When one thinks of a near apocalyptic event, the south coastal town of Hove doesn’t necessarily seem the most likely epicentre. In this case, however, Hove, Brighton and the surrounding area provide an ordinary and, in the best way possible, completely unremarkable backdrop to contrast the astounding events of The Afflicted.
In the labs of Swiftgene, a cutting-edge genetic research facility, the research of Dr John Simmons goes terribly awry, leading to an epidemic which has far-reaching, catastrophic consequences. Turning those affected into vampire-like beings with an insatiable thirst for blood, the outbreak is documented throughout The Afflicted – from the initial production of Methuselah, Dr Simmons’ wonder drug, to its inadvertent release into the wider population and the eventual containment of the outbreak, the tale is riveting throughout.
A cleverly constructed story throughout, Strutt, a former scientist himself, is particularly successful in his manipulation of his readers’ fear. The notion of bloodthirsty killers who stalk the night looking for victims is one shared by mythologies for centuries and which has the power to deeply unsettle us, no matter how mature we are or how logical our outlook on such matters may be. Couple this, which for many is a deep-seated fear developed in childhood, with the seemingly logical explanation Strutt gives, and you have the perfect setup for a genuinely chilling story.
Amongst the horror and gore, however, are the stories of the individual characters. Personal and in many cases touching, these stories allow the reader to develop an emotional attachment to some of the characters; for some we feel deep sympathy, and for others strong repulsion. The novel also sparks questions of morality and ethics – do the ends justify the means, and to what degree does the protection of the many justify the suffering of the few? The very notion of the wonder-drug itself, a panacea with the ability to rid the world of countless illnesses and problems, raises issues and questions which are certainly worth considering, and gives the novel added depth.
An exciting and intelligent tale, The Afflicted allows the reader to fully immerse themselves in the events and relate to characters of the book. Overall, Strutt has created a simply enthralling read.
Post by Chloe Pilsbury.