Cover Image: The Apocalypse Strain

The Apocalypse Strain

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This is a story about Molli! Found in an ancient squirrels nest buried within the Siberian permafrost for more than thirty thousand years! She is one bad bacterium! A research facility turns into a vehicle for Molli’s infectious takeover! A destroyer of worlds or a possible healer from within repairing a persons DNA thus curing them of life threatening diseases! 

According to a PBS special that recently aired there is some truth to the unfortunate discovery of Molli! As our world heats up, permafrost that have been frozen for centuries are now beginning to thaw and we don’t know what lies dormant, waiting for release into our atmosphere! Friend or foe?? This was an interesting and entertaining read!
Was this review helpful?
With lockdown restrictions beginning to ease the Kendall Reviews team has been granted a reprieve from awkward conversations, using the same toilet and Steve Stred’s jokes. I’ve learnt a thing or two since being locked up: I prefer my own company, and Gavin needs to hire a new chef. 

Time has provided the Grim Reader plenty of opportunity to indulge in the pleasures of the palm written word. After being all shuck up with my previous books, it was time to sample something from Flame Tree Press. Jason Parent’s The Apocalypse Strain sounded like my kind of jam. It’s time for El Grimbo to bring balance back to the review table. The truth is out there.

I’ll be honest. I went in expecting an exciting pandemic thriller, the perfect book for these Covid-19 times. Sadly, what I ended up with was a forgettable sci-fi horror story that stole too many ideas from John Carpenter’s The Thing and Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation.

It’s a difficult job writing a book I get that. Writers are proud to wear their influences on their sleeve and pay homage to the movies and books of yesteryear that made their hairs stand on end. However, sometimes your love of such things can stifle creativity and originality. 

The Apocalypse Strain travels a well-worn horror path. A biological virus lays dormant under the Siberian ice until a research group thinks it a good idea to retrieve and study it. What happens? Well, I probably don’t need to tell you, but I will. The hapless team spends its time running around the facility dodging mutated work colleagues in search of an escape route. Who do you trust? Nobody! How can you tell if somebody is infected with the virus? You can’t until they’ve assimilated you. Sound familiar? It should because it’s The Thing!

Unfortunately, familiarity breeds contempt and I found myself disliking this book because of its lack of original ideas. The second half of the book was much better than the first, yet still, it was difficult to become fully immersed due to a cast of unremarkable characters. 

It may not sound like it but all is not lost. The Apocalypse Strain has some genuinely great moments of horror as characters are torn and twisted into one another. Bodies are shredded, cremated and transformed into otherworldly abominations. A scene that could’ve come straight from Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation later in the book was a real highlight. Sadly, it was too little too late, the Grim Reader’s mind was made-up.

There will be readers who love this, but I can’t shake the feeling of déjà vu. And so…

2/5 trips to the Biodome from the Grim Reader.
Was this review helpful?
This was fast exciting read. It was pretty scary with monsters, blood gore and guts. An unknown germ virus was discovered and was being studied on a remote research center, when it escapes and infects people there. The characters were kind of flat, good being good and bad being bad, most of them dead anyway by the end of the book as the genre requires. The book has a logical end and a hook to attach a sequel.
Was this review helpful?
This book is like The Thing and Resident Evil got together, had an illicit love child, and then presented it in an enjoyable and action packed novel for my personal enjoyment.

Set in a Serbian research facility, a group of scientists and a security firm are holed up to investigate a new virus which has been discovered below the ice under creepy circumstances. Of course, this isn’t your boring ol’ coronavirus, this is an ancient turn-you-into-mutated-pudding virus. The best kind.

The perspectives switch between characters but my favourite was Clara, a geneticist with MS who is hopeful that her work will help people with genetic disorders in the future. Her grumpy attitude towards other people especially endeared her to me, she’s not a fan of people in general but has a weakness for good people. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly and her keen observations about the people around her make her an excellent narrator.

For a sci-fi novel, it was running a little light on the sci. Though the story is set in a scientific research facility, the details of the pandoravirus and its origins are incredibly vague – I’m a big fan of hardcore detail when it comes to things like this, even if it only has the slightest foundation on scientific fact and the rest is totally made up. Instead, this story takes more of a leap towards the gross, gory and gloopy which has its own appeal.

