In the face of a pandemic, an unprepared world scrambles to escape the mysterious disease causing sensory damage, nerve loss, and, in most cases, death. Neffy, a disgraced and desperately indebted twenty-seven-year-old marine biologist, registers for an experimental vaccine trial in London—perhaps humanity's last hope for a cure. Though isolated from the chaos outside, she and the other volunteers—Rachel, Leon, Yahiko, and Piper—cannot hide from the mistakes that led them there.
A taut and atmospheric read, an exploration of captivity, sacrifice and survival in a post-apocalyptic world ... Simply and effectively structured ... Fuller holds up a dark mirror to the pandemic ... Fuller writes brilliantly about desire and the heady beginnings of new relationships ... The superb ending ties everything together with a moving, tragic cohesiveness. The bleak twists and sudden shifts forward in time feel earned and in keeping with the world Fuller has created. As her caged animals make a bid for freedom, the reader will applaud their attempts to keep going against the likelihood of their endless numbered days.
It’s a neat trick that Fuller pulls off, weaving together so many familiar threads, from the post-pandemic storyline to the extremity-in-isolation scenario to the life story reconceived under duress, and yet coming up with a new and promising pattern — an authorial performance in keeping with her generous character.
Despite some promising themes and motifs, this is an uneven novel. In part, that’s a reflection of the characters’ states of mind ... Rather gimmicky devices ... The timing of this book’s publication suggests it was written at least partly during Covid lockdowns, when we were all getting a taste of the tense, sealed-in scenarios that Fuller’s fiction ordinarily probes with such mesmerising acuity. Could that be why it seems to struggle with forward momentum?