Disease X by N.J. Croft audiobook cover featuring a biohazard sign and in the background is a oversaturated white hallway like they would use to enter a bio-hazard area

A Gripping Bio-Thriller

4.75 out of 5 stars

In N.J. Croft’s Disease X, readers are taken on a roller coaster ride through the treacherous realms of virology, global pandemics, and the uncharted territories of the human condition. Set against the backdrop of a potentially apocalyptic scenario, this Bio-Thriller grips its audience with a narrative that is both timely and eerily prescient, given its publication in January 2020, just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. I had to look up when it was originally published because the fact that Croft didn’t mention it told me it was pre-pandemic – and it indeed was.

The story unfolds with the crash of a plane carrying a Russian biochemist in the Alaskan wilderness, setting off a chain of events that intertwine the lives of characters facing a looming global threat. The narrative is centered around Doctor Elijah Vance (Eli), a leading CRISPR virologist haunted by the memories of his missionary parents succumbing to an Ebola outbreak during his childhood.

Croft does a good job of keeping the science in it without overloading you. It flirted the line with “too much” a few times, but he kept it at a level that was understandable and plausible.

This genre is my all-time favorite but I’m sure is getting harder and harder to write. I actually have a couple of story ideas around this genre saved on my hard drive but I can’t bring myself to continue writing them since COVID. I can’t imagine trying to craft a bio-thriller in a post-COVID world, where reality has, in some ways, surpassed the boundaries of fiction. Despite this, Croft maintains the suspense and urgency that defines the genre, successfully delivering a narrative that stands on its own merit.

The central theme revolves around the race against time to identify and contain Disease X, an unknown pathogen with the potential to decimate humanity. The author introduces subplots that add depth to the narrative, deviating from the conventional bio-thriller formula. These subplots inject fresh perspectives into a genre often characterized by its predictability (all science all the time).

One nitpick for me is Croft repeatedly mentions the term “Virus X”. The first few times I thought okay, that makes sense. But it was used as an “Oh no it’s happening” exclamation more than a few times. I feel like it could have been used slightly less, but I also get why it was done.

Disease X emerges as an excellent addition to the bio-thriller genre, expertly navigating the complexities of virology while delivering a gripping narrative. I thought that the timing was crazy, but the audiobook may be hard to read for anyone who was tragically affected by COVID. It’s probably too soon for those. I’m just happy I got to read about a new disease that wasn’t going to actually kill my family and friends. I like my bio-thrillers to be fictional.

Joshua Saxon set the tone throughout the story and his narration really shined and added to the story. N.J. Croft’s work stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of bio-thrillers, even in a world forever changed by the realities of global pandemics.

Book Description:

Disease X by N.J. CroftKindle edition currently free with Kindle Unlimited

A plane carrying a Russian biochemist crashes in the Alaskan wilderness with no survivors.

A dying billionaire launches a final fight against death amid whispers of a now defunct military bioweapon: Project Snowcap.

The world’s leading CRISPR virologist, Doctor Elijah Vance, hovers on the edge of a breakthrough that will alter humanity at its most fundamental level.

And in a remote village in Mexico, an unknown disease is spreading.

Following the death of his missionary parents to an Ebola outbreak when he was a young child, Eli has dedicated his life to finding a cure for all viruses. Drafted onto the WHO Fast Response Team sent to lock down a possible outbreak in Mexico, he realizes that this is the big one they’ve been waiting for. Disease X: the unknown pathogen with the potential to destroy mankind.

It’s a battle of man against virus. And we’re losing. As the deaths mount and civilization breaks down, the team must race against the clock to connect the clues and uncover patient zero. But Eli is unprepared for the shocking secrets he exposes when the truth is finally revealed.

Disease X by N.J. Croft
Narrator: Joshua Saxon
Length: 10 hrs and 4 mins
Published by Tantor Audio on June 8th 2022 (Kindle Edition Jan 6th 2020)
Genres: Bio-Thriller
Format: Audiobook
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