What’s left behind certainly isn’t great, but it’s bearable - just. Illegal immigrants are a constant threat and in a world rocked by pandemic, they are far from welcome. The country’s borders are well and truly closed and surveillance and searches are the norm. It’s a price worth paying, so they say.
Callie Hannigan has only ever worked for the Security Services, it’s all she knows, as is the Sickness. She’s committed to her job, to keeping the country safe from infection, to upholding the law. Day in, day out, that’s what she does.
Following a shock betrayal and a chance encounter, Callie is launched on her most critical mission yet, caught up in a desperate race against time. She’s still working for the government, but which one and why? And what can possibly be worse than a global pandemic?
The only thing Callie knows for sure is that millions of lives hang in the balance. And time is running out.
I spend a lot of time in my head conversing with imaginary friends, enemies and inhabitants of other lives that are a dark reflection of the world as it is now. Which, given the state of the world right now, is pretty damn dark.
My debut novel, Anti-Virus, has had me ensnared me in its grim, dystopian world for a long time now. From scribbles on scraps of paper, to notebooks, to digital media, it has clawed its way into a full-length novel. Whether I liked it or not.
Anti-Virus is now unleashed! There, that’s put the cat among the pigeons. Join me for the journey, why don’t you?
A highly topical read given the current state of the world. This is a novel that starts powerfully and promises a plot of tense and sophisticated politics and intrigue in a near-distant dystopian Britain. After being attacked and left disfigured whilst working in the field, agent Callie fears the world outside the relative safety of her flat and works online gathering information, like a spider crouched at the centre of the information web. But she has no idea of the true horror of life in Britain nor what devastating future the people in power have planned for it.
Well-written, this is a novel that packs a powerful punch, but it did get a little confusing towards the end. This confusion was partly caused by a lack of enough distinction between a character’s thoughts and their words, so sometimes I was left wondering why another character hadn’t reacted to someone giving the whole plot away, before realising it had only been thought not spoken out loud. Perhaps the author could consider using italics to differentiate instead of the normal font in single speech marks for thoughts as this was similar to the normal font in double speech marks used for dialogue.
But apart from this, Anti-Virus is a strong debut novel – well deserving of the four stars I have awarded it – and shows the author has a clear and well-defined voice that will stand them in good stead in all future novels.
Anti-Virus is a prescient and timely novel in the vein of 1984 and Silent Spring. Following a traumatic encounter, government operative Callie lives a listless, anxious life, trapped within the walls of her flat. But as the border between England and Wales is militarised, tensions stir in the Red Zone, and her girlfriend Jak's behaviour becomes ever more suspicious, Callie must decide whether she can challenge her fear and face the world of the Sickness beyond her front door.
I thought Callie's struggle with anxiety and agoraphobia was explored so well at the beginning of the novel. The opening of the novel in general, with Callie trapped in her flat as the country and her 'new normal' life seems to fall apart around her, I thought was incredibly strong. I challenge anyone to read this novel and not recognise parts of their own life during the pandemic. As the novel progresses, I would have wished for a bit more emphasis on Callie's internal development. However, the plot unfolds layer by layer, as shocking twists are revealed that, again, felt highly relevant to today's world. Highly recommended for fans of dystopia.
I received this novel as an arc (advanced readers copy) from the author, this novel is amazing, it twists and turns, pulls you in from the first page. I loved the characters and found myself rooting for them to foil the bad guys! This story is beautifully written and I recommend it 100% for everyone to read. As they say, it was a brave new world! Check it out guys!
*Thank you to the author for sending me a free ARC copy in exchange for an honest review
Anti-Virus is a phenomenal debut adult dystopian novel that takes place in post-pandemic Great Britain, where citizens live a rigid life as they desperately cling to some semblance of normality. Here, we follow Callie, our smart, tactical, and complex protagonist. Her entire life she's worked for the Secret Services, genuinely believing she was working for the greater good of the country and the people... until one day she's thrust into a chasm of secrets that make her question everything.
