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What do you think of The Seneca Scourge? Any favorite characters or favorite quotes?
I found this book to be refreshingly exciting and original. Even at over 600 pages on my Nook, I actually read it in 3 days. I think it is quite the page turner. I am really impressed with the way the story keeps going and keeps staying exciting.
I feel like it can be hard to make great genre bending stories, but I think Carrie Rubin did it with this book. I loved the first third or so of this book but I would never have predicted the rest of it -- which I also love -- coming from that first part. Somehow the transition from apocalyptic medical book to sci-fi seemed smooth and kept the excitement and suspense going. Perhaps the fact that our protagonist is so constantly sleep-deprived and overwhelmed and physically exhausted from work creates a surreal feeling from the get-go that makes the earth-shattering and then later sci-fi events in the story come off naturally and thus in a way that much more potently. What do you think?
I also like the way the relationship between Sydney and Casper played out. He was portrayed through a great deal of the story as the villain. It's not uncommon for the love interest to first be introduced as a threatening dangerous bad-boy (vampire in Twilight?) but I believe usually the fact that that person is to be the love interest is made clear quite shortly. I really love the way Casper slowly yet dramatically transitions from enemy to love interest and much like with the overall genre-bending transitions I think that it is done superbly.
I also like the ending. I think it is hard to please me with an ending because the more I like a story and the more invested I am in the characters and questions, the more I hate for it to end. Good endings are just hard to do. I like the way this ending wraps up the story and gives it some finality especially from the perspective of the couple, but then gives us that intriguing man-walking-into-the-sunset type of ending that gives the feeling of a new story for these people just beginning which is a great way to leave off.
Coincidentally, I had a mild cold when I read this book which made it strike close to home in a big way.
Anyway, again what do you all think? Feel free to post reply to this topic or to start your own new topic about the book in the book's special subforum.
"Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco." Virgil, The Aeneid
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I found two quotes especially poignant and thought provoking:
"Maybe some of the best decisions were made in the blink of an eye, the kind that allowed no time for egos or self serving outcomes. The kind that forced people to do what was right."
"Hasn't everyone at some point wondered how they would react if the moment was upon them? Would they run out in the street or stay back? Leap in front of the bullet or retreat? Dash into the building or head for the hills?"
I identified very much with Sidney when she was asking herself these questions.
What the book left me thinking about was what I would have done if I were in Casper's place. Carrie Rubin made a point to have Casper mention that he really didn't have anything he was concerned about leaving behind in his time, which made his giving up everything to save our current society a believable choice. However, what if you did have a family, friends, and life waiting for you back in your own time. But on the other hand knew you had the ability to save millions of people? I think many people might be willing to give up their own life in order to save others, but what if that choice also meant that your friends and family would never even exist? Would you really be able to sacrifice your entire world in order to save someone else's world? But then again, if it changes things so that they never exist at all, are you actually sacrificing them? It keeps my head spinning in circles thinking about it!
Like a few others on this forum, I was particularly intrigued by a recurring theme in the book of having to make a sacrifice or take a risk in order to help others. For example, once the outbreak is known, Sydney and the other medical professionals have to choose whether to stay on at the hospital risking exposure to a deadly virus on a daily basis, or abandon it all and hide out hoping to escape harm. Later, Casper has to choose whether to risk all that he knows from his own time to save those in the present. This really got me thinking about these ideas of personal sacrifice and risk. What would I be willing to give up in order to do what I know is morally right? Would I be willing to risk everything I have and love even if I knew it was for the greater good? What about the people around me; would they make the same choices as me?
Firstly, I really liked the concept and the story. It was an original twist on a common theme, and it struck me it would make a great film. However, there were a few things I found to be a bit jarring, and kept being "pulled out" of the story by them. One was the technical jargon. Wheras I generally like scientific accuracy being adhered to as much as possible (whilst obviously allowing for artistic license, such as with the prions in this book), I prefer it to be expressed far more subtly than Rubin did here. It felt almost crowbarred in, and clunky. I felt the same about some of the non-medical dialogue too. For example, the conversation Sydney had with the Scotsman (the one that was dying near the beginning) was clearly intended by the author to give us more of an emotional connection, but it completely fell flat for me due to the utter lack of realism. Who talks like that? Since when were kilts uncomfortable? How does that bit of dialogue even make sense?
