Much of Tremblay’s previous fiction has been marked by a deliberate ambiguity regarding horrific or supernatural elements, but that is not the case here. The horrors of Survivor Song are presented clearly, directly and to visceral effect. Although the novel’s seeming prescience is largely accidental, it reflects a distinct — and distinctly political — point of view. Tremblay’s world is one in which help and medical resources are 'stretched to the breaking point,' exacerbated by 'a myopic, sluggish bureaucracy' and a president 'woefully unprepared to make the rational, science-based decisions necessary.' So, art and life continue to mirror one another. And horror fiction, as practiced by Malerman, Tremblay and a good many others, continues to serve as a bleak but appropriate vehicle for conveying the dangers and distortions of our increasingly incomprehensible age.
Tremblay is an undeniably skillful writer. The sentences are lean where they need to be, decorative where they need to be. He’s especially good at the creepy stuff ... He knows how to drive the story forward, while affording it a layer of linguistic color that makes the whole affair feel vastly more engaging, despite the fact that the viral-zombie conceit is hardly original ... At 300 high-velocity pages, the tale whizzes along, taking barely more time to read than the events it describes ... Yet one has the feeling that Tremblay is reaching for a bigger audience, and in this regard, he has uneven success. Though appealing, the characters Rams and Natalie are thin and familiar, their friendship lacking much complexity or depth ... Lacking the unpredictable forces of personality, the story can go only so many ways, and many readers will see the end of Tremblay’s novel coming a mile off.
Survivor Song is an eerily relevant horror novel ... Tremblay excels at short, breathless novels that pack a visceral and emotional punch, and Survivor Song is no exception ... Unsettling parallels aside, Survivor Song is a breakneck, frightening test of what two people can overcome.