Today’s book review is for ‘Phage‘ by first-time author,
Here’s a synopsis from Amazon:
Phage is the first novel of a science thriller trilogy. Dr. Sam Townsend faces the greatest challenge of his career, preventing Owen Potter, a deranged government scientist and home-grown terrorist, from unleashing a genetically-engineered pathogen on the United States population. This would-be mass assassin frames Townsend, who is forced to run from the FBI while scrambling to produce the antidote and wrestle the demons from his past. Even if Townsend succeeds in time, he is still faced with delivering the antidote to all of Potter’s victims who unknowingly have a biological time bomb ticking in their bodies.
I thank Mark for providing me a copy of the book to perform this book review. If you’re interested in having your book reviewed, please contact me at: [email protected]
Dr. Tamplin, Mark, has the credentials and writes what he knows — which is pretty scary. He points to how vulnerable we are to biological terrorism due to the mobility of folks who can spread an infection quickly.
First, let me point out some of the many strengths of the book.
Phage does a good job of building suspense by bobbing back and forth between different groups, the FBI hunting for Dr. Townsend and for Dr. Potter, the protagonists themselves, Dr. Townsend’s doctoral students, and a mysterious past.
Because he has personal experience with the situations and places discussed in the book, readers can relate to them and see them in his/ her mind’s eye. This contributes to the realism of the situations and makes the scenarios believable without boring the reader with a bunch of technical details.
In fact, he does a great job to ensure readers with little or no training in medical science can follow the action. Nicely balancing the scientific underpinning in terms easily available to the average reader with enough action and mystery to motivate readers to become emotionally involved in the story, Dr. Tamplin follows in the footsteps of previous best-selling authors like Michael Crichton.
I would make some recommendation for improvement, as Dr. Tamplin moves on to his next book:
I think some of his characters need more development. This is hard and I don’t think I always do a good job with this myself, but it’s important for the readers to feel an emotional connection with the characters.
I don’t find the continued search for Sam by the FBI realistic after they’ve determined that he was framed for a crime. It seems more realistic that the FBI would focus on capturing Dr. Potter, who they become increasingly convinced is a serious danger.
In some cases, solutions appear without any build-up, that makes them seem unrealistic. For instance, the suggestion to use butterflies to deliver the phage and the fact that his doctoral student is from the place where the butterflies congregate doesn’t ring true. I would build this fact more into the backstory of the student so when it comes out later, it feels more natural.
I highly recommend you pick up a copy of ‘Phage‘ (you can use this link to take you to Amazon).