The writing itself is compelling though the pacing was a bit irregular, speeding by in some places and hesitating in others. The gore was second to none though, with some amazingly graphic nastiness!

The ending of this book is primed for a sequel, which I would happily pick up to see what the author has in store for the surviving characters.
Was this review helpful?
I've probably read quite a few books about viruses infecting humans. While "The Apocalypse Strain" delivers a good story, it feels a bit sparse - a short story stretched to make a novel. Jason Parent's writing is good, as is his imagination, but the characters let the book down a bit by being a bit closed off to the reader. I felt like I wasn't really getting to know them, just snippets. It's a good read, but not a great one.

My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an advance copy to review. This review is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
Was this review helpful?
Big thanks to Netgalley, Flametree Press and Jason for letting me check out his newest ‘The Apocalypse Strain.’
I have a few of Jason’s book, yet somehow I’ve not gotten to them yet, which after reading this will be rectified shortly!
I love diving into Horror/Sci-Fi, and when I saw this one come up, I knew I’d need to give it a whirl.

What I liked: ‘The Apocalypse Strain’ tells the story of a virus found deep in the perma-frost in Siberia. A group of scientists is then gathered to analyze the finding in a remote complex. The complex was originally designed to aid astronauts preparing for a mission to Mars.
Parent doesn’t ease us into this book one little bit. Instead, from the first page he decides to shoot out of the gate and from there the book never lets up. This one features a widely diverse cast of characters and because of that, they each have their own unique back story or point of view as everything keeps getting worse. I enjoyed how Parent made sure to not highlight one singular character. While Dr. St. Pierre is featured a bit more and we learn a little more about her than the others, she still never comes across as the ‘pure hero’ or ‘saviour’ that we know will live and be there for the last page. No, she’s incredibly flawed, which made her that much more relatable. Now, I use the term flawed for her – but that isn’t describing or categorizing the fact that she has MS. I use that term based on her distrust and dislike or other people. And while some of that maybe related to previous encounters around her condition, she doesn’t use her disease as a negative. Her brain is her ultimate weapon, her strongest muscle and that is evident throughout her entire story arc.
The organism or virus, dubbed “Molli” is a vicious beast and I loved how Parent used it to not only build tension and fear, but also to create distrust between the characters.
What I didn’t like: A couple things really stand out for me. While this book does go down some very familiar Horror/Sci-Fi tropes, that is almost expected in a story like this. So, for those parts, I really just let my brain shut off and enjoy the ride. I didn’t want to start to dislike anything especially when I could see some stuff coming. No, for me there were two main parts that bugged me.
The first was the ease at which our protestor, Dante, gets into the complex. This is supposed to be a highly secure, remote, classified complex that is located in the freezing tundra of Siberia, but for some reason there are protestors out front? That was a stretch that I struggled with. And when Dante nonchalantly strolled into the parking garage, I was a bit put off. I know we needed a way for him to infiltrate, but it still seemed a bit too easy.
The second was, while there is a vast and diverse cast of characters, this also made many of them forgettable and for the most part, some were completely unnecessary. I finished this last night and there are some characters that I can’t recall their names of, not even twelve hours later. It’s a minor thing, but for me it made a lot of the group unrelatable.

Why you should buy it: This is “Summer Blockbuster” personified. This is the Michael Bay-big-explosions-big-set-pieces movie that we all would be excited to go watch right now if COVID-19 hadn’t shut everything down. Parent delivers a superb action-adventure book and if you pair this with the other recent Flametree release from Brian Moreland, ‘Tomb of Gods,’ well, you really have two fantastic books for a great double header. This one was a fun time and definitely one I hope everyone checks out!
** This review will feature on Kendall Reviews! **
Was this review helpful?
When a virus is unearthed at a Siberian research facility, little do the excited scientists know what they've really got themselves into, for it is no virus at all... Molli shows a consciousness and starts to spread, consuming every living thing in its way. Soon, the whole complex is on lockdown to keep the virus in - but that also means no one will get out. Nevertheless, a mismatched group of scientists and guards tries to escape the madness. To top things off, a terrorist has entered the facility, intent on following through with his own deadly agenda...

