It’s always a good thing when you walk into a book and are surprised by how good it is. I’ve never read anything by Miranda Nading before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from her 2014 release, Caliban. Was it going to be a Crichton knockoff? How dark would it go? Would the tension live up to the premise?
Let me answer all of those questions with one sentence: I really hope Nading has plans for a sequel. Granted, it’s been three years, but I’ll hold out hope.
To give you a bit of understanding… Caliban is the story of Walker’s Pass, a small town in Wyoming. Doctor Bobby Reed, a former geneticist, is mostly the main character throughout the novel, but there are several other perspectives, so I see it as from the whole town’s perspective.
Difficult parts of Bobby’s past are brought back to the present when he’s called away to assist in a grisly murder at a nearby old-folks rest home, owned by the mysterious Alpha Corporation. Bobby learns far more than is good for him as he tries to fix what his former colleague has done. But, locked away in the bowels of a secret facility under the rest home, he has no idea what is heading for the town and his kids.
Back in Walker’s Pass, Sheriff Mark BaldEagle starts to brace the town for a blizzard. When the townspeople come down with a crazy-fast flu and some of his deputies start to disappear, he starts to piece things together. In the middle of the night, he pulls on every bit of his knowledge of the area and his combat experience to try and save his hometown.
Like the sickness in the story, Caliban starts as a low-grade fever and quickly builds to a deadly blaze of action filled with monsters, crazy corporate megalomaniacs, and genetically engineered killing machines.
Caliban is a fun and exciting read. I only had two issues with Nading’s story. First, there was a strange jump early on in the story, where there seemed to be a paragraph missing. It could have been me, but it just felt off. Second, the budding romantic relationships, seem a little predictable. It’s not that there was anything particularly wrong with them. I could forgive one of them, but Bobby’s bugged me.
These two issues are still pretty minor. And, while, yes, it is definitely something in the vein of what Michael Crichton would have written, Nading has given Caliban its own voice.
I very much enjoyed this book and, as I said above, I am holding out hope that Nading will write a sequel. She definitely left it open for one.