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Yup, you read that right. We are venturing into microbiology here. Hey, I was a bio major back in the day; gotta get some use out of that degree, right?
The Hot Zone by Richard Preston is a non-fiction book, and it is absolutely horrifying. Or, rather, terrifying, as claimed in the subtitle.
Preston decided to make his readers lose some sleep at night by writing about how close the United States came to an outbreak of Ebola. You might have heard of it. An awful little virus that leaves you bleeding out of all orifices.
So, I’m scrolling through my shelves on GoodReads, as I do every Wednesday night (yes, I am a procrastinator), trying to choose villains for an October Character Connection. Up pops The Hot Zone. “Scary book,” I thought as I scrolled by, as I always do. Wait for it… “Scary. Book!” Ding ding ding! What could be scarier than the Ebola virus? It’s a definite villain in this piece.
You might argue that in order to be a villain, there should be some evil intention involved. You’d be right. But I’ll go ahead and argue for the sake of it that when your purpose in “life” is to replicate, and you do that when your host dies an agonizing, beyond-messy death, there’s a (weak) argument to be made for evil intention.
I was going to post some of the descriptions of exactly how Ebola victims die, but I decided that is a little bit much for me. I’ll just introduce you to the beginning of an agonizing end (Here’s an excerpt with more details if you’re curious). It apparently starts with a monster of a headache and then a backache and then progresses into nausea and vomiting. Later, “His eyes are the color of rubies, and his face is an expressionless mass of bruises. The red spots, which a few days before had started out as starlike speckles, have expanded and merged into huge, spontaneous purple shadows: his whole head is turning black-and-blue. The muscles of his face droop. The connective tissue in his face is dissolving, and his face appears to hang from the underlying bone, as if the face is detaching itself from the skull.” And it gets infinitely worse from there. Liquefying organs and blood spattering everywhere. Stephen King has nothing on this nasty little bug.
If I were a worrier, something like this is what would keep me awake at night. It had me freaked out enough while I was reading, but I was able to let it go and move on, only thinking about Ebola when I see this title. SARS? Bird flu? H1N1? I reeeeeaaaalllly don’t want any of them, but give me those over Ebola any day. The death rate among the monkeys infected with the virus outside of DC was 90%. Can you imagine if that thing had crossed over into humans? *Shudder* The death rate of the Black Plague, which we still talk about centuries later, was “only” 30-60% by comparison. Holy cow.
I have had some bad headaches recently. I wonder if… Nah. Well… No.
Now that I’ve scared myself into a sleepless night, who did you connect with this week? Link your post on Mr. Linky, then be sure to go check out the other Character Connections!
Who do ya love?
Or love to hate?
You know you’ve got a lot to say about some larger-than-life characters, and this is the place to say it. Write a straightforward post. Draw a picture. Vlog, write poetry, write fiction, cast the role, be as creative as you want!
Be sure to post the book’s title and author, and be very careful not to give away spoilers while talking about how much you love your characters.
Mr. Linky will be posted here on The Introverted Reader every Thursday.
I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.