This book provided a first class thrill ride. It was action-driven and fast, but it also established a couple of impressive main characters. But while their motives seemed to be easily clear in the beginning, there were several surprises to encounter along the way.

The main character of course was Molli, who turned out to be much more complex than just another deadly virus. She absorbed and transformed, she grew, she communicated, she learned - and of course she was also desperate to get out alive... Dare to meet Molli?
Was this review helpful?
The book is set in Siberia at a secret research facility, in a current time frame. 

Among the items found in the ice during excavations is an ancient virus, nicknamed Molli. Dr. Clara St. Pierre, one of the leading scientists in the field of medical genomics and bioinformatics, is studying Molli when an astrobiologist named Sergei bursts into her lab and drinks the entire dish. 

As you can imagine this does not end well for him, or many of the others trapped within the facility. For Molli has a mind of her own, and an agenda which she will see through no matter what. 

The novel is an exhilarating read, and very much in the horror sci-fi vein. Molli doesn't just kill the humans she comes in contact with, but absorbs them into her form. As you can imagine, it gets quite gruesome in places.  

There's also quite a few twists, including one at the very end, which I didn't even have an inkling of. 

But because of the fast paced nature of the story, it was hard to really connect with many of the characters. And sometimes, the descriptions were excessively wordy. 

Overall though, The Apocalypse Strain is a fun read, and if you like sci-fi horror, you'll really enjoy this book.
Was this review helpful?
Very Generic. A rip-off of John Carpenter’s The Thing and Resident Evil.

This book was a major disappointment. I was very excited to read The Apocalypse Strain considering I have really enjoyed most of the work that Flame Tree Press has been putting out there. The novel just fell flat. It felt generic, a copycat novel, and overall very predictable.

I attempted to give myself some time to process the book in order to give a fair and honest review. #theapocalypsestrain #netgalley. This is because I really couldn’t find many redeeming factors at all. Jason Parent’s writing style is subpar. He is not very successful in painting a picture of a scene with his words, describing characters very well, and very repetitive when he does use descriptive adjectives. I just could not get past these major flaws. At least they are for me, a constant reader.

I will attempt to be as spoiler free as possible, but the book is basically a hopeful setup for a series I believe. A series I will not read. It all takes place in a laboratory facility, just like how Resident Evil began. The facility is described in very little detail other than very plain.

The premise also includes factors that are right out of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Scientists find organisms under the Siberian ice (instead of Antarctica as in The Thing). Of course the scientists decide to study this find, and before you know it catastrophe occurs. Boom!

Now we get into the real kicker of where The Thing and Resident Evil takes off. Once the Pandoravirus is no longer contained the creatures are straight up rip-offs of The Thing and Resident Evil! They seem to be amorphous like The Thing, take on forms much like terrifying Resident Evil creatures, and are… surprise! Destroyed seemingly only by fire/ flame throwers… just like The Thing!

Now as far as characters go I had no real love for many, if any of them. Clara is sort of a stick in the mud due to her MS, but I grew to like her. Dante was pretty awesome and mysterious. Anju was decent. After that I felt like basically all of the excess characters were fodder for the beast.

I believe I have made it abundantly clear that I disliked this novel. I sincerely hope that Jason Parent finds his niche, and goes on to succeed. However, this was a strike out in my book. I would not recommend it, would not read it again, and if more came into a series I would avoid them.

Overall, I have to give The Apocalypse Strain, due to its unoriginal plot and premise, the writing, and the boring characters a very sad 2 ⭐️’s dying out of 5 🌟’s vibrant and alive stars. I also found the ending to be utterly ridiculous and corny as well.

