BEFORE THIS IS OVER by Amanda Hickie
American Release Date: March 28, 2017 (previously published as AN ORDINARY EPIDEMIC in 2015 in Australia)
My Rating: 4/5
Hannah and her family live in the comfort of Sydney, AU’s suburbs when Manba, a virus that presents like a cold, begins to devastate the world’s population. As millions die Hannah becomes hyper-vigilant, much to the bemusement of her husband and her friends. She begins prepping her pantry in the event they need to quarantine themselves and pulls her son from school and herself from work. No one is laughing when a few unconfirmed cases are reported on the continent and, in a matter of days, the virus has shut Sydney down. This is a day-to-day tale of survival in the midst of globalized plague, a speculative novel delving into the best and worst of humanity.
As I arrived in Penn Station, NY, realizing it was time to detach myself from BEFORE THIS IS OVER, I was arrested by a wave of anxiety. The push of people, the germs, the breath, the accidental hand brushing. I began my life in NY a decade ago as a hand-sanitizer-toting, two showers a day, compulsive hand washer. I have since calmed down, but this book and its slow building anxiety made me desperate to return to those protections. The writing infects you (pseudo-pun intended) and this is a tense read for anyone even moderately apprehensive about germs. Hannah is a beautiful character, full of flaws and love, and her family is just as fleshed out. A highly recommended, if stressful, read.