Another criticism I have is that sometimes the behaviour of the characters was too obviously moulded into a plot device. The most notable example of this would be when Sydney was heading for her car in the garage. After all her fear and being careful about looking out for Jackson, she really had no suspicions about the fact the light she had parked under was smashed rendering her car in darkness? I just can't buy that. Although, I do forgive it, because it was a necessary plot device, and cliched and difficult to believe as it was, it's hard to imagine how Rubin could have written anything else at that point.
Despite my criticisms, overall I found it an enjoyable read. If I was to give it a mark out of 10, then I'd have to say 6 or 7.
-- 01 Jan 2013, 00:00 --
Okay, I finally finished The Seneca Strain by Carrie Rubin and I really enjoyed it.
Overall, I was impressed by Ms. Rubin's ability to keep track of so many different characters and make them interesting and believable. I was particularly touched by Sydney's interaction with Duncan and Mrs. Horton and how that started breaking through her emotional reserve. I was also impressed by the secondary story of Sydney's relationship with Mitch. Finally, I liked the moral dilemma that the author presented. I think the story would have been more poignant if Casper and Sydney had had a deeper emotional stake of some kind, but I like that the author didn't attempt to offer a nice, neat solution.
My favorite quote in the story was when Liz said (referring to Sydney's pessimism) "If you asked Sydney whether the glass was half-full or half-empty, she’d say, ‘What’s the point? We’re all going to die anyway.’” I thought that was a hoot.
This was an amazingly good first novel; I look forward to reading Ms. Rubin's future work.
I was particularly touched by Sydney's interaction with Duncan...
Ah, Duncan was the name of the Scot I couldn't remember the name of in my post! It seems it was just me who found that dialogue clunky then - sadly, the kilt comment in particular really pulled me out of the story, especially with the (I thought) ridiculous follow up about his wife's bannocks. Maybe it's because I'm married to a Scot and so am sensitive to such things, but it screamed of "look I know about Scots people and can crowbar these things in to make them seem more real" rather than believable characterisation to me.
This was an amazingly good first novel; I look forward to reading Ms. Rubin's future work.
Whilst this is a rather more enthusiastic response than I could give, I have to say I find myself agreeing with the general sentiment, despite my criticisms - I shall be keeping an eye out for her future works too.
i really liked this book, even though it was a little out there with the time travel. I liked the plot that the workld sent people back in time to find a cure for a future epidemic. It gives be hope that we will learn from our mistakes as a society! I thought that the story line of a flu like epidemic is scary with all the drug resitant infections that are already in the world and now she is suggesting that there caould be a prion- like virus that would in-sense alter our DNA for it's survival, that is really scary!!
I read this book in like 2 days, but I guess that is my usual speed, so that is good. I could barely put this book down! I think the only time i did was when I fell asleep reading it, but this was only because I was trying to read after working 14 hours...not much you can do to stay awake after that.
I hope that she writes more books in the future!
― Marcus Tullius Cicero
jomarie wrote:I just finished The Seneca Scourge. I found the characters well defined and the writing great. There was a little too much medical, technical jagon. I always thought that if time travel is possible then going back to change history would not be possible. What if someone traveled back and accidently killed his father before the father met his mother, married and he was born. Then he would not be there to travel back and accidently kill his father. Am I making any sense here???
Unfortunately I did not post this. I did not read The Seneca Scourge
So far, I am extremely suspicious of "Casper", and I wish that the Doctor boyfriend would be given more of a chance! Who knows, however, the boyfriend could turn out to be a psycho, for all I know, since I'm never able to read the book!
-- 02 Jun 2014, 11:36 --
I finished the book, and I enjoyed it! It left me wanting more information, on multiple things. I wanted to know more about Sydney, and more about the year that they ended up in. I wanted to hear about the children that they would conceive, considering Casper wanted them so badly. It was never mentioned if Sydney wanted children, and I would have liked to know her thoughts on having children, considering she had an extremely troubled and difficult childhood!
This book had a very intriguing storyline, and I wouldn't mind reading more medical sci-fi! There was a lot of medical jargon, but it was enjoyable to read about, not daunting. 3 out of 4 stars!