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The Patron Saint of Plagues

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  150 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
In this biological thriller of the near future, postinsurrection Mexico has undermined the superpower of the United States. But while the rivals battle over borders, a pestilence beyond politics threatens to explode into a worldwide epidemic. . . .

Since the rise of the Holy Renaissance, Ascension—once known as Mexico City—has become the most populous city in the world, its
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Published March 28th 2006 by Spectra (first published 2006)
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I simply couldn't wait to be done with this book. It just never hooked me, and there seemed to be so much stuff that was thrown in just for flair. Like the main character's verbal tick of never using any form of the verb "to be"- there was no point to it, especially since it only applied in English and he spent most of the novel speaking Spanish. That's a petty complaint, though. Overall, I just was not satisfied with this book. It felt like it was trying to be too much, and it didn't quite work ...more
Not a bad start at all. Like Tom Clancy for people who actually know about science.
It's a near-future thriller about an extremely virulent and extremely deadly dengue. So, cool. It's not great. There's some poor writing: "an angry amount of mascara"? The characterizations are shallow, and the whole things about the verb "to be" was just plain annoying to the reader. But, it's an interesting story, and the author might eventually become really good.
Nov 07, 2008 Natlyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-written, excellently paced medical thiller about an outbreak of a terrorist-designed form of dengue in a future Holy Renaissance–run Mexico City. The science fiction elements (chiefly, the pilone network that allows instant communication among those who have had the surgery) are key to the plot and its resolution, but rarely take center stage. The characters are complicated and human, dealing with difficult situations on multiple levels of emotion, religion, science, and politics.

I confess
Anthony Faber
Jan 05, 2016 Anthony Faber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this before, but didn't remember much of it, which I took as a bad sign. It's actually a pretty good near future medical mystery thriller.
Jun 18, 2014 Falbs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great epidemiology, weak characters.
Michael Harry
This was awful. The blurb on the back sounded interesting but in practice the whole set up was far too implausible. I can't see anything like that in Mexico or America's future.

The dialogue was very bad. I know that was intentional for a few characters anyway but it made for annoying reading and I thought this was pointless. The book also is a bit too technical in it's esoteric biological sectionsl for a work of fiction.

I nearly gave up so many times with this book. I should have done.
Jan 02, 2008 Sumiko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this in an airport for a 12 hour trip and it certainly made the time more enjoyable. I liked the juxtaposition of an epidemiologic outbreak investigation and the author's creation of a world where Mexico has eclipsed the US in political power. The author's choice to use a future grammar in the dialogue is distracting (the lead character never uses any form of the verb to be in speaking). In my opinion, only The Moon is a Harsh Mistress has ever successfully used that artifice.
Jan 31, 2009 itpdx rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fifty years in the future--US agriculture has been severely damaged. Mexico, under a religious dictatorship, has taken Central America and most, if not all, of South America and is at war with the US over Texas. A very deadly epidemic has started in Ascencion (formerly Mexico City). An American epidemiologist is brought in under the radar and faces challenges-professional, personal, political and moral as he fights the puzzling virus.

A good thriller.
Elizabeth Camp
Jan 30, 2014 Elizabeth Camp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jill Yesko
Jul 15, 2014 Jill Yesko rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What's not to like about a fantasy-ish futuristic eco-thriller set in Mexico? Think "The Hot Zone" with cyborgs. Great descriptions of the biology and physiology of the immune system (the science writer geek in my loves that stuff).
Mar 13, 2009 Ginette rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ginette by: Goodreads
This is one of the best stories I've read in this genre. Although there were times when I felt a little lost in the medical information, I appreciate that Barth Anderson didn't insult my intelligence by over-explaining. There were some interesting twists and turns, and, although a good ending, it wasn't a feel-good ending. There were also some interesting philosophical and political statements.
‘The Patron Saint’ was a bit difficult to get into at times and the pace lagged somewhat. But the intelligent and vividly described nature of this dystopia made up for all that. Plus, the main plot (trying to stop a manmade virus) never flagged one bit. The ending was quite satisfying and the socio-political commentary never overpowered the techno thriller elements.
Scott James
Mar 20, 2013 Scott James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pick this book up, and try to put it down. Anderson's world-ender is darkly compelling. I found myself thinking over and over, "this could happen, why hasn't this happened already."

If you like thrillers, storytelling, or just good-old fashioned fear, this is the book for you.
Jan 15, 2008 Slynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
A futuristic medical thriller. I would actually give this 4 1/2 stars if it were possible. I enjoyed the book and thought the author did a good job of explaining his world. It was a little confusing at the beginning, and a little drug out in places, but overall a very interesting read.
May 20, 2009 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fast-moving bio-terror thriller about engineered viruses, epidemic containment, religion and politics, well written and tightly plotted. Slightly eerie echo of swine flu, as it is set in Mexico City (or Ascension as the new Mexico refers to its capitol).
Dec 16, 2007 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Future Dystopia + Plagues + Mystery = my favorite sort of airplane pulpy read to have when dealing with canceled flights and missed connections. Interesting vision of technological advancements and a weak U.S. in the shadow of a Mexico religious megapower.
This was a bit of a slog- lots of religio-/politico-babble. Some interesting ideas but the narrative was so hard to follow- much jumping around in time and pov mad it hard for me to "fall into" the story and stay there for long.
Feb 11, 2013 Aramis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Aramis by: Aaron
Excellent thriller with very vivid imagery. Loved the play on Mexican history/religiosity that's intertwined with the science fiction. Incredible that it's a debut novel (it's that good). Looking forward to future works by the author.
Timothy Neesam
Mar 15, 2012 Timothy Neesam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really good read, primarily because the main character learns, grows, and sometimes doesn't learn. He's human, makes mistakes, and helps propel the story to an interesting conclusion. A unique take on biowarfare.
Jul 02, 2008 Fred rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beach-reads
This was a fun beach read, another virus mystery. Although, the main character’s non-use of verbs and grammar was a little annoying, I found myself editing more than reading.
Jan 25, 2009 Carlos is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
The plot concept is excellent and the writing memorable. But, as a writer, I'm awed at Barth's research in virology and immunology.
Near future epidemic novel. Great stuff. The science is comprehensible, the characters are compelling, and it's a rip-roaring plot.
A post-modern slightly cyberpunkish biothriller. A fair amount of fun, and nothing overly preposterous, but not much more than that. Fun.
May 28, 2008 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Lost me in the first 30 pages. Sorry I bought it and I will be giving it away as fast as possible.
It is hard picking a book for the bedroom isn't it!? Most of my currently-reading items are heavy, and those that are not wrist-breakers have print the intsy-wintsy size and therefore swimming motion of bugs scrabbling over the page.

Judging by the opening, this doesn't look as if it will suit either but one never knows until a toe is dipped...

Opening - "I hijacked a remote to Puebla," said the voice behind the plastic pirate mask, its eye-patch and gold teeth leering from the old-fashioned broad
Realistic Sci/Fi. How a plague infects a futuristic Mexico City.
Jun 25, 2008 Lane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intense and riveting, this would make an interesting movie.
If this book was 30% shorter it'd be 100% better.
Sheri Fresonke Harper
See my review at
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Barth Anderson's imaginative fiction has appeared in Asimov's, Strange Horizons, Alchemy, Polyphony, and a variety of other quality venues. He received the Spectrum Award for Best Short Fiction in 2004. Regarding his first novel, The Patron Saint of Plagues, (Bantam Spectra; 2006), Salon said, "Anderson has some serious writing chops, and he delivers a page turner that is at once a medical thrille ...more
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