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The End of October

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  14,527 ratings  ·  2,435 reviews
In this riveting medical thriller--from the Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author--Dr. Henry Parsons, an unlikely but appealing hero, races to find the origins and cure of a mysterious new killer virus as it brings the world to its knees.

At an internment camp in Indonesia, forty-seven people are pronounced dead with acute hemorrhagic fever. When Henry Parsons--micr
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published April 28th 2020 by Knopf Publishing Group
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This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler) I've read a lot of pandemic/ epidemic novels and non-fiction.
Mary Wollstonecraft, Daniel Defoe, Mark Twain, Albert Camus , Richard Matheson, Michael C…more
I've read a lot of pandemic/ epidemic novels and non-fiction.
Mary Wollstonecraft, Daniel Defoe, Mark Twain, Albert Camus , Richard Matheson, Michael Crichton, etc.
Most of them have their reasons of being during these years.
"The End of October" was written pre-CoViD-19.
I am looking forward to a novel during the next five years dealing with another pandemic during the CoViD-19 pandemic.(less)

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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  14,527 ratings  ·  2,435 reviews

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May 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
There may be spoilers ahead.

I will say that a lot of research went into this book. This is not a lazily written book but it is poorly written. Sometimes, when a writer does a lot of research and wants the reader to know they are a credible expert on their subject, they make fiction seem like nonfiction. If you want a primer on pandemics (TIMELY), then sure, this book offers something useful. The problem is that there are just pages upon pages of what are, essentially, lectures on pandemics, vacc
Donna Backshall
It's difficult to believe The End of October was written just before the *ish* hit the global fan a couple months ago.

If I'd read The End of October, say, last fall, I'd have said "Cool speculative fiction, but wow, people wouldn't suck that bad in a real crisis, would they?"

Now I'm just nodding and thinking "Yep. That happened. And that too. We didn't measure up any better."

Lawrence Wright pretty much nailed the political finger-pointing and lack of preparedness, the world economy deteriorati
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-library, 2020
At best, Henry had only slowed an inevitable, history-shaping pandemic. Governments would fall. Economies would collapse. Wars would arise. Why did we think that our own modern era was immune to the assault of humanity’s most cunning and relentless enemy, the microbe?
If you paid any attention to the role of disease in human affairs, you’d know the danger we’re in. We got smug after all of the victories over infection in the twentieth century, but nature is not a stable force. It evolves, it
Carolyn Walsh
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars.
Lawrence Wright is an esteemed journalist and author. Among his many honours is his Pulitzer Prize for the non-fiction book, The Looming Tower about the rise of al-Qaeda and the road to 9/11. This is a meticulously researched book in the form of a novel. It contains much factual information about historic epidemics and their rampage through the worlds’ population and the social, political and economic aftermath. It also provided details of cyberattacks, bio-warfare and experimentatio
Diane S ☔
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 Scared the bejesus out of me. Keep in mind this was written before Covid, and the parallels are beyond astonishing. A pandemic breaks out, but in China but in Indonesia, ravishing the world. People die, countries shut down, no cure, no vaccine. Henry, in my reading mind I pictured Fauci, is the man in charge, trying to find a cure. There is a subplot, one as frightening if not more so, the shutdown if everything we count on to make our country run. I'll stop there, no spoilers.

Breakneck pace
This was quite terrifying to read during a global pandemic. This book very much parallels what we are experiencing right now; a virus that is taking over the world, doctors and scientists are scrambling to understand it and get a vaccine, hospitals are reaching maximum capacity, and politicians try and act like they know more than the scientists. It’s all very familiar, which made it feel more real and scary. This book is very well-researched, and it’s clear in the writing how much time the auth ...more
Lawrence Wright’s new novel, ‘The End of October’ delivers a prescient account of a pandemic and its effect on the world and the USA. Who could have guessed that the world would be suffering from a major pandemic at just the time that Wright’s book was published? He began writing it in 2017 and finished it during the summer of 2019. It packs a punch and will resonate with many readers as its characters go through the worry and anxiety of a flu-like virus that possibly begins in Indonesia. At lea ...more
Jessica Jeffers
Apr 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: edelweiss, fiction
Most advance copies of books include a letter from the editor or publicist explaining what's so great about the book. This one includes a letter from the author that starts:
"I pray that the events depicted in The End of October never happen. But could they?"
This book was obviously conceived and written before the current pandemic began, but its timing is chilling given what Lawrence Wright was able to predict regarding what we are experiencing. His predictions are not that shocking, though, bec
May 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Let's give credit where credit is due. Lawrence Wright does his research. He won the Pulitzer for non-fiction for his examination of Al-Qaed. He followed that up with an expose on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology which got turned into an HBO Documentary. Now he's trained his eye on a possible pandemic for this fictional thriller.

How did he do?

