Book Review: Blockbuster by Lisa von Biela

23551225Title: Blockbuster

Author: Lisa von Biela

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

In the year 2025, survival of the fittest takes on new importance. Hungry for market share and driven by greed, BigPharma companies battle to produce the next blockbuster drug. And they will go to any length to win—and survive.

Dan Tremaine has found the secret to success for Denali Labs. Phil Horton is desperate to save his family firm, Horton Drugs. When they’re put in a head-to-head competition to find the cure for a deadly flesh-eating disease, who will win?

And at what cost?

The clock is ticking. The body count is rising.

And someone has created a monster.

Blockbuster is at times an amazing book, that offers a sharp insight in the competitive market, economy, market shares, and what companies might do when driven by greed. Unfortunately, while the book set out to outlign a bleak future, and succeeds in some parts, it fails in others. A good concept, but it doesn’t reach far beyond that.

In 2025, pharameutical industries struggle to survive. Horton Drugs is an oldtimer in the field, a respectable company with records dating back several decades. But with patents running out, and no new drug on the horizon – no new blockbuster – the company is looking at bankruptcy. Phil Horton, the last Horton heir, faces the impossible task to save his family firm.

On the other hand, we have Dan Tremaine, owner of competition pharmaceutical lab, Denali Labs. Dan has no qualms going to any length to make more money. The company has only been around for a small number of years, yet it has produced one blockbuster drug after another.

Then comes MRSA II, a flesh-eating bacterium that kills people overnight. With no known cure, the president makes an offer to both companies – whoever comes up with the cure first, will win a major contract.

The story concept and plot worked great, and formed a strong backbone for this book. At the same time, the possibility of something like this ever happened for real, is so big that as a reader, that chilling thought stick to the back of your mind while you read through the book. The characters are intriguing for the most part, especially the ones belonging in the Horton camp. It’s easy to see the choices Dan Tremaine would make, but the choices Phil and his co-workers make are a lot more surprising.

The true horror of the book lies in how realistic all of it is. It shows a bleak, cynical look into the future. Although that’s certainly scary, the book doesn’t offer much else to get the dark vibe going. While the characters are intriguing, their dialogue is often unnatural, and some of the characters – in particular Sylvia – are hard to connect with. The writing could use some work too, sometimes the pacing felt messed up, going too fast one chapter and too slow the next. Instead of showing us what happened, the author often tolds us about it, which made the writing feel flat and boring. The ending was predictable too, and happened in a rush, and ultimately, left me feeling a little dissapointed.

It’s certainly not a bad read, but with a topic matter as intriguing as this, I just expected more.


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