The best nonfiction, in my mind, reads like a novel. It's filled with compelling characters and takes you to a place you'd never otherwise experience. It tells a story that grabs you by the throat and won't let you stop reading. Cabin Fever falls into that category, with frightening similarities to other narrative nonfiction I couldn't put down ... While the people at the core of the story talk about their terror and coping strategies during the worst of their confinement in small cabins (some without windows), I would have liked more reflection from them on how they survived the claustrophobic experience ... But the book does what it sets out to do as a true-life page-turner. Smith, who covered the Zaandam's journey for Bloomberg Businessweek, and South American journalist Franklin have done a masterful job of detailed reporting on what happened, what went wrong and how it all ended.
The writing makes readers feel as if they are there, weathering the ups and downs and unbelievable turns of fate of those on board. It is a riveting true story that will keep people turning pages until the end ... A harrowing thriller that brings the wide-ranging impacts of the COVID pandemic into the microcosmic enclosed world of a cruise ship.
Journalists Smith and Franklin report with vivid detail in this humanizing account of the voyage of anguish and isolation on Holland America’s virus-assaulted Zaandam, revealing the experiences of both crew and passengers ... Though there’s much to explore pertaining to the pandemic and the cruise ship industry, Smith and Franklin chose to focus on the resourcefulness and altruism of the crew. The result is a well-written, fast-paced, real-life thriller highlighting people caught in a nightmare situation and their triumph over adversity.