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Child Zero

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From molecular biologist turned Anthony Award-winning author of THE KILLING KIND comes a fact-based thriller in the vein of Michael Crichton about our species’ next great existential threat. It began four years ago with a worldwide uptick of bacterial infections: meningitis in Frankfurt, cholera in Johannesburg, tuberculosis in New Delhi. Although the outbreaks spread aggre From molecular biologist turned Anthony Award-winning author of THE KILLING KIND comes a fact-based thriller in the vein of Michael Crichton about our species’ next great existential threat. It began four years ago with a worldwide uptick of bacterial infections: meningitis in Frankfurt, cholera in Johannesburg, tuberculosis in New Delhi. Although the outbreaks spread aggressively and proved impervious to our drugs of last resort, public health officials initially dismissed them as unrelated. They were wrong. Antibiotic resistance soon roiled across the globe. Diseases long thought beaten came surging back. The death toll skyrocketed. Then New York City was ravaged by the most heinous act of bioterror the world had ever seen, perpetrated by a new brand of extremist bent on pushing humanity to extinction. Detective Jacob Gibson, who lost his wife in the 8/17 attack, is home caring for his sick daughter when his partner summons him to a sprawling shantytown in Central Park, the apparent site of a mass murder. Jake is startled to discover that, despite a life of abject squalor, the victims died in perfect health—and his only hope of finding answers is an eleven-year-old boy on the run from some very dangerous men.


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From molecular biologist turned Anthony Award-winning author of THE KILLING KIND comes a fact-based thriller in the vein of Michael Crichton about our species’ next great existential threat. It began four years ago with a worldwide uptick of bacterial infections: meningitis in Frankfurt, cholera in Johannesburg, tuberculosis in New Delhi. Although the outbreaks spread aggre From molecular biologist turned Anthony Award-winning author of THE KILLING KIND comes a fact-based thriller in the vein of Michael Crichton about our species’ next great existential threat. It began four years ago with a worldwide uptick of bacterial infections: meningitis in Frankfurt, cholera in Johannesburg, tuberculosis in New Delhi. Although the outbreaks spread aggressively and proved impervious to our drugs of last resort, public health officials initially dismissed them as unrelated. They were wrong. Antibiotic resistance soon roiled across the globe. Diseases long thought beaten came surging back. The death toll skyrocketed. Then New York City was ravaged by the most heinous act of bioterror the world had ever seen, perpetrated by a new brand of extremist bent on pushing humanity to extinction. Detective Jacob Gibson, who lost his wife in the 8/17 attack, is home caring for his sick daughter when his partner summons him to a sprawling shantytown in Central Park, the apparent site of a mass murder. Jake is startled to discover that, despite a life of abject squalor, the victims died in perfect health—and his only hope of finding answers is an eleven-year-old boy on the run from some very dangerous men.

30 review for Child Zero

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan - on semi hiatus

    While Detective Jacob Gibson searches for answers, a preteen boy is on the run evading mass killers who also want to kill him. Child Zero is a futuristic story taking off from the current Covid launching pad and I was more unnerved than usual reading this because of the direction the world has taken recently. Bio warfare including antibiotic resistance will probably appeal to those interested in science in particular. Also recommend to those liking futuristic books with kind of an espionage slan While Detective Jacob Gibson searches for answers, a preteen boy is on the run evading mass killers who also want to kill him. Child Zero is a futuristic story taking off from the current Covid launching pad and I was more unnerved than usual reading this because of the direction the world has taken recently. Bio warfare including antibiotic resistance will probably appeal to those interested in science in particular. Also recommend to those liking futuristic books with kind of an espionage slant. I tend to tread lightly with dystopian novels because they can depress me if I’m not in a positive mood but it helped that this book had a lot of soul in addition to the action. Thank you to Novel Suspects, Hachette Book Group, and Chris Holm for my print copy in advance of publication May 10, 2022. Available now.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Action-packed medical thriller -- scary and plausible. Antibiotic resistance has resulted in a world wide crisis where a simple infection is now deadly. Historically eradicated disease is once again rampant, and humans live in isolation, quarantine, and fear of the microbes and of each other. Bioterror is the latest weapon for those extremist groups who want to bring about the end of human life. Amidst all the confusion and wariness, a couple of NYPD detectives stumble across a boy who has an unu Action-packed medical thriller -- scary and plausible. Antibiotic resistance has resulted in a world wide crisis where a simple infection is now deadly. Historically eradicated disease is once again rampant, and humans live in isolation, quarantine, and fear of the microbes and of each other. Bioterror is the latest weapon for those extremist groups who want to bring about the end of human life. Amidst all the confusion and wariness, a couple of NYPD detectives stumble across a boy who has an unusual gift -- the ability to cure. Unfortunately, they must protect him from powerful factions who want the boy as a pawn. The science in this work of fiction is very real and the threat of humans losing resistance to disease is looming. The world created by the author of this novel is bleak and dystopian. Government overreach and the protection of human rights are always seemingly at odds. The many characters in this book have their own motives for the actions they take and the philosophies they espouse. In any event, this story will make you think, do some of your own research, and take responsibility for making sure that the narrative does not come to be. Very fast paced, it was hard to put down and quite enjoyable. I recommend it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller

