Monday, 11 June 2018

Quarantaine - Book Review

by Erik Betten

What is it about:
Quarantaine is the thrilling debut of Erik Betten. A thriller with current themes about a deadly bacteria - and a government taking unthinkable measures.

Groningen, October. A deadly bacteria surfaces through a gas extraction point. In just a few days halfdead, infected victims swarm mindlessly across the North-Netherlands. Afraid it will spread further the government decides to lock down the affected provinces.

Gonings-Friese politician Homme Olivier, who has been campaigning for the locals for years when it came to the gas extraction in the area, gets pushed to the front as spokesperson. It's his job to try to keep people calm during the search for a solution.

But when the government uses the army to contain the refugees in the affected provinces Homme might turn into a scapegoat.

When he receives a message from his wife that she is staying in the infected area, Homme decides to abandon his job in Den Haag to search for her. Risking his life he braves the bacteria invested North, searching for something that might have already been lost...

What did I think of it:
I don't often read in Dutch anymore, but when I saw this book it drew my attention. When I read it is set in the north of the Netherlands - where I live - and it had some sort of zombies I knew I had to get my trotters on it.

And this is a cool read!

Homme is not your typical hero. He is a politician who started out trying to do good, but along the way he lost his way and let himself get dragged into backroom deals and made concessions that might have gone to far. When he is asked to help keep people calm and support drastic measures he complies. Finally he has had enough and goes in search of his wife who is somewhere in the stricken north.

Meanwhile in the north it's chaos. The infected people turn into a sort of zombies (dodelingen they're called in this book) and people who aren't sick yet are trying to flee to unaffected areas only to be stopped by the army to prevent the bacteria from spreading further. This makes for some pretty grim and gruesome scenes.

And when Homme reaches the north he is thrown into chaos and danger as well. I can tell that the dodelingen are the least of his problems. There is lots of action and difficult decisions in his search for his wife.

Apart from Homme there are a few other viewpoint characters. I loved getting to read about the things they are involved in as well. AS the story unfolds I can say I was eager to see how everything would end.

There were only a few grumbles I had about this book. As the infection starts in Groningen I had hoped that more of the story would be set in Groningen as well. One storyline is set in Groningen, but most of the action is in Friesland.

My second grumble is that there seem to be a lot of blonde people in this book. Now there are indeed blonde people in the Netherlands and in the north of the Netherlands, but lots of people with other hair colors as well. Still almost every time a hair color was mentioned it was blonde. I think I counted only four mentions of other hair colors.

Those minor grumbles aside this is a very cool read. I loved how Betten included some current issues in this book without them interfering with the story. Both the gas extraction in the north and the divide between the north of the Netherlands and the west were used to their full advantage to make a thrilling zombie story.

All in all I had a great time with this book and I hope it gets translated to English so all my zombie loving friends who don't read Dutch can read it as well.

Why should you read it:
It's a cool zombie read.

Buy the book at van der Velde
Warning: it's only available in Dutch at the moment.

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