A fatal virus—a biowarfare experiment unleashed on an unsuspecting world—has reduced the once-mighty United States to a smattering of tribes dueling for survival in the lawless wilderness. The disease-free folk known as Settlers barricade themselves in small villages, determined to keep out the highly contagious Spewers—infected humans who cannot die from the virus but spread the seeds of death from the festering blisters that cover their bodies.
Tanner Kline is a trained Sweeper, sworn to exterminate Spewers roaming the no-man’s-land surrounding his frightened community. As all Settlers do, Tanner dismisses them as little more than savages—until he meets his match in Spewer protector Lila. But when hunter and hunted clash, their bloody tango ignites a firestorm of fear and hatred. Now, no one is safe from the juggernaut of terror that rages unchecked, and the fate of humanity hangs on questions with no answers: Who’s right, who’s wrong . . . and who’s going to care if everyone’s dead?
This is an end-of-the-world story, but it’s not your typical every day story. There are different groups of people: those infected and those not. The infected are exiled and exterminated to keep the infection out of the colonies. Each colony has what are called Sweepers. They are the ones that go out and protect the people from the infected or “Spewers” as they are referred to. The Spewers seem to be normal people, with the exception that they are infected with a deadly virus and can make everyone sick. They are trying to survive the best way they know how while living with the virus. Each side has their own way of life that they are trying to protect, but who’s is the right one to protect?
The story is told from both perspectives: from Tanner Kline, a Sweeper and Lila, a spewer. Each one sees the other group as a threat and someone to eliminate should they have the opportunity. It seems as though the non-infected people have the better technology and weapons, while the infected live more primitively. Does that mean that they deserve to be hunted and killed on site? What about the children who appear as though they aren’t infected, but tend to show symptoms later in life? These are questions that Tanner decides that he is going to answer Yes to, no matter what the cost. Lila, on the other hand, seems to think with more than her “trigger finger.” She seems more analytical and compassionate towards the non-infected. However, given the chance, she and the other Spewers can give just as good as they get.
I was hooked into this novella pretty much from page 1. I was drawn in by the writing and the vivid descriptions of everything. I felt the anger, the drama, the tension and anxiety that these characters felt. I tried to decide which group should ultimately be the reigning group and you want to root for the non-infected because of obvious reasons. But if the Spewers are more compassionate and the non-infected are more trigger happy, then what does that say if they are eliminated? It is a tough dilemma. I would really have liked this to be a longer story. I think that I have so many unresolved feelings and questions that it is difficult for me to decide who is right and who is wrong in this story. I understood both sides and could relate to their individual feelings, I just can’t pick which side is correct in this conflict. I don’t know how I would react to either of their situations. I just know that I would hope that whatever decision I made that I could make it for the right reasons. I do know one thing for sure: I will be downloading and reading more of William Todd Rose’s works.
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