    Four years ago, bacterial infections started spreading across the globe. Modern-day antibiotics were no longer effective to treat them, leading to thousands of deaths. Now, a common cold can kill. Chemotherapy can’t be used anymore because it weakens the body’s immune system to the point of being useless. Most surgeries have been canceled due to the great risk of infection. Sick people are being isolated from the general population in special hospitals, but they are not there to be healed --- th Four years ago, bacterial infections started spreading across the globe. Modern-day antibiotics were no longer effective to treat them, leading to thousands of deaths. Now, a common cold can kill. Chemotherapy can’t be used anymore because it weakens the body’s immune system to the point of being useless. Most surgeries have been canceled due to the great risk of infection. Sick people are being isolated from the general population in special hospitals, but they are not there to be healed --- they are there to die. To make matters worse, a terrorist has released a lethal combination of viruses that immediately infect the people subjected to it. Then they unknowingly spread it to others.After the release of the toxins, a large part of Central Park has been sealed off, placing its inhabitants in perpetual quarantine. Many have died, and most of those remaining are living in squalor. No one is supposed to leave the area until they can prove they are healthy. There is a report of an apparent mass murder in the quarantined area of the park, and detectives are called in to investigate. When the victims are autopsied, the results are startling. All of them were healthy before they were killed. How could this be? Why were they murdered, and who is responsible? The answers may not be so obvious. Two people also have escaped, one of whom is known as "Child Zero." He is being sought by both the good guys and the bad guys. Who exactly is he? How did he get away, and why is he so special? This outstanding sci-fi thriller takes place in the future, but it’s a future with a frighteningly real scenario that doesn’t seem too far-fetched after all we’ve experienced with the pandemic. It’s a warning to humanity about the overuse and misuse of antibiotics and where that could possibly lead. It’s also a story of hope --- that scientists can come up with different solutions, and there may be those among us with natural immunities who can help others. For the most part, the writing is fast-paced and full of action, with plenty going on to keep the attention of readers. Chapters are sometimes separated by newspaper headlines, text messages and other correspondence related to what’s happening in the novel, which adds even more interest to the overall story. CHILD ZERO is the first book I have read by Chris Holm, but it certainly will not be my last. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    In the not too distant future, our antibiotics have become useless and once treatable infections have again become deadly. With the world reeling, a bioterrorism attack is unleashed in New York City leaving countless dead. Detective Jake Gibson was one of the many who lost a loved one on 8/17. Now years later, with his wife gone, Jake is trying to hold it all together when his daughter falls ill and he is called to the scene of a mass murder in Central Park. Even more shocking than the piles of c In the not too distant future, our antibiotics have become useless and once treatable infections have again become deadly. With the world reeling, a bioterrorism attack is unleashed in New York City leaving countless dead. Detective Jake Gibson was one of the many who lost a loved one on 8/17. Now years later, with his wife gone, Jake is trying to hold it all together when his daughter falls ill and he is called to the scene of a mass murder in Central Park. Even more shocking than the piles of charred bodies was the fact that the victims were all in perfect health when they met their end. Is there a possible way to heal his ailing daughter Zoe? I’m going to get this out of the way immediately – when this book hits shelves in May, you need to race to your local bookstore and grab a copy. Already an award-winning author himself, it’s Chris Holm’s experience as a molecular biologist that gives this book an air of authenticity that could otherwise be fumbled in the hands of another. Above all else, while this book could easily fall into a trap of seemingly endless info dumps and scientific jargon, Chris keeps things moving swiftly and clearly while never once leaving me lost in all the complicated nature of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. While Child Zero excels at the “why”, enough can’t be said of these big action sequences that populate the story. Child Zero reads like the literary equivalent of a standalone big budget summer blockbuster movie that simply isn’t made anymore (well, MCU aside); something that we could use more of. You really feel the urgency on the part of the characters to accomplish their goals while maintaining a sense of grounded reality. Perhaps the most terrifying aspect of Child Zero is that a scenario like this is entirely possible and could easily happen within our lifetime. Hell, I’m reading and reviewing this during a pandemic right now! In Chris’ novel, the worst of the infected had been quarantined inside of a shantytown within Central Park while affluent neighborhoods in Manhattan push through as if nothing is happening. If that isn’t a direct comparison to the vaccine hoarding of the first world, I’m not sure what is. Child Zero is not only a thrilling novel, but an urgent warning about our future and the dire consequences we all face if nothing is done to alter the course.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    Wow - talk about an outstanding and terrifying dystopian thriller!! This was the book equivalent of the old blockbuster movies (think Independence Day type of movie) with action, love, family, science, politics and more. The scariest thing about this book is how realistic it feels, an absolutely terrifyingly plausible scenario. It does deal with disease and pandemics, so while it is not directly about Covid-19, take care if that is a trigger for you. I was completely glued to the page trying to Wow - talk about an outstanding and terrifying dystopian thriller!! This was the book equivalent of the old blockbuster movies (think Independence Day type of movie) with action, love, family, science, politics and more. The scariest thing about this book is how realistic it feels, an absolutely terrifyingly plausible scenario. It does deal with disease and pandemics, so while it is not directly about Covid-19, take care if that is a trigger for you. I was completely glued to the page trying to figure out where this was all going and it took a very different direction than I expected! Fast pace and full of twists and surprises, this was a wild ride that I definitely recommend for fans of dystopian novels and sci-fi thrillers! 4.5/5⭐️ rounded up

