Survivor Song

Survivor SongSurvivor Song by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paul Tremblay steps away from the ambiguous, maybe-supernatural horror novels he’s been writing over the past few years to present a realistic tale of survival amid a scientifically-based epidemic. SURVIVOR SONG’s plot is very straightforward — our characters must get from point A to point B before the infection takes hold of one of them — but Tremblay’s novels are rarely about the plot. Although it’s clear the author has done the research necessary to posit how exactly this new form of rabies operates and what its effects on humans and local animals would be, the focus is squarely upon our two protagonists, Ramola and Natalie. Their deep, long-lasting friendship is at the forefront of everything that happens.

Although the novel was released during the pandemic of 2020, it was written the year before, and yet it is remarkably prescient. An ineffective government response, a dwindling supply of PPE for health care workers, armed right-wing militias fueled by online conspiracy theories, he gets it all shockingly right. It’s just another example of Tremblay’s deep understanding of people. When the worst happens, some rise to the occasion while others sink to their lowest selves.

Tremblay excels most at writing deeply humane novels about realistic, authentic characters facing extreme situations — something he has in common with Peter Straub, in my opinion — and SURVIVOR SONG is one of the best examples of this I’ve read. Fast-paced, suspenseful, and poignant, SURVIVOR SONG is a must read.

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