Well, we have a mysterious influenza virus that originates in Asia in the Spring of 2020 that sends economies into a tailspin, shuts down schools, overwhelm
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hello readers -- I rarely give 5 stars to a fiction book but this one completely blew me away! To say that it is prescient and timely is an understatement. If you have a desire to really understand what is going on in the world right now, this is a novel that you cannot afford to miss! It is shocking and absorbing with so much information that I can't even relay it in a review. I was overcome with so many emotions as I read this and I think it is one that every sentient being on the planet canno ...more
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: overdrive, audio
This book was fast paced and entertaining and the author obviously did a lot of research before writing it. I’ve read a lot of escaped-killer-virus books, but I never thought I would be living inside one. This book was not better than the others I have read, but it’s huge advantage is it’s timeliness. It was told from the point of view of a scientist who was separated from his family as the virus that was first seen in an Indonesian detention camp spread around the world. It also included the st ...more
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Governments would fall. Economies would collapse. Wars would arise. Why did we think that our own modern era was immune to the assault of humanity's most cunning and relentless enemy, the microbe?

The release of Wright's medical thriller about a devastating global pandemic was certainly well timed, coming out just as COVID-19 swept across the planet. I finished this novel on Thanksgiving - a day when I'm guessing many families, despite dire warnings from doctors and scientists, gathered together
Jordan (Jordy’s Book Club)
QUICK TAKE: I’m a huge science fiction nerd, and growing up, my first foray into the genre was through the works of Michael Crichton. I loved how books like Jurassic Park posed the question, “What would happen if people abused the laws of science and nature?” ... and then let said abused science and nature run roughshod all over humanity. Which is why I was immediately drawn to The End of October, a frighteningly prescient look at how the world would react in the event of a global pandemic.

Oct 11, 2020 rated it did not like it
A “pandemic thriller” in the vein of Michael Crichton but written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright ( The Looming Tower and Going Clear ).

This is an odd and entirely unsuccessful move into fiction by this author. Was this rushed into publication due to its undeniable parallels with our current pandemic? Whatever the reason for this fiasco, do not be fooled, this is a dangerous mix of some accurate science (well-researched history of infectious disease ) alongside a vast raft of ab
Judith E
May 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
Lawrence Wright explains the history and tenacity of viruses that humans have encountered. Through the undeveloped plot and lightweight characters, he illustrates how a pandemic can start a domino effect and then how society goes to hell in a hand basket. I found the references to Russian and Chinese organized attacks via cyber sabotage and the Chinese lack of transparency during outbreaks to be the most interesting and frightening. Since I Googled to fact check these underground activities, I e ...more
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Want to know even more about viruses and pandemics? Wright’s latest novel will provide you with the history of both. He incorporates accounts of major epidemics, descriptions of Russian biowarfare capabilities, and other nonfiction facts. As long as the novel sticks to the pandemic plot-line, the book is excellent. It is striking how close the details of the unfolding pandemic in the novel parallel our own COVID-19 experience. Makes one wonder why the U.S. wasn’t more prepared if all this inform ...more
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: e-arcs
This book suffers from identity issues. Is it a a Dan Brown knockoff? A morality story? A non-fiction of pandemics? A global survey of pandemic preparedness?
It is all of these, yet so scattered that it is successful at being none of them.
Our main character, Henry, is the greatest epidemiologist the CDC has even known, we also flit around perspectives to his family, and a high level Homeland Security staffer. In a fun twist, we also go back in time to an indeterminate period before Henry worked a
Ooooh.... What a great ending!

I didn't see that coming at all. The ending reminds me of a TV series that can't be named in order not to spoil for other readers 🤫. But the difference is how the TV series starts is how this one ends!😁

Very timely pandemic thriller that starts in Indonesia then spread by a sick man who traveled to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage.

If not for the slow pacing at about 8 hours in, this could've been 5 stars.
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dennis by: Charles
Oh man, this could have easily been one of my favorite books of the year. But it wasn’t to be.

The first two thirds of this story are amazing. Henry Parsons, the CDC’s leading epidemiologist, is sent to Indonesia to investigate the deaths of 47 people in an internment camp. What he finds there is something he has never seen before. Something that ultimately finds its way out of the camp. We then follow Henry to Saudi Arabia in search of the one survivor who is carrying the virus. Unfortunately, t
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2020-shelf, horror
This is a particularly wide-ranging mixed bag for me. I'd give it 5 stars alone for the devotion to real politics, real name-dropping, real virology and science, and a happy (and scary) look at just how badly the world can (AND DID) handle a pandemic.

Indeed, so much about this novel is so right on target that I would have sworn it was written DURING OUR pandemic while following all the ins and outs of the insanity of 2020. And who knows? Maybe a good deal of it was worked into the near-final man
Proustitute (somewhat here, somewhat there)
... shelter in place, wash your hands, don’t go out in public unless vitally necessary, and, if you do, wear a mask and sanitary gloves…

Was this just the way it was going to be—the powerful, the rich, and the celebrated would be saved… Of course this was how it was bound to be. This is the country we’ve become.