What absolutely loved about this books is that it was DARK. As a teen, I of course loved books like The Hunger Games, The Giver, and most of the other popular dystopian works, but as an adult, I've found my taste has shifted more toward the dark, more sinister types of stories that those books don't quite fit. Anti-Virus, however, is exactly the story I needed. It's full of action, suspense, and doesn't shy away from pulling you into a world that's beautifully bleak and hopeless.
McMillan is an incredibly talented author with beautiful (but not too flowery) prose, lovable complex characters that feel so real, and a talent for leaving you asking questions at every turn.
This book is exactly what the dystopian genre needed!
Callie gets scared in a incident while on a mission and becomes a recluse. Her gf Jak works for a charity but secretly sneaks people out of the Red Zone. After a fire and a kiss on air, Callie turns Jak in. Then Callie is approached by men looking to save England but they need both Jak and Callie to do it.
Definitely an interesting story given the current times. Callie goes from being scared of her own shadow to fighting for her life. I was sad to see Pete leave, cutting her off. Also found it interesting how scarce food was but everyone had cigarrettes. Highly recommend.
I was lucky enough to be a part of Freya’s ARC team for Anti-Virus. It’s a book that starts slowly but is far from plodding, instead it wraps you in a the human interest aspects that make the novel great; before you’re even sure where you are going you’ll be snared in the tension of a multitude of relationships. Once the plot really starts to kick in, it’s over in a flash not because it’s too short or underwritten, but because you won’t be able to put the book down. A great read, but definitely one you should steel your heart for.
If you are even slightly intrigued by the dystopian genre, this book will surely make you a fan. Do not let the slow start throw you off, the author is crafting a complex world thats pace will soon quicken and suck you into a wonderfully dark, action filled story full of mystery and well developed characters. Set in post-pandemic Britain, this all too relatable story gave me goosebumps. It warms my heart that such a well written and original peice comes in the form of Freya McMillan's debut novel.
A well-grounded, professionally created dystopian thriller from a well-grounded author.
Welcome to the world of Anti-Virus! Are you sure you’d wish to stay?!
The different Britain is here, separated, closed from the world, and exhausted by the Sickness. Is it still Great? Government says so. Callie Hannigan is the former Security Service dealing with personal struggles. She is a good citizen, and she doesn’t have reasons to thing differently until an unexpected encounter reveals new shocking information. The situation is turned upside down, and now it’s up to her how to act. And there is far more than just her and her closed ones life on stake.
There are many things I loved about Anti-Virus. One of them is the scale. We start to follow Callie and her close circle, and it is a personal story in the beginning. But then the scale of the story expands and takes us to the whole new horizons. It is not easy for an author to stay plausible on this scale, and it’s an amazing pleasure to find really well written story of this level. This is definitely one of the best!
I could really relate to the main character, Callie. Her mixed emotions towards her beloved one, took over me. Together with her, I felt doubts, confusion, disbelief. She is in different situation, but her emotions are so human, so understandable, and so well described that you will be taken into the binge reading. Guaranteed!
For me the dystopian world of Anti-Virus appeared to be so realistic that it was scary to continue reading sometimes! There are countries that actually take such course of informational and physical isolation to “protect” their people. I wonder how Anti-Virus author could feel and catch the vibe so precisely! Bravo. And the message she shares with me, with all of us - please, don’t. Don’t isolate yourself, whatever scale it is, personal or state. Isolation never works.
Sharing and support does.
Thank you for amazing, thrilling reading with the deepest message inside! Highly recommended!
I found Freya McMillan’s debut Anti-Virus to be intriguing and highly disturbing — in all the right ways.
We’re catapulted in the world of post-pandemic Great Britain (… sounds familiar?) where, following a near-cataclysmic virus spread, the nation lives tightly controlled, with every aspect of people’s existence strictly regimented by the government. For Callie, former field agent for the secret services, it’s all for the greater good. But the day she stumbles upon something that shakes her to her core and starts pulling at loose threads, her blindly idealistic vision of the system she serves all comes crumbling around her.
