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review 2015-01-26 04:47
Blockbuster - Lisa von Biela

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


In the very near future, a new virus, MRSAII,  has been unleashed and is the cause of thousands of deaths. A competition begins between two BigPharma companies to find the cure, Denali, a successful new lab and Horton, a family owned lab that is struggling to find what is called a 'blockbuster' that will see their lab thrive.

Horton labs thinks it has found a way to compete with Denali but whilst doing so unleashes a new 'superbug' that is even more deadly than MRSAII.


I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand it was pretty entertaining, a very fast paced read that held my interest right up to the end. The other side of the coin is that the characters didn't feel real to me and weren't very likeable. Sylvia is a young scientist working at Horton, when first introduced she appears to have some ethics around her work but these all go out the window when the CEO comes up with a plan to introduce a mutant strain of MRSAII that has mild symptoms and can be easily cured, by them. They will introduce the virus and then market the cure a week or so later, creating a product stream and getting Horton some much needed profit. She immediately jumps on board with this idea without questioning or thinking about the consequences of their actions. This made her an extremely unsympathetic character and one that I couldn't get invested in at all. Another thing I didn't like is that no one is ultimately held accountable for what happens, this is not a gripe against the author as I'm sure that it's only based on how white collar crime is handled today.


The fact that this story centres around corrupt pharma companies makes it especially chilling and it certainly gives food for thought around how many of the world's illnesses are manufactured so that companies can cash in with a ready made cure. Aside from the character issues and my own anger at the subject matter, I did enjoy this read and would recommend it for those that enjoy medical thrillers.

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review 2014-12-23 00:00
Blockbuster - Lisa von Biela I received an ARC copy of this title from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Another fine novel from Darkfuse. I really enjoyed this medical/sci-fi thriller. Very topical in light of recent ebola outbreaks in the states. I would like to think of this as entirely fictional but I can't discount the plausibility of the story line.

Plot driven novel that is well thought out with not a single lull in the action, I read this in two sittings and am definitely interested in reading more of Ms. Von Biela's works.

4 stars from me.
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review 2014-12-20 15:03
Blockbuster by Lisa Von Biela
Blockbuster - Lisa von Biela

Blockbuster is an intriguing medical, pharmaceutical industry thriller come drama that explores the depths this business will plunder to introduce their blockbuster new drug.


This book is all about the horrors and repercussions of introducing viruses and pathogens into the population with the sole intention of turning a profit with a conspicuous cure, seems worryingly feasible, and I've got to say a little too obvious at times.


The drug in question is MRSA-II, a flesh eating nightmare of a pathogen that kills with no remorse, the good old President of the U.S. calls two of the top Pharma companies to the white house and implores them to find a cure. The government will meet production and distribution costs and it’s a win win situation, big money involved. Especially if the cures already sitting in your lab waiting for the perfect moment to be released to the population. It's just a question of holding on, no concern for the lives expiring in the meantime but your companies going to save the day it's just a question of how long you’re going to wait.


The precedent is set it's a free house, there’s big money to be made. Just gotta pray your pathogen doesn't evolve into something far more deadly and the small matter of your conscience getting in the way.


Now Blockbuster is very well written novel and if this sounds like your thing, you'll enjoy it I'm sure. It's just not something I'd normally read, the horror comes purely from people's actions and blatant disregard for human life and I felt it a touch incredulous at times. That’s purely me though.

 Could this be a future blueprint for the industry, you've got to hope not and it'd be a highly dangerous one at that.


A 3.5 Rating


I received Blockbuster from Darkfuse & Netgalley in exchange for an honest review and that’s what you’ve got.

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review 2014-11-17 00:00
Blockbuster - Lisa von Biela I hate big pharmaceutical companies and pretty much think they are about as scummy as they appear in this novel from Lisa von Biela. Talk about striking a nerve with me. I was genuinely angry several times while reading this one.

Enter rant that has nothing to do with anything: It pisses me off, the pharma companies fucked up pills and commercials that don't even tell you what the pills are for and then the whole commercial is how you will be shooting blood out your asshole and go blind and will probably commit suicide but your “hay fever” will be cured. Turning America into a cluster fuck of pill popping suicidal sheep while the fat cat pharma fucks get filthy rich and the people who actually need medication can't fucking afford it and insurance won't cover the bullshit inflated prices. Sorry about the rant...must be the allergy meds. I'm glad my dick still works because I don’t really aspire to an erection that lasts over 4 hours. Ouch.

