When a global epidemic spreads to Sydney, Australia, one mother fights to keep her family alive and together in Hickie’s debut thriller.
Loyal wife and mother Hannah becomes obsessed with coverage of the Manba virus, convinced against all reports that it will spread to Sydney. As a cancer survivor, she has some personal experience with struggle and illness, but her paranoia leads to an immaculately kept pantry filled with carefully counted staples and stores. What seems at first to be Hannah’s annoying sense of paranoia and self-righteousness proves to be brilliant planning when the disease virulently attacks her area of Australia. Quarantined together, Hannah's family faces challenges to their safety and questions about the limits of human empathy as they fight not only to survive, but to keep their own relationships intact. There is no shortage of suspense in Hickie’s novel, but on a deep level, it lacks drive. Hannah is complex but a bit too sanctimonious, and the risks she faces do little to paint her in a sympathetic light. There's an effective sense of claustrophobia; once the family goes into quarantine, they have little contact with any other people or any other places, so the reader is trapped with them in their house—and in their roiling emotions. The most wrenching subplot involves a dead neighbor whose little girl is taken in, rather reluctantly, by Hannah’s family.
Poses the typical challenges to our safe, complacent lives, forcing readers to ask, “What would I do if….”