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    I did not know fully what to expect when I started Child Zero. That is because I am garbage at reading synopses, and I can live with that. But what I ended up with was a pretty great book that rose above genre lines and gave me a little bit of all the things I love in a story. Let's talk about them!  ►An apocalypse-adjacent act of bioterror. Gah, this always freaks me out, because it legit takes one rogue lunatic to end the world, yeah? In this case, the world hadn't ended, per se, but the po I did not know fully what to expect when I started Child Zero. That is because I am garbage at reading synopses, and I can live with that. But what I ended up with was a pretty great book that rose above genre lines and gave me a little bit of all the things I love in a story. Let's talk about them!  ►An apocalypse-adjacent act of bioterror. Gah, this always freaks me out, because it legit takes one rogue lunatic to end the world, yeah? In this case, the world hadn't ended, per se, but the population did take a huge nosedive and things were not going great. Resistance to antibiotics was the biggest issue, leading to illness that had been fairly benign years earlier to now be deadly. Then, when things were already at their breaking point, some terrible whackos decide to unleash illness that they know can no longer be treated into the world. And, well all know from experience how quickly pandemics travel these days. So basically, it's horrific, and it's plausible. ►As such, The Powers That Be™ are now treating many citizens like trash. Because of course they are. Basically, at some point during the wave of illness from the terrorist, folks were herded like cattle into what is essentially an internment camp in the middle of Central Park. Only as we quickly learn, not all its inhabitants were ill. And one of them, Mateo, is now missing, the rest killed by an unknown entity, and a lot of people are on his tail.... ►Which brings us to the mystery portion of the program! Why is everyone after this young kid who has done literally nothing wrong other than exist? Why were a bunch of innocent people murdered in the wake of his disappearance? And of course, during the course of the whole thing, many more mysteries about the current state of the world are explored too. ►As the chase progresses, it becomes a thriller, too! The stakes are, as you can infer, ridiculously high. The story is full of action, and I found the balance between action and character development to be perfect! ►Speaking of, the characters are also really sympathetic and likable. Jake is a single dad, left widowed after his wife succumbed to the bioterror pandemic. His daughter is now ill, with what he doesn't know, but if authorities find out, they can and will take her. He enlists the help of his police partner, Amy, who is awesome, to help hide Mateo, and his ex girlfriend Hannah to take care of daughter Zoe. Mateo, of course, is incredibly sympathetic as he's clearly the most innocent party in this mess. ►Basically, I could not put the book down. I loved learning about the characters and the world, and it was so high stakes and full of action that it was a breeze to read. Bottom Line: I pre-ordered this for my dad for Father's Day, and he's really picky. So it must be awesome. You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

