A group of scientists performing highly secured experiments on the mutation of H5N1 virus in Rotterdam, Netherlands, suddenly gets baffled when struck by a natural disaster, the highly mutated avian flu virus spreads out initiating the pandemic outbreak of a deadly flu. The authorities fail to combat the killer flu as it begins to snuff out millions of lives in different states of the US.
Surviral by Ken Benton leads with a situation when human beings become mere marionettes in the hand of destiny. Their survival very much depends on their fate and on the rate by which the virus is spreading its lethal claws. A scenario no less than the worst nightmare unfolds when even the most powerful person, the US President gets infected and eventually dies. An utter pandemonium prevails everywhere leaving people berserk. The virus respects none, either the society or the stature of people. And, here the writer portrays the true nature of humans; the way they behave when they’re frenzied, when they’re under tremendous mortal threat.
Clint Stonebreaker and his wife Jenny never were ready to pay a heed to Jake’s, (Clint’s brother) words. They always used to think that Clint is just exaggerating things, his words about the doom’s day or a possible massacre are merely figments of his imagination. But when reality strikes and Denver too, comes under the threat of the ferret flu, they succumb to Jake’s advice. As normal life comes to the verge of a collapse in Denver, they start their journey to Jake’s farmhouse at La Junta, an impressively stocked survival retreat, along with their trigger-happy and ammunition specialist neighbour, Harold.
Their journey to La Junta, in Southeast Colorado, is not an easy one. The very surviving spirit of the nation has been replaced by opportunistic hooligans with their number increasing thick and fast everywhere. The Stonebreakers face unprecedented incidents, unknown people, murderers, religious cults, and politicians. Ken has revealed different ways of life, the adaptability of humans, their intransigence to become victims, and their skill to survive even in the darkest hours.
The journey to Clint’s homestead seems to be never-ending and Jake ponders over his decision as they face threats everywhere. Still Clints hopes they’ll reach the shack in one piece but what if Jake is in danger? Will they ever be able to meet the enthusiastic survivalist prepper?
The characters of the novel come from everyday life. their torment, their fear, and their strength- all are naturally relatable. The characters of Clint, Jake, Jenny, Harold, Savage Zane, and most of the others are well portrayed. The thing I like most is the portrayal of the characters are done mostly by their respective acts and dialogues, not by mere descriptions. I find the character of politician Wade quite interesting. But, his behaviour towards the Stonebreakers, according to me, seems to be too benevolent without any interest. This is the only character that I find a bit off-from-reality.
Surviral reveals the probable threats of too much experimentation and a scenario when the power of science becomes effete. The book ties and tightens the bond between the Nature and man. Nature has all the magic potion to revive life even from the doom. Our survival to every extent depends upon the Nature. It’s better that we acknowledge the reality before some catastrophe hits us and forces us to believe in the power of Nature.
I would love to read more from the author. I recommend this book for all.