Anti-Virus is suspenseful and dark and uncomfortably familiar in so many ways. I loved following Callie and her kick-ass girlfriend Jak through a maze of secrets and conspiracies, and was amazed at the level of detail the author put into building such a convincing plot. All the way through, it had me thinking that some of these scenarios were not so far from the realms of possibilities — especially after the last couple of years we’ve all endured.
I’d have to say my favourite part of the book was watching Callie’s character evolve and grow. From a terrified recluse dealing with incredible trauma to a woman ready to face her own demons to do what’s right. Freya McMillan’s handling of that delicate transition was masterful, and I enjoyed every bit of it.
I loved Anti-Virus — it’s brilliant and eerie and beautifully spooky, a must read for any fan of dystopian fiction with a highly realistic feel.
I was given a free ARC reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Without giving too much away this is a good thriller and an enjoyable read. Anti-Virus is set in an England that few people would like to live, a truly dystopian world that Freya has created. Before long you can feel yourself empathising with Callie, the protagonist of this well crafted story. You are lead on a journey into the dark world where people hide from their own friends and neighbours lest they become infected or worse, taken by their government.
I will say that I had a few expectations before I read the book from the snippets that I had read on Instagram. But the Freya went way beyond those expectations and took me through the labyrinth and minefield of Callie’s life. The author takes the time to get you into the mindset of the protagonist and delves into her deepest fears without diminishing mental health issues, treating them with the deliverance and respect that they require.
Deception and fear have arrived at Callie’s door and entered into her already troubled life. She must overcome her fears to re-enter decaying London. Tensions are high as Callie is forced through circumstances into a world of subterfuge and lies as her life seemingly falls apart around her. Freya does a good job to bring those fears to the page as you feel the terror that Callie faces. As the stakes rise I genuinely felt for Callie’s life. Building to a crescendo that will have you on the edge of your seat.
This is a slow burn with an explosive finish that will have you pouring over every word. This was an ARC copy of the novel Anti-Virus I was given for review.
Anti-Virus is a fantastic read from start to finish. It took me a little while to get into the first few chapters but I definitely think that was more due to my own scheduling conflicts. Once I was a few chapters in I could not put this book down! I stayed up one night reading until I physically couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.
The storyline is so fresh and brings a new perspective not only to dystopian novels, but to the world we are living in currently.
Anti-virus doesn’t shy away from the perils of a pandemic or the eventualities that can arise when it happens, and Freya has done a great job with world building, creating lovable, and unlovable characters as well as a story that keeps on giving.
Anti-virus also didn’t pussyfoot around the idea of corruption and betrayal, but simply showed how matter of fact these things can be in a modern world. Freya did a fantastic job of showing what it’s like to have to be cold, calculated and on your toes whilst simultaneously being anxious, neurotic and afraid of what comes next.
Overall I loved this book, my only complaint? I wish there was a little more to the ending. I can fully appreciate the ending as is, but I was craving just a little more explanation and a little bit more of a peek at how the world looks after the events of Anti-virus.
It’s 5 stars from me, if I could give this book more, I absolutely would!
This debut novel by Freya McMillan is an impressively crafted post-apocalyptic and dystopian world. With eerie parallels to our current pandemic, this book will immerse you in its dark and global-warming-affected future.
It holds a likeness to 1984 with its oppressed society, the neglected red zone and the style and delivery of the main character’s POV. It also has an array of suspicious side characters which I loved! With all that being said though, this work holds its own unique and rightful place amongst the roster of other dark and thought-provoking fictional stories of this genre.
I would have liked to see a villainous POV behind the political, environmental and virus related happenings! But that desire is purely out of a keen interest to know more about the world and characters and it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story whatsoever.
The most epic of noir spy thrillers meet dystopia in McMillan’s debut. The originality was, by far, one of the things I enjoyed the most about this: there is certainly not a manuscript out there that encompasses the rhythmic writing, dynamic world building, and the diverse, fully fleshed out characters like Anti-Virus. Some parts of this definitely gave me V for Vendetta vibes (one of my favourite movies of all time) so I’d definitely say this is a must read!