  7. 4 out of 5

    David

    I was fortunate enough to win an ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway, so I want to say thank you to Goodreads and to Mullholland Books for my copy! As for Child Zero, what an outstanding story! It's kind of dystopian sci-fi thriller but set in an entirely plausible near future. The author, Chris Holm, is a former molecular biologist, and clearly went to a lot of effort to make this book not only entertaining, but scientifically sound. I can't help but compare it to the recent works of author I was fortunate enough to win an ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway, so I want to say thank you to Goodreads and to Mullholland Books for my copy! As for Child Zero, what an outstanding story! It's kind of dystopian sci-fi thriller but set in an entirely plausible near future. The author, Chris Holm, is a former molecular biologist, and clearly went to a lot of effort to make this book not only entertaining, but scientifically sound. I can't help but compare it to the recent works of author Andy Weir. Both authors meticulously researched for their novels, and both created themes that were rooted in proven science. Holm's story is just focused on medical science rather than space exploration. I can't recommend this book enough, and it will undoubtedly be one of my favorite releases of 2022.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sydney

    While the blurb made this seem more unique than the average thriller, this was really just a crime novel. The protagonist is a recently suspended cop on the run from the law, a group of highly trained mercenaries, and a dangerous extremist organization. He has to use his unique set of skills to defeat these enemies while repairing his good name. I wasn't offended by it, but upon reflection couldn't think of anything I actually liked about this book. The sciencey elements make it more relevant to While the blurb made this seem more unique than the average thriller, this was really just a crime novel. The protagonist is a recently suspended cop on the run from the law, a group of highly trained mercenaries, and a dangerous extremist organization. He has to use his unique set of skills to defeat these enemies while repairing his good name. I wasn't offended by it, but upon reflection couldn't think of anything I actually liked about this book. The sciencey elements make it more relevant to current events, but don't actually uniquely affect any of the characters or plot.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Souliere

    If you had told me that in 2022 I would pick up a book about a possible future in which disease and bacterial threats run rampant, and not only read the whole thing but ENJOY IT, I would have laughed at you in a way that could only be labeled as insane and hysterical. But guess what? I did. Chris Holm has a talent. Even consciously feeling a resistance to the subject matter, I couldn't help turning page after page. Why? Because his characters are real. Not only are they real, they are dealing wi If you had told me that in 2022 I would pick up a book about a possible future in which disease and bacterial threats run rampant, and not only read the whole thing but ENJOY IT, I would have laughed at you in a way that could only be labeled as insane and hysterical. But guess what? I did. Chris Holm has a talent. Even consciously feeling a resistance to the subject matter, I couldn't help turning page after page. Why? Because his characters are real. Not only are they real, they are dealing with horrifying life events in as normal a way as possible -- because that's what you do when you're in a real crisis. You stick together with the people who mean something to you, no matter how difficult, and you keep on going, however you can. I'm not a fan of books that manipulate me, that utilize manufactured drama to zoom my emotions all over the place. I had to stop and think after a while - why are my drama alarm bells not going off here? It's because Child Zero has real heart, and it doesn't tear your heart out to make you feel what the characters are feeling. I highly recommend giving this book a read. I suspect you'll have a similar experience, and be glad you opened its cover and gave it a try.

