Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Night Parade

The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi
Kensington: 7/26/16
eBook review copy; 384 pages
ISBN-13: 9781496703866

The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi  is a highly recommended apocalyptic end-of-the-world-as -we-know-it novel.

"Was this how the world was to end? Not with a bang and not even with a whimper, but with the slow deterioration of everything good and beautiful and kind? With a sky absent of birds, a world overrun by insects, of droning cicadas and kaiju spiders...."

All the birds have died, or they are gone. It's the middle of the night and David and his 8 year-old-daughter Ellie are on the run, specifically from the government and doctors at the CDC. They killed Ellie's mother, Kathy, and David fears Ellie will be next. It seems that Kathy had a natural immunity to the disease that is sweeping the land and will likely wipe out humanity. Kathy was imprisoned in a hospital as they used her blood to try and find a cure for the disease they call "Wanderers Folly." Wanderer's Folly is much more gruesome than people simply aimlessly wandering around. It seems that Ellie's blood contains the same natural immunity as her mom and the CDC wants her, now that her mom is gone. David is not going to let that happen, so they are on the run in a stolen car, headed west.

"They’re not looking for me, baby," he said. "They’re looking for you. That special thing about your mom, that one-in-a-trillion resistance she had against the disease that made her immune... you’ve got it, too. It’s in you, too. You’re immune, Ellie." He pulled her close to him so that their foreheads touched. "But I’m not going to let them take you. I’m not going to let them find you."

Ellie is mature beyond her years and she may have some special abilities beyond her immunity. As she clutches the shoe box that never leaves her side, she knows her dad is not telling her the whole truth.

Chapters in the narrative alternate between what is happening in the present and, starting two years ago, the backstory about what happened that lead up the David and Ellie's flight for safety. The disease is cruel and humanity may be on the verge of ending. Classified as a horror novel, there are scary parts and some creepy things that happen, but nothing shocking. Any horror is found in what people can do to each other, the progression of Wanderer's Folly, and, for me, the thought of insects taking over (and spiders growing huge). The tone is dark and hopeless. David and Ellie's safety is not guaranteed.

With great story telling combined with good writing, The Night Parade will capture your attention quickly. The narrative is easy to follow and you'll find yourself wanting to gallop through the novel quickly. The ice cream truck story is especially ominous. The Night Parade has similarities to several other novels but doesn't reach their level of terror/horror or the depth and completeness of the storytelling (King's The Stand and Firestarter; McCammon's Swan Song).

The significance of the title of The Night Parade to the characters is explained several different times. For some reason, the explanation felt forced to me, like the title came first and then an explanation for it was needed. This doesn't affect the plot in any way; it was just something I noted when reading. Additionally, I totally understand the cornfield on the cover, but the crow is out of place.

Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.

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