In the core of The Serenity Strain is a family of three, Mark and Lauryn who are two weeks shy of a divorce, and their teenage daughter Megan (Teenage Angst Inc.), who despite their estrangement from eachother come together again simply to survive. And three hurricanes coming along your way definitely counts as an emergency situation me would think where it is justified to hold on true to what one knows. There are also many a quiet moments of self-reflection when and how their marriage went wrong, or a complexity of emotions & situations. How to deal with love and life in their different and many shapes and forms when training and education aside, instincts sets in.
"She´d pull Megan to the other side of her, away from wherever the perceived theat was. Lauryn´s actions were instinctive, without conscious thought; there was nothing educated, refined, or civilized about them. Something had flipped her survival switch."
It reminds of course, despite a different location and time, of when Katrina wrecked havoc to New Orleans, and many a description I read about sounds awfully familiar, coincidental or not. What I love how the force of mother nature is so much a part of the story, a different character in its own right. The hurricanes are alive as much as every single protagonist. And as scary.
At the same time the so-called Serenity Six, prison inmates, are the guinea pigs for Prof Stavros, a him full of himself if there ever was one. A typical scientist, so to speak.
"If I co-authored a paper with God on all this, (...) I wonder if He´d want first position as co-author? (...) How about a little professional courtesy and give me the first position, Lord Of All Creation?".
Gene manipulation to "improve" behavior is some scary stuff, and as it is sociopaths are maybe not the best test subjects to tinker with.
"Marsten embraced the belief of the insane that he could bend reality to his will purely by desiring its compliance."
Ethical boundaries crossed it´s like a Pandora´s Box. You cannot stuff it back in. Ever. And personally I´d rather not find myself in the company of those "manipulated", never mind if the intentions of those in the power are good.
And if this isn´t enough Id comes to life, an ancient goddess who as it seems does not do evil herself exactly, but thrives from those who do. The death and dying are her fuel. And there are hints of something... someone more sinister, more evil to come as one could imagine right now. He Who Is To Come. A more ancient, more devilish god of sorts.
Id collects the Serenity Six as their generals of anarchy, and all those inmates who escaped as her Black Hand. Murderers, rapists or child molesterers. The definite collection of evil. Not a salvation army of mercy exactly.
There are quite a few different storylines, which come together naturally the more the story progresses forward. Everything ties together smoothly until the big showdown. A melting pot of meticiously researched weather phenomens, gene manipulation, fantasy and as the icing on the cake some horror-ible elements on top as the cherry pie.
The characters are fully fleshed out, complex in their different beings, who grow mentally, adapt and learn from situations they find themselves in. Even a man like Stavros can redeem himself due his scientific curious mind to get to the core of the matter why things went from "oh shit" to pure evil. But whatever happens, DO NOT PRESS THE RED BUTTON!
And damnit, there is some pretty damn fine prose between the pages. A beautifully written tale of survival in an uncertain world of loss and regrets and wonders.
The Serenity Strain was for me the most emotional read so far in the Apocalypse Weird world. Especially at the end some tears were shed, overwhelmed from those nightmares one cannot fully escape. From the suffering, the loss and the sacrifices made; some out of love, some because evil demands them.
Oh, and Jasper, stupid lovely dog, take a good care of yourself, will you?