  10. 4 out of 5

    BOOKLOVER EB

    Chris Holm's "Child Zero" is set in in a bleak New York City decades from now. Because physicians overprescribed antibiotics for so long, these lifesaving drugs have lost their effectiveness. Three years earlier, a crazed perpetrator released an aerosol containing highly infectious plague into a crowded subway station. This heinous act of terror took the lives of more than one hundred thousand people. Subsequently, the federal government formed the DBS, the U. S. Department of Biological Securit Chris Holm's "Child Zero" is set in in a bleak New York City decades from now. Because physicians overprescribed antibiotics for so long, these lifesaving drugs have lost their effectiveness. Three years earlier, a crazed perpetrator released an aerosol containing highly infectious plague into a crowded subway station. This heinous act of terror took the lives of more than one hundred thousand people. Subsequently, the federal government formed the DBS, the U. S. Department of Biological Security, and gave it "unfettered authority." Meanwhile, in New York, more than four thousand detainees, many of them immigrants, are sequestered in a squalid encampment known as Park City. The hero is thirty-seven-year-old Jacob (Jake) Gibson, a NYPD detective and widower, who has a four-year-old daughter, Zoe. Captain Ian Bavitz, Jake's supervisor, places Jake and his partner, Amira Hassan, on administrative leave after an interrogation that they conducted ended disastrously. Subsequently, Jake, Amira, Jake's ex, surgeon Hannah Lang, and a twelve-year-old named Mateo Rivas struggle to elude pursuers who ordered to track them down. Throughout "Child Zero," which is a blend of science fiction, action-adventure, and political thriller, there is a massive amount of violence: beatings, stabbings, shootings, explosions, and deadly fires. Holm is a skilled descriptive writer whose elaborate plot deals with influential and wealthy men who employ mercenaries to do their dirty work. These puppet masters have a common goal—to find Jake and kidnap Mateo, a child whose unique abilities could change the world. Although "Child Zero" lacks character development, it may appeal to readers who love chase scenes and military-style weaponry, and who are willing to overlook stilted dialogue and clichéd elements. Furthermore, this hectic and predictable David vs. Goliath tale touches on such timely issues as racism, immigrant-bashing, fringe groups who seek to topple the government, and autocratic rule vs. democracy.

  11. 4 out of 5

    John McKenna

    One scary-assed novel. Written by a real scientist, it predicts an all-too-possible future where—due to global warming—an ancient virus is released into the atmosphere from the thawing Arctic permafrost. It mutates in combination with ever-present bacterium to create a virulent strain of viruses which are impervious to most antibiotics. In plain language . . . it means a simple scratch can get infected and kill you. It means no more organ transplants or joint replacements, and a world wide resur One scary-assed novel. Written by a real scientist, it predicts an all-too-possible future where—due to global warming—an ancient virus is released into the atmosphere from the thawing Arctic permafrost. It mutates in combination with ever-present bacterium to create a virulent strain of viruses which are impervious to most antibiotics. In plain language . . . it means a simple scratch can get infected and kill you. It means no more organ transplants or joint replacements, and a world wide resurgence of dormant diseases that are evermore resistant to antibiotics. Fear among medical scientists and physicians of a totally immune bacteria eventually emerging, cause the U.S. government to pass a bill called the Wellness Act . . . which creates the Department of Biological Security . . . and gives it broad and draconian authority to fight disease, using any means at their disposal. Citizens are required by law to report any incidents of fever, at any time, in anyone. As the novel begins, NYPD Detective Jacob Gibson, whose wife died early in the pandemic, is home nursing his toddler daughter who has an unbroken fever of 101-plus degrees. He’s not about to call DBS, fearing that they’ll take his daughter and let her die. He’s sure that her illness is a childhood cold, and does what he can to soothe her while waiting for her fever to break. But that’s when he and his partner are ordered out by his NYPD bosses to investigate a massacre in Central Park. It might effect the pandemic and give humanity a chance to survive. The reason is an eleven year-old boy named Mateo. But word has leaked out somehow, and Mateo is on the run from the team of mercenaries who’ll murder anyone trying to protect him. The two meet up as Jake and his NYPD partner race for their lives, trying to protect both children as the novel rockets to its astonishing conclusion. Mr. Holm, a real microbiologist, blends accurate facts with great writing, believable characters and wicked plot twists into a spine-chilling page-turner!!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sunny Halecki-walker

    I finally read my ARC from Goodreads and I loved this book. It’s part modern day Chriton and part dystopian nightmare. The book feels very relevant in our times of covid, rampant conspiracy theories, and tense political climate. This was my first book by this author and I can’t wait to check out his other works. I def recommend this fast paced story

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hailey Fish

    This had Covid 19 vibes but scarier - I thoroughly enjoyed this chilling ride and thought it was well written with great character development. This may very well be the thriller of the summer of 2022.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hicks

