4 out of 4 stars
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Superbugs is a dystopian novel by author Tayma Tameem. The novel explores a post-pandemic future in which governments have taken away basic rights in order to enforce quarantine measures. Lily manages a housing complex in this futuristic world; she struggles to ensure that the residents in her building remain safe and have enough to eat. The unexpected arrival of a young pregnant woman at the complex throws Lily’s boring subsistence living into turmoil.
The dystopian world created in this book is really well described. Details like the disgusting food everyone has to eat (called Nutraloaf) and new greeting gestures to replace handshakes give the entire book an authentic feel. I was also fully engaged by the characters throughout the whole story. The author provides vibrant descriptions to bring each character to life. For example, one of Lily’s unpleasant residents is described in this way: “He was a monument to an era of white picket fences on which those who didn’t conform were ritually impaled.”
I have mixed feelings about a book that reinforces the potentially negative outcome of pandemic responses; right now I feel that everyone needs positive reinforcement about social distancing and quarantine measures. However, I do agree that the concept of governments taking pandemic responses too far is an excellent premise for a dystopian story. I also did not like the author’s tendency to rely on heavy exposition throughout the book. There is a lot of telling the reader about what is happening instead of weaving these explanations into the flow of the story. The author also uses a considerable amount of passive voice; this detracts from the sense of immediacy and excitement in the writing style. That said, overall this book is very well edited and proofread.
I would recommend Superbugs to readers who enjoy books like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Deal with the Devil: A Mercenary Librarians Novel by Kit Rocha. I would warn readers that this book contains disturbing situations such as prison violence and the abuse of the homeless; sensitive readers might find some descriptions too graphic. However, the book does not contain any profanity or sex. I would also note that this book was clearly professionally edited and proofread.
I give this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars because of its vivid characterization and exciting futuristic setting. Many readers may find this book especially timely and entertaining because of its connection to the current global pandemic.
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