It’s about a virus that kills 99% of the population. It takes place in Toronto, Southern Ontario and the Northern U.S. An actor has a heart attack on stage on the night that the virus is brought to Canada from Russia. The story follows people related to the actor, from a girl who witnessed his death on stage to the paramedic who attempted to revive him to his ex-wives and friends.
Though the time and setting jump around between chapters, St. John Mandel weaves it together beautifully. The premise of a virus taking the lives of most of the world was very disturbing to think about. It was especially scary for me since the majority of the story happens in my hometown of Toronto. When the virus first breaks, it is compared to SARS, a virus that affected the city many years ago. However SARS didn’t have the repercussions that the virus in this story had.
The only part of the story that I thought was unnecessary was the subplot involving the paramedic. He was the only character on the outer edges of the main story. I think his part could be completely removed without changing the rest of the plot, making.
I loved this story and I’m so proud that it’s Canadian!