Wormwood by Michael James McFarland reminds me of The Jakarta Pandemic, but with the most wicked reanimating virus I have ever come across in any plot. Wormwood was as emotionally devastating as the ending of Dead Sea by Brian Keene. Divided into eight parts, the POV switches between characters, depending on who is the focus of each section, and has a great mix of action, gore, drama – everything you could want in an apocalypse story.
The cast of characters had a terrific range; McFarland didn’t rely on typical stereotypes, and the imperfections of the group of neighbors living on Quail Street added to the realism of the story. Wormwood hooks the readers with a description of graphic video footage in the beginning, and then the survivors keep the story going with striking dialogue and thoughts of inner turmoil, emphasizing how quickly some people can change when others exploit a bad situation.
In the part titled, The Navaros, McFarland zeros in on one family’s personal reaction to the approaching outbreak ( a few days back in the timeline), which was heart-wrenching. In another part, when a search party is sent out for more medical supplies, readers catch a glimpse of the devastation beyond the cul-de-sac, and new survivors enter the story. Those characters carry the theme of losing one’s faith. Only one character, Shane, shows us a glimmer of hope, suggesting that even an underdog can rise to the occasion.