Review: “Patient Zero,” Terry Tyler

Pros: Good slice-of-life apocalypse stories
Cons: Small things
Rating: 4 out of 5

Terry Tyler’s Patient Zero: Post-Apocalyptic Short Stories apparently is an add-on to her “Project Renova” series. It’s supposed to stand alone, so I thought it might be interesting to read and give me an idea of whether I want to read the actual series. It’s a small collection of short stories set in a post-apocalyptic UK where a virus has wiped out much of the population. I found it mostly stood well alone. The stories aren’t about arc-plot; they’re slice-of-life stories about various people’s experiences during and after the end of things. Because of this they’re relatively low-key. The final story seems to break genre, which is confusing–the protagonist claims to have died and been reborn many times, which doesn’t fit in your average viral apocalypse, and there’s nothing in the other stories that hinted at anything like that. Also one of the stories is called “Evie: Patient Zero,” but there’s really nothing in there that explains the patient zero reference (although the afterword assures us that one of the other books does explain it).

The nine stories provide a nice range of characters and views of the apocalypse. Jared Green’s Uncle Owen gave him two vials of precious vaccine–but Jared’s no longer sure he wants to give the second one to his girlfriend, who’s cheating on him. Flora’s father figured out things were going to go badly and put a bunch of stuff by–but that doesn’t mean her family will have an easy time of things as society fails. Jeff was a prepper who went all-out having a bunker made and stocking it with everything he could need, but he failed to account for the boredom and loneliness.

Karen cared for her sister and her sister’s family as they died, but she remained immune. She laid a heavy burden on her sister as Claire lay dying, and now she’s trying to atone for that. Aaron, who also seems to be immune, set out to find anyone he knows who might still be alive, and ended up at his ex-girlfriend’s house. Meg is waiting for her prison guard husband to return so they can leave their home and go someplace safer, but he’s late.

Ruby, girlfriend to a drug dealer, starts to wonder whether she should really wait for him before getting the hell out of Dodge. Evie is having trouble holding onto her boyfriend Nick, but she’s also having trouble letting go. She just never seems to come first in his life. Martin is the man who’s lived many lives. I’m still utterly confused by this story’s place in the rest of this world.

The stories are interesting, and it’s an enjoyable book if you like viral apocalypses, which I definitely do. There isn’t anything amazing here, but it’s solidly good.

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