All in all, I do not recommend this book to fellow Sci-Fi and Horror fans. Yes, there is some neat things hence the 2 stars, but mainly deals with a lot of body horror, or loss of oneself. Pass this one up unless you want a quick beach read.
Was this review helpful?
First, I think it's very important to point out that this book is not about a pandemic and not about any kind of post apocalyptic aftermath. This is a book about a group of scientists are studying what they think is a pandoravirus, but start to notice it behaves in ways that a virus shouldn't behave. 
The start is slow and, to be honest, it took me a while to get into this book. The first few chapters were confusing as there were some supernatural elements that I wasn't expecting and things that only made sense much later in the story. This so-called virus really doesn't behave as expected, that's determined from page one and I wasn't a big fan of how it could attract people to it, but as the story develops and we get to see how it evolves, this behaviour is what gives a really eerie atmosphere that pays off in the end. 
The author does a great job of building tension and making you feel what the characters are feeling. I would have loved to know a little more about Molli and its motivations, as well as its effects, but I feel like the lack of a deeper understanding of how it all works is a big part of what makes this an enjoyable read.
Was this review helpful?
Did you like the Blob with Steve McQueen?  How about The Thing with Kurt Russell?  If you did, you're going to like this - a good old fashioned sci fi horror story. 

Something is found somewhere in Siberia and it gets loose in an underground research lab.  While it tries to escape it absorbs scientists, mercenary guards and staff.  If it gets out . . .   A fun, well paced thriller.
Was this review helpful?
Sci-fi horror is my jam, so it pains me to say I had to give up on this one. The writing is really amateurish, and can we stop using faggot as an insult? I don't care if it's "what the character would say," it's 2020. The plot was interesting but honestly the writing was a huge put-off, and the dialogue was a bit stilted.
Was this review helpful?
This is pretty well written. It's mostly well executed (just lacks a little polish). It's a thrillers with some good twists, and after a slow start, has good pacing. I liked the suspense and some the characters in particular. Recommended for thriller fans.

I really appreciate the ARC for review!!
Was this review helpful?
I wasn’t sure this was a great idea considering the current pandemic. However, it was different to what I expected. This book is not about a pandemic, but instead it’s about a clever virus nicknamed Molli that wrecks havoc on the small research centre it’s been housed in. 

The science lover in me enjoyed all the scientific information and language going on in this book. The author had done their research which was great to see. So anyone who knows nothing about science can still enjoy this book and understand what’s going on. 

Clara, a Multiple Sclerosis sufferer, is one of our protagonist’s and she was fantastic. However, I felt disconnected to the other characters, and I didn’t care what happened to them. Because of the fast nature of the book, I think it was difficult to get to know most of the characters let alone feel connected to them. 

I enjoyed the beginning of the book but found myself bored and not really caring what happened as the book went on. It felt like the same things kept happening, just with slightly different twists. I did however enjoy the ending which was a brilliant twist. It would be interesting if the book had a sequel as the ending left so many unanswered question and I’d love to see what happened next.
Was this review helpful?
The Apocalypse Strain by Jason Parent was an absolutely rip-roaring read! Perfect for fans of horror, Stephen King and Richard Laymon.
This book begins with a pandoravirus found in the ice in Siberia, taken to a secret lab and examined and it very quickly becomes clear that this virus is aggressive, grows exponentially, is violent and it needs a host. It quickly escapes its Petri dish and horrifically takes over the bodies of those around it, leaving the last few scientists and a suspected bomber to escape the facility before it blows itself up.
There's very much the sense of a ticking clock as Dante and Dr St Pierre, who is infected, but seems immune due to her multiple sclerosis, try to find their way out as all around them the people become consumed by this virus.
I very much felt like this book would become an excellent horror movie or television series and delightfully, the book ends with the hint of a sequel.
I would highly recommend this book!
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this sci-fi horror. It reminded me of James Herbert in the way the characters were often only around for a chapter before being brutally dispatched by the enemy, in this case, a 'virus' called Molli.

As a biologist I tend to stay away from anything biological because it's never done right, but I can see that Parent has a good grasp of infection, although his use of the autoimmune system did annoy me a bit. I knew what he meant though.

Our protagonist, Clara, is almost immediately infected, but thanks to her MS, is resistant to the effects. Everyone else gets horribly mutated as Molli uses their cells to build something. In a way it reminded me of Solaris in how the whole planet is alive. That and there were Russians. 

