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The Cobra Event

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  14,333 ratings  ·  710 reviews
The Cobra Event is a petrifying, fictional account of a very real threat: biological terrorism.

Seventeen-year-old Kate Moran wakes one morning to the beginnings of a head cold but shrugs it off and goes to school anyway. By her midmorning art class, Kate's runny nose gives way to violent seizures and a hideous scene of self-cannibalization. She dies soon after. When a home

Hardcover, 404 pages
Published October 27th 1997 by Random House (NY) (first published 1997)
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Mina Yes; that’s how a couple of the first victims contract the virus.

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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  14,333 ratings  ·  710 reviews

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This is an excellent and VERY scary bio-terrorism thriller. I have read many of Richard Preston's books that relate to potential biological hazards and he never fails to bring the suspense. In fact, this book has one of the top 5 most suspenseful scenes I have EVER read in a book. I cannot talk about it too much further (spoilers, you know . . .), but lets just say a character has to make a split second decision that will have you hanging on the edge of your seat!

If you are a thriller fan, you o
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you just crave a classic thriller -- and there is a reason that Richard Preston's THE COBRA EVENT is a classic. A tale of a biological warfare attack on Manhattan, it's the sort of impeccably researched scare-fest that really does keep even a jaded novelist like me reading well past my bedtime. ...more
George Fisher
Jan 15, 2013 rated it did not like it
I thoroughly disliked this book.

It started by introducing a little girl and savagely killing her with a horrible nervous system destroying virus. Unfortunately I was eating lunch when I started the book and lost my appetite (which has never actually happened to me).

I'm 200 pages into the book and the characters, setting, and descriptions are weak. It's like Preston followed a simple book writing formula, first introduce character, then describe character, describe setting, add something unique
Oct 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
This book was amazing! Richard Preston, the author of "The Hot Zone," (the true story of the Ebola outbreak of a monkey research facility in Virginia) knows his stuff! This man is brilliant! Honestly, I can't say it enough. He knows diseases, virology, epidemiology, criminology and suspense. He KNOWS his stuff. Seriously if you haven't read any of his books, shame on you, get to it! NOW! ...more
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Wow, I after reading The Hot Zone The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston previously, I didn't think I'd be able to find a book that'd be able to match the same horror and suspense, but after reading this book, I'd say it was quite close!!

It starts out with teen Kate Moran, who is believed to have come down with a common cold, shakes it off and decides to go to School. While in school, Kate gets progressively worse, then suddenly collapses, having violent seizures and begins process of self-cannibalization. Hours later she dies in Hospital. W
Eli Easton
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have always had a unexplained love of stories about epidemics and threats of apocalyptic level disease outbreaks. I like disaster movies in general, but in particular ones featuring disease, whether natural or a bio weapon. There aren't too many terrific novels in this genre, since many tend to be the same. It's exciting up until the point where the virus outbreak occurs, and then it sort of sinks into typical survivalist post-apoc fare.

This one, however, is very likely the best NOVEL written
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
While I would have given this book a five star rating, some parts were jumping back and worth a little too much.

With that being said, this book is terrifying. The author did a lot of research on it, but he also fictionalized some parts (mainly names and instructions on how to build weapons - for obvious reasons). The core part is that, yes, these things can and do happen all the time. We don't hear about it always but these types of biological weapons are aimed at eliminating a vast number of a
Kaykay Obi
It begins with a common cold. You find yourself blowing your nose every moment. You sneeze occasionally. You take some cold syrup. The syrup doesn’t help. You even feel worse. You can feel yourself drifting apart. Someone’s talking to you, but you aren’t paying any attention. You feel weak and weary and disoriented. And then you suddenly drop to the floor, thrashing around violently. You feel strange blisters in your mouth. Next you begin to chew your lips and the insides of your mouth in relish ...more
Once again Richard Preston sets out to scare us about the (very real) threat of diseases and viruses that could wipe out a significant portion of the world population. Unlike The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story this book is fiction and about what if a virus was altered and used as a weapon, rather than about a natural virus.

The first half of this book is great. The slow buildup as the virus starts to be found, the uncertainty of the source or nature of it, the small snippets of real-life backg
Ehhh... the idea behind this book was solid and interesting but poorly executed. Quite simply, the writing broke the book with its overuse of passive verbs, inconsistent verb tense and overall repetition of words. From the technical aspect, this book seemed like it originated from someone who had neither read a novel nor took a writing class. Despite its gore, the book talked down to its audience in an insulting fashion (perhaps Richard Preston secretly agrees with his villain?). The characters ...more
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller-adult
This book I discovered by chance--and I am glad I did. It was a real page turner. Published in 1997 it is the horrifying story of "black biology" and the possibilities of biological weapons. The CDC, New York City police and fire department, and the FBI form "Reachdeep" -- a criminal investigation team working together to solve biological weapons mystery before a deadly "brainpox" virus is released worldwide.
A great deal of the book is based on facts that we should all be aware of now. It is a t
Aug 04, 2016 rated it liked it
2.5 stars. A good story but not very good writing. He lapses into encyclopedia-like explanations, often repeating the same fact thrice in one paragraph+, his metaphors are horrible, and the point of view is all over the place. Also though he brags in an introduction about how accurate it is, there really are problems in the science, at least as I understand it.

+ Page 57: " [he] fitted a chain mail glove over his left hand. ...the prosector wears a metal glove on one hand … Most accidental knife
N. Jr.
Dec 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
I had already read Preston's ground-breaking non-fiction The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus. But a fiction writer he ain't.

