Contagion by Teri Terry
Callie is missing.
Her brother Kai is trying everything he can to bring her home again, continuing the investigation even after the police have given up. Just when he’s about to admit defeat, he meets Shay, a girl who spoke to Callie on the day she disappeared. After speaking to Shay, he begins to hope again that he might be reunited with his little sister. Shay becomes entangled in the search, but they soon realize that Callie’s disappearance is only the beginning. There’s a terrifying epidemic sweeping across the UK, killing almost everyone it contaminates, and the mystery of Callie going missing seems to be at the heart of solving how to stop the contagion from spreading.
Last time my friend Maddy came to visit me, she left behind some books she thought I should read. I read her first recommendation, Editing Emma, a while back, but I’m one of those people that can only take a pinch of dystopian at a time. Having just finished This Mortal Coil and We See Everything, I couldn’t bring myself to open up a new book in the same genre.
So I waited, and waited, and waited.
Eventually, Maddy suggested visiting again, and I knew the time had finally come to open up Contagion. I have to admit that I wasn’t really in the mood to read this book, more that I knew she was visiting soon and I should return it. Though the story was gripping in places, and I found myself genuinely caring what happened to the characters, there were also lots of moments where I had to push myself to continue reading [not helped by me trying to read it at 3am while my boyfriend sat next to me playing a podracer video game], and moments where I could have easily put it down and not picked it up again.
That’s not to say it wasn’t good. I found Contagion fairly gripping, particularly as Kai, Callie and Shay face so much devastation and danger. There were bursts where the book was really dark and it dealt with some very interesting ideas I think are rooted in science [I’m not going to assume if they’re accurate or not because I am in no way a scientist] and the plot rattled on at a pretty fast pace. There were quite a few plot twists I predicted early on in the novel. and I was somewhat hoping that I might be barking up the wrong tree [I wasn’t] so I couldn’t say the book was perfect plot-wise, but it certainly kept me intrigued from the start, and since I cared about the characters, I wanted to find out how things turned out for them.
Terry does an interesting thing with the narration, alternating between Callie’s POV and Shay’s. I thought this was really odd at the start of the book, because it is meant to be about people trying to find Callie, and I thought it would be disappointing for readers to know from the start where Callie is, but it didn’t end up being an issue at all. What I liked most of all was the friendship between Callie and Shay. I wasn’t completely sold on the romance in the novel, since it felt a little insta-love to me, but the friendship seemed genuine and warm, and the moments where arguments erupted were always explained well. All three of the characters are reasonably well developed, considering they’re thrown into a life-and-death run for their lives for most of the novel, so I can understand why they’re maybe not as fleshed out as some characters I’ve fallen in love with over the past few years. They still came across as realistic, like real humans rather than robots. And I cared enough about them to see the novel through to the end, which means I connected with the protagonists too.
Overall, I’d give Contagion 6.5/10 stars. It isn’t a genre I’m usually ecstatic to read, and I found the predictable plot twists and insta-love a bit draining after a while, but for the large part the novel was readable and I was vaguely interested in finding out what happened to Callie, Kai and Shay. Probably won’t be picking up Deception simply because I have too many novels on my list to get around to, but I would say that Contagion was well-written and intriguing, so I wouldn’t not recommend it to others.