The way it ended I would be really surprised if there wasn't a book 2. I will definitely be reading that book 2 if/when it arrives. The Apocalypse Strain is definitely one for lovers of sci-fi/horror/action.
Was this review helpful?
This book started out a little slow, I wasn't sure if I was even going to finish it. I'm glad I kept going because it turned out to be a really good read.
Was this review helpful?
I love the idea of this book, however..
(By the way, it has got nothing to do with COVID-19)!!!.
French science doctor arrives to the research centre in Siberia, she spent all her life researching viruses and she's excited to work on this new project called "Molly". During her researches it happens that a lot of people protest against creating/researching viruses. Because even though Geneva treaty is in place, nobody can guarantee that these things that they keep in the laboratory freezers can't be used against humanity. One day, being stuck in the clean room Dr. Clara finds out a lot about "Molly" and disasters begin...
Personal opinion:
Look, I really loved this book, however some detailes from the scientific point of view made me roll my eyes. For example: "In the secret laboratories clean room doctor wakes up from her sleep walk with her hand in the Petri dish that had got deadly virus?!?!" Seriously?!? I don't think person would easily get it the clean room, especially with a freezers full of deadly bacteria and viruses. 
Overall book is good, I rated it 3/5 🌟. And would recommend it to anyone that is fan of the utopia / sci-fi genre. Happy reading.
Was this review helpful?
The Apocalyspe Strain is an horror / action novel by author Jason Parent. 

It’s quite a difficult book to review without spoiling anything, and spoiling it would be a pity, really, as all the twists and turns the story take are thrilling. It’s about a virus (totally unlike the one currently plaguing us), but it’s not about an epidemic. It’s about a mismatched group of scientists, paramilitaries and a very special activist trying to prevent such a pandemic to occur. 

Some twenty years into the future, a team of scientists and astronauts train for a future manned mission to Mars. They drill into the permafrost. One of them, hallucinating, maybe from grief and strain, is led to drill a particular spot, where he uncovers a very ancient squirrel nest full of preserved biological goodies such as seeds and micro-organisms. 

Not long after, a group of scientists from several fields, including the original team, study the discoveries in an international research facility, guarded by a private sector paramilitary unit, and surrounded with protestors. Among the retrieved items are four pandaviruses that have been revived. They are the focus of a French researcher, Clara St Pierre, who has hopes of extracting cures from them, and maybe one for the multiple sclerosis that has her confined to a wheelchair. Instead, she discovers one of those viruses isn’t exactly a pandavirus, but something more. This potentially dangerous organism wants out in the world, and has a lot of tricks in its bag to make it happen. 

The author channels a lots of classic works in this novel : The Thing, X-Files (especially the early « Ice » episode by Glenn Morgan & James Wong, and the black oil saga), Aliens, and even Hellboy. But, it is not a retread of works already done. The author appropriated beloved concepts, and turned them into something new. An original and enthralling story you want to read in one sitting. 

All the best elements from those classics are there, though : glimpses of secret knowledge, eerie events, isolation, claustrophobia, dread, mistrust, treachery and paranoia (in the characters as much as in the reader). Also, action. A lot of action. So much that, at some points, we follow sequences happening simultaneously, like a literary version of the « 24 » split screen gimmick. 

Jason Parent plays with a large cast of diverse and quickly fleshed out characters, all with their own qualities and faults, appearing and evolving under the ever increasing stress and fear. Prepare to be disappointed by some, get in awe of others or, to put it simply, for an emotional roller coaster ride leaving the reader not one moment to breathe.

Thanks to Flame Tree Press and Netgalley for the ARC provided in exchange for this unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?
This is not about a pandemic.  I kind of feel like I need to say this because of everything that’s going on in the world.  Some people are avoiding pandemic novels and some people are searching for them.  So…not a pandemic.

There is, however, a virus.  And it’s a humdinger of a virus at that and our scientists in the book are are too willing to play with it.

Expect violence, gruesome scenes, characters you love (who end badly), characters you hate (who end badly) and an unfortunate use of a fork.

I will warn you that the book starts a bit slowly and there’s kind of a long scene that doesn’t make sense until later, but once things get started it’s non-stop and a whole lot of fun.

I liked it, but not for the faint of hear.

*ARC Provided via Net Galley
Was this review helpful?