An apocalyptic thriller that will eat your brain.
In California, a cop pulls over a driver who has a dead woman’s arms holding the steering wheel. Van Horn, Texas, suddenly becomes a ghost town. Employees for a company called Escape Velocity go missing, and then chaos seems to spread everywhere. “This is like the Rapture,” a character says. “Y’know—gone up to meet Little Baby Jesus at the end times.” People who don’t disappear die or go mad. Genetically engineered mosquitoes called Skeeters spread insanity and hemorrhagic smallpox over the Sioux reservation in the Dakotas. Yellow fever and bubonic plague follow. Madness and death threaten to swallow the world. A woman decides to self-abort using a plastic spoon in a Dairy Queen parking lot so “she’d bleed the tadpole right out.” “Where was this mental cabbage coming from?” Billy Howahkan asks himself, a question he might well ask the author. There’s a plot in here for readers who care to look for one, and the writing is professional. And of course the story boils over with the author’s vivid imagination, but it goes well beyond what’s necessary to resolve the issues, page after painful page. A Mr. Piper (think Pied Piper) may be the book’s only interesting character, an evil being who “absorbed ambient energy like a rainforest sucked up heat and sunlight…from a lifeless rock…the motion of tides.” He has lived in one form or another for millennia. The rest of the characters, including a “dyke cop” and a space scientist, wander in and out of scenes that have mind-numbing similarity.
Consuming illicit chemicals might increase some readers’ tolerance of this clunker. For others, its end time can’t arrive a page too soon.