Review: The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

I started reading this book on an airplane heading from Dallas to Minneapolis for a stop over to Salt Lake. I do not recommend reading this book on an airplane. Not only does the narrative explain how deadly viruses can travel around the world in less than a week on airplanes, but one of the the most gruesome scenes of a man sick with a Level 4 virus occurs on an airplane. I kept glancing at those around me, just waiting for someone to cough or get a nose bleed. I wanted to hold my breath the rest of the way home. At least it made for a very thrilling plane ride, a welcome change from the uncomfortable boredom.

The Hot Zone is the true story of an Ebola outbreak in monkeys near the Washington D.C. area. One of the most disturbing, but engaging nonfiction stories I’ve read, this book is a definite page turner. I couldn’t look away from the carnage and was on the edge of my seat wondering who would get sick next. Richard Preston’s writing is sharp, detailed, but also beautiful – the perfect blend for great nonfiction. He handles the science is such a way that it remains sophisticated, but still understandable. Riveting, scary and incredibly interesting, this is a must read for nonfiction and science fans.

Content note: This book is not for the faint of heart. There are detailed scenes of people sick with unbelievably nasty viruses, that do unthinkable things to the body. There is also a handful of swear words and some violence.

This is our book club read this month. My sister-in-law is hosting and works at a lab. She is hosting club at her lab, so we can see how it works and even look at some diseases under microscopes. Very exciting. I’ll, of course, do a post with pictures after the event next weekend.


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