    In the aftermath of antibiotics failing against new, aggressive strains of bacterial infections, New York becomes ground zero to the world's single largest and deadliest act of bioterrorism. Detective Jacob Gibson lost his wife in the 8/17 attack, and is now called away from caring for his sick daughter to investigate a new possible act of terrorism - this time against the indigent immigrants living in a makeshift shantytown cum concentration camp situated in Central Park. It's a scene of gross, In the aftermath of antibiotics failing against new, aggressive strains of bacterial infections, New York becomes ground zero to the world's single largest and deadliest act of bioterrorism. Detective Jacob Gibson lost his wife in the 8/17 attack, and is now called away from caring for his sick daughter to investigate a new possible act of terrorism - this time against the indigent immigrants living in a makeshift shantytown cum concentration camp situated in Central Park. It's a scene of gross, indiscriminate slaughter with one startling peculiarity in this new age of medical catastrophe: all of the victims were remarkably healthy. And one of them, a 12-year-old boy named Mateo, is missing, on the run, and hunted by the mercenaries that perpetrated this mass murder. Chris Holm's Child Zero is roundly situated in scientific plausibility and grounded in America's harsher realities of racism and xenophobia. Holm paints a rich, and frightening, view of the near-future wherein our last line of defense against sickness, infections, and plague have completely collapsed. A simple scratch can lead to amputation, or even death, and despite mankind's other technological advances, like electric cars and high-speed internet, medicine has been taken back to the Dark Ages. To top it all off, a group of endtimes cultists are hellbent on finishing off humanity, once and for all. It's a heady mix of regressive forecasting for humanity's days ahead, and all the scarier for its plausibility. Couple all that with the nature of the guarded, fenced-in, concrete-barriered Park City housing much of New York's immigrant population and travelers who found themselves stuck in the Big Apple in the aftermath of 8/17 years earlier, and things get darker all that much faster. Although it's set just a few years ahead, Child Zero holds a potent familiarity thanks to our post-Trump, COVID-19 present, not to mention the book's fictional Department of Biological Security and the draconian, authoritarian laws that have been swept into place in the wake of bioterrorism, which makes the Patriot Act look downright quaint. Holm's world-building is top-notch, and richly compelling. It all blends together with some smart characters, a nice dose of conspiracy and paranoia, and plenty of action to seamlessly create a frenetic thriller. On the paranoia front - we're not just talking about Jacob not knowing who he can trust or who to turn to. The paranoia is so much more pervasive and existential here! If somebody is caught on the streets past curfew, or, worse, maskless, what do you do and what can happen? If somebody is unmasked and coughs in your general direction, in a world where medicine has been all but curtailed, it takes on much more significance and concern, even beyond what we've grown accustomed to during these last couple years of the pandemic. The fact that Child Zero is dealing with much broader systemic failures, presenting a world once again rife with literal plague, well, reading this at a time when quarantines and lockdown are still very much a part of our reality, the tension here is real, and Holm makes his characters, and by extension his readers, squirm. Child Zero is an achingly effective thriller, and one that some readers may not be entirely ready for given the last two years. Despite our having a reliable vaccine to fight against COVID-19 infections, we are still in the midst of an on-going pandemic, which can make certain sections of Child Zero a little uncomfortable to read and bring issues of loss and fear very close to home. It also paints an uncompromising picture of what the next pandemic could look like, based on our current abuses of antibiotics in agriculture, unnecessary prescriptions, and lack of novel antibiotics and vaccines. It's scary stuff, made all the scarier for its plausibility.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tom Donaghey

