The Flu by Jacqueline Druga Review & Free book!

The Flu
by Jacqueline Druga
334 Pages
Published by Permuted Press, 3rd Edition November 26, 2013
Genre: Horror

Review by Stevie Kopas

Throughout history there have been several thousand different strains of influenza. Each year hundreds are active. Chances are, this year, you will catch one of those strains. You will cough, sneeze, and your body will ache. Without a second thought, you’ll take a double dose of green liquid, go to bed, and swear you’ll feel better in the morning.

Not this time. In 1918 forty million people succumbed to a particular strain of swine flu. It appeared out of nowhere, and just as quickly as it surfaced, the Spanish Flu vanished. Gone for good. Or so we thought. Though mankind has anticipated its resurfacing for some time, mankind is ill prepared. Mutated and with a vengeance, the Spanish Flu returns.

In a world blackened with plague, a glimmer of light exists in the small town of Lodi, Ohio. They shine as a sanctuary because they are ‘flu-free.’ In the wake of the reality that they are spared, the spirit and strength of Lodi is tested. It becomes a fight against what is morally right or wrong in an increasingly difficult battle to stay healthy and alive until the flu has run its course.

The Flu opens up with a grim description of the effects that a flu-like plague has on its unsuspecting victims.  One day, you’re feeling fit and well, the next down for the count.  Without rhyme or reason, the plague strikes and strikes hard.  I was very intrigued by the premise of this book from the get go.  Beginning in Alaska, you read with white knuckles as the plague spreads from the cold confines of the Pacific Northwest to Los Angeles.  You writhe as the sickness infects and creeps east, finally bringing an entire Nation to its knees.

In the small town of Lodi, Ohio, Chief of Police Mick Owens is everybody’s favorite guy, and our story’s small town hero.  Mick is clearly the story’s protagonist as we are introduced to him very early on, although he is surrounded by many interesting supporting characters.  Dylan Hughes, a fiery woman and loving mother to her three sons, Dustin, Chris and Tigger.  Dylan’s estranged husband, Sam, is in and out of the picture.  A mysterious new teacher arrives in Lodi and the famous Dr. Lars Rayburn returns for his month long holiday just before the plague spreads nationally.  Mick acts quickly, like no other man of his caliber, and will stop at nothing to keep the people of his town and the people he loves the most, safe from all harm.

Lars Rayburn quickly became my favorite character, he was full of wit, charged with intelligence and the necessary means Mick needed in keeping the town of Lodi safe during the darkest time the world has seen since the Spanish Flu.  The friendship that he builds with Lodi Elementary’s new teacher and the mystery surrounding his adoration by the people of Lodi definitely forces you to keep reading.   At the end of the book I was forced to compare the Lars Rayburn mystery to the “Plastic Parrots” joke.  (I would definitely recommend looking that joke up.)

The book overall was a good read.  Where I found it lacking was in the pace of the story.  It isn’t until the second part of the book that you are ever aware of why the town of Lodi, Ohio is even relevant.  The plot line as a whole lacked any real climax or crescendo.  The character development was great, but far too much time was spent on the faults of characters involved in a bizarre love triangle.  The character development was so good in fact that some of the streamlined characters (there purely for filler) didn’t need to be developed at all.  I’m a mature reader, but the mild and random sex scenes scattered here and there honestly took away from the story as a whole and served as mere distractions.

Jacqueline Druga is obviously a talented writer.  I love to encounter fellow female writers in the apocalyptic genre.  She is definitely someone who’s work I will continue to read.  I’ve rated the book a 3 out 5, but only because of what I’ve previously mentioned.  The book ends on a bitter sweet note, bringing an emotional ending to the plague ravaged town, which leaves room for a sequel.  And there is a follow up read to The Flu, which I will definitely be checking out!

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About the Reviewer:

Stevie is the Jersey Girl turned Floridian author of the post apocalyptic survival adventure, The Breadwinner. You can stalk her and talk about video games or the end of the world anytime on Twitter or Facebook.
Twitter:  @ApacoTaco 

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