Theoretically, my hands will not be on a keyboard for Halloween so you get this retro-review.

Not really holiday appropriate. You get what you pay for.

A retro review, of a self-published work, from February 11, 2012. I got a review copy through LibraryThing.

Out of curiosity, I checked to see what Mr. Pennington has been up to. I found a curious lack of an internet presence for him now.

Review: Bacterium, Nathan Pennington, 2011.Bacterium

This book’s title is pretty much truth-in-advertising with the thriller part being more of the story than the science fictional end of the world.

After killing off the President of the United States in the first chapter, we are introduced to the young couple of Sveta and Derek Silverman of Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Pennington carries on the time honored tradition of authors trashing their hometowns in a disaster story.) After a late night run to an emergency room to get help for their very sick baby, they find a hospital full of dead people and others who have just keeled over in their cars.

After their baby dies and no real news to be found on the internet or tv, they think answers and help may be coming from a group in Madison, Wisconsin, but, when the hoped for rescuers show up with guns and murderous intent, the hunt is on.

Pennington does a good job organizing and diagramming the jumps in time and space needed to tell his story. We meet the architects of this worldwide genocide, see how they executed their plans and their plans for the Silvermans and the future. Pennington, by and large, does a good job with his action scenes though one scene seems to hinge on a ignorance of firearm mechanics.

The absolutely best part of this story is Pennington’s refusal to adhere to a formula. The fates of several characters, good and bad, surprise; the clichés of action plotting are largely avoided. The ending, though, may be too bleak for some readers. Paradoxically, other readers may find it too hopeful. It’s definitely unanticipated.

The other big problem some may have with this story is the characterization, particularly of the villains. Some may find them too cartoonish or psychologically implausible. Personally, though, I have no trouble believing that a couple of disaffected and clever intellectuals would decide, with the aid of fanatical environmentalists, to wipe out the human race.

There are some problems with the formatting of the text too. Pennington usually opens each chapter with a line giving the setting. I think it would be helpful to italicize or bold those lines. Also, given Pennington’s predilection for very short paragraphs, I think it would be easier on the eyes to open the space more between paragraphs. There are also a few typos.

All in all, though, an interestingly executed plot that is well presented in a disaster setting.


More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

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