J's Reviews > The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus

The Hot Zone by Richard   Preston
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's review
Aug 11, 2011

The Hot Zone is an action packed page turner that leaves you feeling that you actually learned a fairly decent chunk of biology (and you did!). It can be understood from a layman's perspective, which is a beautiful effort in itself given how complex some of the information is. I am giving this book a high rating because of this and how well written it is. However, there are a few small points that I'm not overly fond of. It is written in a fairly confusing style I wanted at first to liken it to the writing of "The Pushcart War", a newspaper-y summative. But it's not. The best way I can explain it is that it has an extremely military feel. The details and facts are clearly laid out, but not journalistically as in "The Pushcart War". This brief yet thoroughness to the novelization of such a scenario does not lend itself to reading ease, or "flow". There is an abruptness which suits the the content, but does not give me a good impression of the writer's capabilities. Secondly, and this is what makes it the best thriller Stephen King has ever read, is the extreme brutal graphic quality of the writing. No details are spared in the description of the capabilities of the viruses described here. To give you an idea: dying in a pool of blood, being liquified from the inside out, itemization of the contents of a victim's vomit. This is not a pretty book. Lending itself to the unattractiveness is the American military conversation. Four letter words, God's name in vain and other profanities are scattered throughout the conversations of those who have to deal with outbreak control.

My biology teacher recommended this as extra reading. When I got through the first few chapters I wondered why on earth he did. After finishing the book...yes, I consider this to be a quality use of your time and I would even read it again.
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