The Genius Plague Review (Sci-Fi Thriller)

Title: The Genius Plague | Author: David Walton | Publisher: Pyr | Pub. Date: 2017-10-3 | Pages: 390 | ISBN13: 9781633883437 | Genre: Science Fiction & Thriller | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the publicist for review consideration

The Genius Plague

What if the pandemic you thought would kill you made you more intelligent instead? In the Amazon jungle, a disease is spreading. To those who survive, it grants enhanced communication, memory, and pattern recognition. But the miracle may be the sinister survival mechanism of a fungal organism, manipulating the infected into serving it.

Paul Johns, a mycologist, is convinced the fungal host is the next stage of human evolution, while his brother Neil, an analyst at the NSA, is committed to its destruction. Is the human race the master in this symbiotic relationship, or are we becoming the pawns of a subtly dominating and utterly alien intelligence?

Book cover for The Genius Plague

The Genius Plague Review

I read a lot of horror because I like to be scared. Generally, I prefer that fear to be on a ‘not possibly real’ level, hence my love of paranormal horror.  When I read science fiction, it’s the opposite. I’m generally hoping for hope and for awesome visions of the future.  I’m not expecting to have the, erm, spore scared out of me.

But David Walton’s The Genius Plague managed to do exactly that.

The fungi that threatens to the end the world is a fairly common plot device right now. Cordyceps is everyone’s new favorite villain it would seem. But Walton takes the burgeoning fungi fear, and turns the shambling hordes into geniuses with a common goal. And you know what’s scarier than a bunch of mindless zombies? A bunch of geniuses with a common goal and an excessive urge to be ‘generous’.

The Genius Plague is a sci-fi thriller that had me mentally shuddering because the possibilities were horrifying. Especially when we start ‘fighting back’. (It’s so hard to write this without spoiling anything!) There were several moments when I would read something, and then just close the book, sit back for a moment and think “Well, crap!” Because I could see it happening. I could see so many aspects of this book happening.

Also, I have to give the author credit for something. I believe this book is the very first time I’ve ever seen a male author write a male character breaking down. Normally they either man up or do something stupid to not break down. One particular character has a moment where everything hits him, and not only does Walton let it happen, but he writes it in such a way that you instantly think “Well, yeah, of course he’s having problems right now!”

Well-written, exquisitely paced, and mentally stimulating, The Genius Plague is truly one of those books you must read. It has short chapters, a handful of characters, and drama that hits at your heartstrings if you’ve ever had a loved one with degenerative brain disease. It’s not a book that will blow you away, but it’ll take root in your mind in unexpected ways.