Review: Shankari Chandran – The Barrier

The Barrier
Shankari Chandran

Spy-come-virologist Noah Williams is on the hunt for a rogue scientist who wants to eliminate humanity by allowing Ebola to reemerge from its vaccinated hiding place. But as Noah comes to understand this once-proud scientist he wonders whether he’s chasing the right ghost – or whether the issue is closer to home.

Noah’s perspective is interspersed with his mentor’s and a potential love interest. This gives the reader a bit of variety, and also makes them feel Noah’s growing sense of horror as he realises what he and others have done in the name of safety. I wanted to be horrified when Noah tortured people, but I just wasn’t. I felt as numb as he did.

I loved how the author poked holes in the anti-vaccinators who don’t want their children to be immune to Ebola. The parallels with people these days who don’t vaccinate their kids against mumps or polio are clear. There are always going to be those people who want the right to kill their own children – but it shouldn’t be at the expense of others. *Deep breaths Rose, deep breaths.* I have little time for people who are so ignorant as to let deadly diseases come back because they don’t trust safe vaccinations or ‘believe’ in them.

I found it very interesting that the author chose religion as the cause of the world’s near-ending. Ebola just happened to be helpful in destroying the world and allowing religion to be removed. No mention of Australia in this one! I wonder if we survived the outbreak because people simply forgot about our existence again…

I agree with the author that viral/biological warfare will be the next World War and that it probably is only a matter of time before something goes wrong. This theme is one that is being extensively explored at the moment by novels including NK3 and Killer T. Others see the potential of science to heal such as Sapient and The Ego Cluster. Nevertheless, it’s inevitable, and unavoidable that eventually something like this will happen.

I’m highly recommending this novel for scientists and non-scientists alike. The level of biochemical detail isn’t too daunting, and hopefully some people will take away a positive message from it. 4 stars.

Pan Macmillan | 30th May 2018 | AU$29.99 | paperback

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