The idea of a viral outbreak isn’t exactly new, but The Flu by Jaqueline Druga is anything but typical. It maintains a level of distinction even beyond the apocalyptic and outbreak thriller genres.
A particularly deadly strain of the flu escapes a facility in Alaska, and by chance and relayed through expertly executed dramatic irony, the virus makes it to Barrow. Then it hitches a ride with a journalist to LA, and well, you know how this goes. Druga spares us an attempt at building suspense through being coy here. We know there’s an outbreak, and she spends only enough time to set it up and make it feel legitimate and authentic without feeling tiring or exhaustive.
Meanwhile, in the small town of Lodi, Ohio, people are going on about their lives, feeling safe from the events they’re hearing about on the news but which are thousands of miles away. And here is one note of distinction for The Flu. Unlike a typical thriller, Druga features a strong character element, ultimately making the story exceptionally relateable. Titling the novel “The Flu” is almost a tactic in misdirection in that this is not so much a story about a viral outbreak as it is about lovably crafted characters and how they fare in the face of that challenge. You might think this isn’t such an important distinction, but it is. There’s depth here. Druga makes us fall in love with the people she’s created, and as a result, we feel their pains as they suffer, their joys as they succeed. As a result, The Flu is an exceptionally powerful entry in the genre.Continue reading “Review: The Flu by Jacqueline Druga”