Lowell Reading Club: End of the World Edition

Be aware that Amazon links on this page are affiliate links. As part of the Amazon Associate program, qualifying purchases made through these links may result in us earning a commission. You may also be able to find these books through the Bookshop site for Bettie’s Pages, Lowell’s used book store.

Gee, just last month we were featuring sweet books about love. Now our hearts are definitely beating faster, but it’s for a different reason. As the disease COVID-19 spreads across the country, it’s hard not to feel like the world around us is falling apart. We thought we’d lean into that theme for this month’s book club.

With any luck, these harrowing tales will get your mind off current events and make you thankful that you aren’t stuck in one of these stories instead.

Amanda’s Picks

The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch
4 out of 5 stars

In The Gone World, Shannon Moss is charged with trying to solve the murder of a Navy SEAL. In order to help her gather information, she travels to the future. A future that is apparently in the balance with the extinction of humans. Is she able to solve the mystery and save the end of the human race?

This book was a lot to take in. There’s quite a bit to keep track of and even understand. And while there are some wowing twists and turns throughout, parts of the book dragged for me. It’s like I lost interest in what was going on, even when looking back at those parts knowing how things end up. Still, I was interested enough to keep reading. And it’s those ‘what if’ type thoughts conjured up by this book that made me like it overall.

Pines by Blake Crouch
5 out of 5 stars

In Pines, the main character is a Secret Service agent sent to Wayward Pines, Idaho to investigate two missing agents. As Ethan Burke investigates, he begins to realize that something strange is happening in the town and to him. He’s not able to get in touch with his wife and son – or anyone else outside of the town. The residents of Wayward Pines all seem distant. Ethan is able to unravel what’s going on but will he be able to handle the truth?

It’s hard to say too much about the plot without giving away key points. But if you enjoy reading sci-fi/suspense/thriller/mystery type books, check this one out. It’s the first book in a trilogy and there’s also a two-season TV series based on the books.

Maryalene’s Picks

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
5 out of 5 stars

My teen daughter put this YA book in my hands in 2014 and told me to read it. It’s been six years, and Life as We Knew It still sticks with me.

Set in present day, the story involves a (surely) unrealistic premise. A meteor knocks the moon closer to Earth, and that small change wreaks all sorts of havoc on the environment. There are earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic explosions that block out the sun. Miranda, whose journal we’re reading, is plunged into a new world in which schools are cancelled, friends move away and what seems like an eternal winter sets in.

However, this is all a slow burn, and I think that’s what made it so engaging (terrifying?) for me. It’s not a meteor blast, and the world explodes into chaos. Instead, it’s a slow descent into the unknown. While much of the story is bleak, the ending felt hopeful.

The book spurred several sequels. The Dead and the Gone relays the same events as Life as We Knew It but from the perspective of a teen in New York City. That was also a five star book for me. However, the third book – This World We Live In – wasn’t as good in my opinion and only gets two stars. Apparently, there is now a fourth installment, but I haven’t read it.

The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston
3 out of 5 stars

This is a nonfiction book about Ebola which seems timely given the current pandemic. I actually didn’t give it a great rating when I read it in 2018 mainly because I think the author may have oversold the premise of the book. After finishing it, I also read that the author was criticized by some scientists for sensationalizing the effects of the disease.

The Hot Zone is supposed to be about the origins of Ebola, but it’s really more about a few outbreaks of Ebola and a related virus. The main narrative is about an outbreak in a monkey house, and that felt overly dramatized and, ultimately, much ado about nothing.

While Ebola is obviously a devastating virus, the book didn’t terrify me. On the contrary, I found it oddly reassuring. The main message I took away from the book is that although deadly, Ebola is relatively difficult to contract.

In light of current events, it also comforts me to think that while Ebola was threatening humanity nearly 30 years ago, modern medicine and technology has contained it since then. It makes me optimistic that it is only a matter of time before medical scientists and doctors develop treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus. Right now, we just need to all stay home so we can buy that time for the experts to work their magic.

What have you been reading to pass the time? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.