Cardboard characters, a stupidly evil villain, an incredulous plot, and worst of all, poor writing.
I expected much better after having read his non-fiction.
No match for Michael Crichton
If you haven't read it, I would give it a miss.
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Hot Zone" scared me to death when I read it 20 years or so ago. I missed his fictionalized version of what a bio-terror event might look like in a major city. A little stilted at times (when Preston tried to inject more fiction-type elements into the book, he is really a better non-fiction writer) but overall really well-researched and terrifying. A little dated as it's almost 20 years old, but still a good read. ...more
Apr 10, 2007 rated it did not like it
This author kind of reminds me of Michael Crichton and Dan Brown, in that it's written like a screen play. I read this book and still got a C in my bioterrorism course. LAME. ...more
Feb 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dont-be-stupid
Richard Preston needs to learn how to write a cohesive story. Plain and simple. Honestly got a page in and had to stop, it was so bad.
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

Re-read. A thrilling story that seems almost plausible by today's standards. That is what makes this story truly horrifying!

John Wiltshire
Nov 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I don't often read the afterword in novels, but I did for some reason with this one, and in doing so had some of my problems with the book confirmed. Preston admits himself that this is a blend of fiction and non-fiction: that he'd taken a non-fiction scenario and non-fiction research and fictionalised them. I found it a very uneasy blend. It's extremely detailed about viruses, their weaponising, the equipment, the strategies to combat them... Research is used best when it's used sparingly. I wa ...more
Oct 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: used-paperback
My thrill and excitement for this novel started to dissipate a little more than halfway through. Possibly at my own fault, not sure.

There were moments in which I wasn't sure if the author desired to tell a great story or to anecdote a great textbook. The story would be moving along quite nicely and then we'd pause, take a step back away from the setting & characters, and discuss real-life biology or geography or science history.

Hard to get a good cadence with these odd interruptions. I found m
L. Sevilla
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have no words. Read the book. Read it, in all of its sciency amazingness. The first book to ever scare the actual living heck out of me, but in such a good, adrenaline-filled way that I don't even care. Read the book. ...more
Corey Woodcock
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a brutal, scary, and graphic book. It was a hell of a page turner as well. I was back and forth on 4 or 5 stars; I decided on 4 since I'd say the writing wasn't quite on the level of some of the stuff I've been reading lately, but for pure entertainment value it was 5/5.

This book is about the terrifying world of bio-terrorism and all the nightmare-inducing things that come along with that. The writer doesn't hold back at all. We're dealing with an engineered virus here, Cobra, or brainp
3.5 Stars!

Well, shit. That was intense. 😳
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
When Stephen King says he was scared after reading this book, it became a must-read. Yes, we live in a world currently struggling with COVID but imagine, just imagine, how worse it could be.
Scotty Buthker
Jan 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The Cobra Event... It was a great book, equally chilling and at the same time believeable. It's the reality that gets you, knowing this could happen in the USA at any time. Following up on what my last comment said, the investigators eventually do find the identity of the terrorist. A scientist, who is employed by a mysterious company of sweedish and iraqi decent. The attacks get more and more bold though, and time seems to be running out. In Washington DC, he infects 10 people with the Newly na ...more
Katie R. Herring
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read the majority of this book with my shirt over my mouth and nose, the scenes in this novel were disturbing and I couldn't help it. This had more gruesome descriptions than The Hot Zone, or I was just more disturbed because the autopsies were on humans, not monkeys.

Biological warfare is the weapon of the future, I think.

As T.S. Eliot wrote, the world will end not with a bang but a whimper. Disease causes a whimper, not a bang.

This novel follows Alice (does Preston always center on female p
T.C. Weber
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Richard Preston knows the world of plagues and bioweapons. That in itself made The Cobra Event worth reading. The story is tense and scary, with an ample sprinkling of gore (particularly the demise of a certain medical staffer). The book's weakest part is its characters. Preston is primarily a non-fiction writer and this shows. Character development is poor, and there is little reason to root for anyone other than the human race in aggregate. Preston also likes to include little asides about tec ...more
Tory Wagner
Feb 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
While there were parts of this book I really enjoyed, I found myself pulled away from the story when Preston went into educator mode. The actual storyline about a biological weapon that was being used in New York City was compelling and the main characters were easy to root for. Unfortunately, there were long passages that described in great detail, the military uses of biological weapons and the politics of their use. A little of this information was important, but is sometimes felt like I was ...more
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very well-researched. A masterclass in preparation and investigative interviewing as a means of laying down a believable scenario with believable agency protocols.

Fine work.
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
In this book, the reader experiences all of the crimes and crisis in the modern day as they happen, from the perspectives of both the protagonist and antagonist. The main crime and important event occurred in the beginning of the book, and causes the main character to become involved. That crime that began the book also happened to other characters throughout the middle and the end. This crime/crisis that the story focused on was a form of genetically engineered disease that was then used as a f ...more
Katia M. Davis
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Carolyn McBride
I enjoy books by Richard Preston. I picked this up because I have read The Hot Zone in the past. Whilst not as intriguing IMO as that publication, this book is still very gripping. The 'what if?' scenario is truly horrifying and could potentially happen quite easily given the right circumstances. While modern cities and methods of travel allow us to navigate our complex world, they also leave us vulnerable. We have created our own arteries of destruction if someone or something decided to take a ...more
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Richard Preston is a journalist and nonfiction writer.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

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