Ok, rant over. Now about the book :)

I enjoyed this one from Lisa. She has consistently turned out some quality medical “techo-thrillers” that I may have missed completely if it were not for the DarkFuse book club.

In the year 2025 two of the top big pharmaceutical companies are fighting for the next big “blockbuster” drug. Ethics are out the window as these companies will do anything to rise to the top of the field. After a horrible pathogen is purposely released into the general population it will be a race to see which scumball company (sorry couldn’t help it) can come to the rescue and reap all of the profits.

The ending did fizzle a bit for me and felt a bit rushed without a substantial conclusion, but it was still well written and fast moving throughout. There also really wasn’t a protagonist worth a shit in this one. I didn’t care about any of the characters, especially Sylvia, who was one of the main scientists and had a huge part in the deaths of a lot of people including one of her own. I was actually rooting for every one of the main characters to die in this one. Maybe next time. 3 sleazebag pharma drug stars.

*As a member of the DarkFuse / NetGalley Readers Group, I received an advanced copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-10-01 03:26
Keep Running, don't think too hard
The Maze Runner - James Dashner

The Maze Runner
James Dashner
Delacorte Press (2009)
ISBN 9780385737944


The Long and Short:
A very male centric dystopia with great world building, but less the impressive characters and writing style. I wasn't expecting anything too profound, so I wasn't disappointed when it scratched only two layers of skin.


The Long:

I could have done this in one sitting, but life interfered. I was not expecting much, and I got a very little bit more than that.


There were a couple of things that were quite well done, such as the amnesia angle. The terror and confusion of knowing almost nothing but your own name (only to find out later that you don't even have *that*), and the kind of oppressive feeling of living in such a fake world, knowing that you're always being observed and there's always the reliable threat of Grievers. So the world building is more than good.


I also liked the Maze "language" the boys have since it adds to the disorienting off kilter feel of being tossed into the maze. The strange made up terms seem to annoy a lot of my friends who've read it, but then I'm a linguistics student, so I appreciate those kinds of things.


The plot is simple: get out of the maze and find out what the hell is going on. That is the biggest propelling force in this book. Dashner has a flair for ending his rather short chapters with cliff-hanger/sensational statements so that you *have* to start the next one. He always has you wanting to know what happens next, even at the expense of pace and characterization. That is the biggest problem with this book; aside from Newt and Minho and even Chuck, everyone else is pretty one dimensional. Thomas is just too much of the perfect hero to really appreciate, and Teresa seems to be there merely for decoration and plot movement, which is a crying shame, as she's the only female in the book.


Another thing, of a very spoilery nature *you've been warned* I was incredibly upset that when we finally get a chance to experience the Change through Thomas, it all happens off page. WHAT. We're told over and over and over how awful the Change is, then we don't even get to experience it. Utterly robbed. He just gets up, none the worse for wear, wipes his hands of the mess and more or less says, "well now that's done with, lets call a meeting and let me tell you what all this maze business is about, shall I?". Yeah, was really not happy about that. It didn't help endear me to Thomas' super speshulness either. /Spoiler.


Other annoying things are the "not telling you things you need to know" attitude by *every*one in the book. This is where Dashner's need to keep the chapters exciting and short force the tension to be stretched out in a frustrating way. I also had a problem with Thomas and Teresa being the centre of everything. I understand them being catalysts, but Thomas seems to be the only one able to do anything right. There's so much potential in the supporting cast, but they're forced to the background to let Thomas shine in stead of being full characters in their own right. Which sucks even more since I found Thomas to be not all an interesting or sympathetic character. I may also just lack an imagination equipped with a bestiary - I couldn't for life of me figure out what the Grievers were supposed to look like, and so they ended up being much less scary than they could have been.


I'm happy I read it before I see the movie, and while I enjoyed it for the most part, I ain't gonna rush out and buy the sequel either. I'll get to it eventually.


Context Free Quote:

n/a - unfortunately, this book lacked any standout phrases or moments for me. A sign, that.

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