Nanobytes released into the air transform most of the U.S. population into crazed killers who attack the unaffected in this sci-fi thriller.
The government enlisting death-row inmate Dr. Griffith “The Griffin” Avazino to help with a top-secret project turns out as one might expect. Avazino, who gleefully relives the murder that put him behind bars, eventually launches his creation, “silver”—nanobytes that resemble liquid metal. The nanobytes move through clouds and fall like rain, covering everything in silver and seemingly rendering people unconscious. Upon awakening, most are inexplicably murderous, going after those still in their right minds, including Nevada nurse pals Natalie Harper and Cori Silverman. Natalie braves hordes of the infected, who call themselves creepers, to save her most cherished patient, Toby, whom she’d already planned on adopting with her fiance, Mark Hofland. Mark, meanwhile, is at his law firm’s company retreat in Hawaii with his friend (and Cori’s husband) Evan. They find scientist Brian Matician, a reluctant participant in the project who’s now looking for a way to counter the nanobytes. The separated couples are willing to do whatever’s necessary to thwart the apparent virus, if they can hopefully reunite, but unfortunately, The Griffin is also in Maui and primed to stop anyone who interferes with his work. Characters fleeing and fighting demented people give the novel a zombie flavor, but the story’s primarily a medical thriller. The nanobytes’ purpose, for example, is a mystery, which ties to various back stories (for example, secrets that Natalie’s hiding from Mark). The creepers, too, are more terrifying because their condition is clearly psychological; unlike mindless ghouls, they still speak, blurting eerie sentiments like “I am the expunger of the unclean.” There are myriad twists, some predictable (the reason Natalie et al. aren’t affected) and others truly surprising, such as connections among a few of the characters. The narrative clarifies that the entire country is at risk, but Harris (Red in the Waters, 2015, etc.) wisely keeps his story focused, contained to a relatively small group. A melodramatic final act leads to an ending that, while fittingly bizarre, will likely polarize readers with its dissonance.
A technology-inspired mystery with all the fun of a zombie-esque outbreak.