Review: Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca

Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca

Even under the most normal circumstances, high school can be a painful and confusing time. Unfortunately, Lilianna’s circumstances are anything but normal. Only a few people know what caused her sudden change from model student to the withdrawn pessimist she has become, but her situation isn’t about to get any better. When people begin coming down with a quick-spreading illness that doctors are unable to treat, Lil’s worst fears are realized. With her parents called away on business before the contagious outbreak – her father in Delaware covering the early stages of the disease and her mother in Hong Kong and unable to get a flight back to New Jersey – Lil’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread illness and fatal disaster. Now, she’s more alone than she’s been since the “incident” at her school months ago.

With friends and neighbors dying all around her, Lil does everything she can just to survive. But as the disease rages on, so does an unexpected tension as Lil is torn between an old ex and a new romantic interest. Just when it all seems too much, the cause of her original trauma shows up at her door. In this thrilling debut from author Yvonne Ventresca, Lil must find a way to survive not only the outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons.

I received Pandemic from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

It was hard to decide how to rate Pandemic. There was a lot of action, the story moved quickly, and it really held my interest. I found myself thinking about the book when I wasn’t reading it, wondering what would happen next.

The book’s weakness was it’s main character Lil. I used to read a lot of romance novel forums and one of the catch phrases was “too stupid to live” (TSTL). Usually referring to the heroine in the book, it’s pretty obvious what it means: the character does many, many stupid things.

Lil in Pandemic was TSTL. In this case I mean that literally because things in her life were so dire. She actually could have died from the Blue Flu (so named because its victims’ skin turns navy blue!). With the pandemic flu spreading, she knew — and was told by her father, a cop, and a neighbor — that it would be safer to stay in the house than to go wandering around town, especially after dark. What did she do? She went wandering around town, even after dark. She paid lipservice to the “be home by dark” idea, but no, she stayed out at night. She almost walked in on looters at a neighbor’s house, saw the damage they did, and she STILL LEFT HER HOUSE. Multiple times! Then she was shocked when looters hit her house.

TSTL indeed.

I also could have done without the plot about the incident at school that really only served to isolate Lil from her classmates before the pandemic even began. It wasn’t necessary, and neither was her isolation. She had enough to deal with, without the added stress of having to deal with people she had been avoiding pre-epidemic. Lil’s parents were out of town when the flu hit, leaving her without anyone to rely on. The authorities were overwhelmed; many of them were ill, too, and just trying to keep up with the dead and dying was a more-then-full-time job for those who were physically able.

The reason I found Pandemic so frightening is because it’s not hard to imagine the events in the story actually happening, even in 2014. The epidemic started slowly, without much notice. Lil noticed because she was pretty paranoid (she had a stockpile of food, water, and toilet paper in preparation for a disaster), but the time it started to become more widespread and most people took notice, it was too late. People were already infected and many were dying.

Lil aside, I do recommend this book. It’s strong enough to overcome such a weak main character, and that makes it worth reading. I don’t think I’ve read any other books dealing with a pandemic, but I would like to — and hopefully the next one I find will have a better main character.

4 stars



  1. Great review! A weak protagonist can really hurt an otherwise good book. Too bad this book has one. Love TSTL 🙂
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