samuel brought back from the dead telling the family to end his life because of God had wanted to give him a second chance he would have. I was like… Seriously? Well then go back to your grave, you, you… Bah.
In the end, I enjoyed The Pestilence but found it lacking in some aspects, enough not to give it 5 stars. However, I still recommend it and I know it will stay with me for a while.
I would definitely read the next ones in the series, if only to know if I would get closure to the aspects I found lacking in this one.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Read from Nov 13 to Nov 23, 2015