If we weren’t currently living through this novel’s speculative world of a global coronavirus pandemic, I’m not really sure Lawrence Wright’s The End of October would be of much intere
4.5 rounded down, since I’m sparing with 5-star ratings. Roxane Gay found this novel problematic & poorly written, but as it happens, I couldn’t get through Bad Feminist despite being one myself because she comes off as having such a giant chip on her shoulder she reminds me of my obese abused & spiteful mother too much, so like, whatever, Roxane.

A pandemic situation eerily close to our own, but with much more sinister implications (or so one fervently hopes). One of my favourite novels this ye
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
A book about a pandemic might seem as though it’s too close to home but this was a fun romp for me. I love these types of books. They remind me of when I read a lot of Robin Cook, Michael Crichton, etc. books.

Even during a terrifying pandemic, I still enjoy medical thrillers, even this one about a pandemic.

Great characters about whose fate I cared, including the antiheroes.

Though the reader is told Americans are panicking and the virus is spreading at first it didn’t seem that way but then eve
Jun 30, 2020 added it
Shelves: fiction, pandemic
The Hook It seems like yesterday but is now many years ago that I listened to my first podcast episode of
Books On The Nightstand hosted by Ann Kingman & Michael Kindness. Though friends both had a lot of Readers' Advisory or book talk skills as Sales Reps for Random House, now Penguin Random House. The first episode was on March 26, 2008 in July of 2016. Over the years I grew very fond of both hosts, their easy camaraderie, their polished podcast format and their stellar recommendations. Thank
Julie Christine
For its prescient parallels to the current pandemic, the awesomeness of its research and use of fact to create a chillingly-real fictional world, I award The End of October five bright shiny stars. The first half of this medical thriller had me enthralled. I wore out my neck by nodding in recognition at the dimwitted vice president who is tapped to lead the White House crisis team, to the runs on stores, the frustration of public health officials at the brain-blowingly bungled response from the ...more
Maria Espadinha
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An Almost Prophecy

A deadly virus started somewhere in Asia and is now spreading at an alarming rate!... Like an octopus with a tiny head and infinite arms, it is now traveling to the whole world, leaving a trail of death wherever it goes...

Does it ring a bell?!

It really sounds familiar but it’s not a karaoke version! In fact, Lawrence Wright started writing “The End of October” in the year 2017 and the final draft was over in 2019.

Gosh! Is this guy a prophet?!...

Well... pandemics happened befo
L.A. Starks
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
*spoiler alert*
Great thriller that starts with a pandemic and escalates to global bioweapons and an apocalyptic ending. Well-researched and very timely: readers will be comparing notes--especially at the beginning of the book--with our current coronavirus pandemic.

Somewhat political in the standard way (wearying); the antagonist is somewhat cliche also (for a different take on Scandinavian characters read The Women of the Copper Country by Maria Doria Russell), and the bit about the US taking th
May 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
There is a fascination in reading a pandemic novel during a pandemic - yes - but that doesn’t save this novel. Thin bland characters, lumbering dialogue, and everywhere there should be momentum there’s only inertia

The book pauses at one point to tell us that the lead male is a considerate and patient lover.....that about sums it up - wayward unfocused writing.

A real shame
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Too many plot holes and clunky writing. The "hero" was a complete idiot. Some sections are excruciatingly detailed and then other times the story seems to skip over major events. I read the first quarter and then skimmed to the end. ...more
Jul 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, it's incredible that the author wrote this before the current pandemic and yet very closely describes a response to a pandemic that mirrors what has happened with COVID-19. This is a very well researched book and for perhaps the first half I was very engaged. But then it lost steam and went off in strange directions. I had some issues with plot holes and the writing and I think there was too much going on by the end. Rounding up from 2 1/2 stars. ...more
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There is more than one author with this name

Lawrence Wright is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, screenwriter, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and fellow at the Center for Law and Security at the New York University School of Law. He is a graduate of Tulane University, and for two years taught at the American University in Cairo in Egypt.

Wright graduated from Woodrow Wilson High

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The beauty of a paperback novel is multidimensional. Allow me to explain: The format allows you to catch up on some of 2020's biggest books...
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“If you paid any attention to the role of disease in human affairs, you’d know the danger we’re in. We got smug after all of the victories over infection in the twentieth century, but nature is not a stable force. It evolves, it changes, and it never becomes complacent. We don’t have the time or resources now to do anything other than fight this disease. Every nation on earth has to be involved whether you think of them as friends or enemies. If we’re going to save civilization, we have to fight together and not against each other.” 10 likes
“DISEASES HAVE A history of stirring up conspiracies. Jews were held responsible for the Black Plague in the fourteenth century, and they were massacred in hundreds of European cities, including two thousand Jews burned alive in Strasbourg, France, on Valentine’s Day, 1349.” 3 likes
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