Most captivating is a paranoid doomsday-prepper who lives with his two young daughters — and has been waiting for a day like this ... Walker uses evocative language to describe the almost bewitching nature of contagion ... The novel reads like a thriller, with every chapter — sometimes every scene — ending on a cliffhanger.
Walker has a gift for spooling out [the novel's] details, as if we are kittens and she is trailing string ... Walker needs to keep the plots of her novels spinning, like plates on sticks. When the action slows, you realize what a limited and sentimental novelist she too often is ... None of these characters says or does an interesting thing. Anarchic instincts and impure thoughts are kept to the barest minimum. Minds race in neutral. Reading this book’s bland dialogue is like watching players on center court use dead tennis balls ... Walker knows what to do when she’s sinking her initial hooks into her readers. But she’s such a mild writer here that a true sense of menace is never allowed to bloom.
[Walker] presents even the most heartbreaking details... as if they’re simply the facts of life in stressful times ... But, while Walker is ruthless in insisting that the disease strikes at random (meaning: no, being adorable will not save a newborn), she seems reluctant to make us invest too heavily in any of the novel’s dozens of characters ... Walker writes beautifully about the things that define how a society either endures or collapses in crisis, a theme that may never have been more timely than it is now.