Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant
Very often science fiction is used to explore contemporary controversies through an artificial window of time — imagining some value system extrapolated to an extreme. This short novella does that. Sort of. It’s not symbolic, it’s not allegorical — it’s pretty much an on-the-nose attack of the anti-vaccination movement. One imagines that if the author had set out to write an anti anti-vax book, it would have turned out much like this.
Poor vaccination rates open a window to Morris’ Disease — an extra lethal version of measles. People die in the millions. And that’s just the beginning. Dr. Izzy Gauley is struggling to hold together her medical practice in this new reality, until she discovers that the worst is yet to come. Izzy realizes that the very survival of humanity is at stake and takes steps to protect who she can — all while hiding a dark secret of her own.
The writing here has a clinical, detached tone that fits the main character and the situation well. It does, however, hold back the potential emotional impact of the story. On top of that, this is a very short book. There’s simply not time to dwell on feelings and sensations.
It does, however, provide a striking vision of a worldwide pandemic that is all too realistic. Medical details are laid out clearly and plausibly. Moreover, this isn’t some far-off future world of flying cars and killer robots. It’s a world just like our own. This story could take place next year, next month — or tomorrow.
- Rating: 4-stars
- Length: 30,000 words
- Violence: No
- Sex: No
- Drugs: Vaccinations?