    Child Zero (2022) byChris Holm. It seems there are going to be many, many books written now and in the near future which will be set in a pandemic society. That is fine in as much as the writing is not just a regurgitation of sights and sounds we have been living with for two years. Something fresh is called for, a twist to our status quo if you will, I don’t mind seeing a pattern, just give it significant differences from the others. Child Zero is just such a book. Set in a slightly alternate Child Zero (2022) byChris Holm. It seems there are going to be many, many books written now and in the near future which will be set in a pandemic society. That is fine in as much as the writing is not just a regurgitation of sights and sounds we have been living with for two years. Something fresh is called for, a twist to our status quo if you will, I don’t mind seeing a pattern, just give it significant differences from the others. Child Zero is just such a book. Set in a slightly alternate universe from our own, it concerns the outcome of a terrorist attack that is commonly referred to as 8/17. This time it is a biological attack brought about by a single individual. Working in a college lab, one man devised a weapon that renders antibiotics useless. With the initial spread of this weapon, diseases long thought to be extinct rush across the globe leaving medicos with little or no weapons to use against infection. A simple infected paper cut can now kill. In this world we find NYPD Detective Jacob Gibson. He lost his wife in 8/17 and is now at home caring for his sick daughter, Zoe. Taking her to a hospital is tantamount to handing her to the nefarious Biological Security Agency, who will sweep her away to some isolation area. Jacob fears he would never see her again. When his partner, Amy, calls him out to a crime scene, he manages to leave Zoe with his ex-girlfriend who is a doctor. The crime is a massacre in Central Park, home to a quarantined community of the poor. More than 100 people were killed overnight, their bodies left in a funeral pyre. SOC determines that the victims were completely healthy prior to death, a very, very odd situation. The story follows Jacob and Amy who get embroiled in something way over their pay grades. They quickly become enemies of the state, go on the run while still trying to solve the crime. Large government agencies and vast private companies play a role in the situation, and there is a miracle along the way. Mr. Holm effectively uses a slightly alterer New York City as the grid this game of hide and seek gets played out on. There are plenty of twists, and the ending is a bit different from what you might expect, but the whole thing is a fun ride with plenty of twists and surprise revelations. I won this book through Goodreads.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    Review of Uncorrected Digital Galley For years, the overuse of antibiotics threatened to create antibiotic resistance among the people. When it finally happened some four years ago, aggressive diseases doomed the unprepared populace, often within days. But something even more terrifying awaited New York City. Spencer Brutsch, harboring radical beliefs, released a multidrug-resistant strain of bacteria in a New York City subway station. It took two days for the infected to begin dying. As the outb Review of Uncorrected Digital Galley For years, the overuse of antibiotics threatened to create antibiotic resistance among the people. When it finally happened some four years ago, aggressive diseases doomed the unprepared populace, often within days. But something even more terrifying awaited New York City. Spencer Brutsch, harboring radical beliefs, released a multidrug-resistant strain of bacteria in a New York City subway station. It took two days for the infected to begin dying. As the outbreak continued to spread, the death toll rose. While caring for his sick daughter, Zoe, widower New York Police Department Detective Jacob Gibson, summoned by his partner, Amira Hassan, finds mass murder victims who, despite their squalid living conditions, died in perfect health. Now Jake must find eleven-year-old Mateo Rivas before the powerful men who will use him for their own nefarious ends can locate him. ========= Dark, disturbing, and frighteningly within the realm of possibility, this story pulls the reader into the telling of the tale from the outset. As the plot twists and turns, the events become even more horrifying, keeping the suspense high. A constant undercurrent of apprehension keeps readers guessing and the pages turning at breakneck speed. Believable, nuanced characters, a strong [albeit harrowing] plot, and non-stop action combine to create an unputdownable story filled with tension, behind-the-scenes machinations, mercenaries, and political conspiracies. It’s a not-to-be-missed book that belongs on every reader’s must-read list. Highly recommended. I received a free copy of this eBook from Mulholland Books and NetGalley #ChildZero #NetGalley

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sara Spock

    CHILD ZERO – FIVE STARS!!! Set in the not-too-distant future, Child Zero is a dystopian thriller with a heavy dose of current-events-reality woven in, making it doubly gripping and captivating. Holm’s ability to build a credible future state relies on actual scientific knowledge, which lends Child Zero its superb backdrop: a world in which a scratch could kill you, the common cold means government involvement, and antibiotics are no longer effective against even previously eradicated diseases. Th CHILD ZERO – FIVE STARS!!! Set in the not-too-distant future, Child Zero is a dystopian thriller with a heavy dose of current-events-reality woven in, making it doubly gripping and captivating. Holm’s ability to build a credible future state relies on actual scientific knowledge, which lends Child Zero its superb backdrop: a world in which a scratch could kill you, the common cold means government involvement, and antibiotics are no longer effective against even previously eradicated diseases. The themes are poignant and timely, focusing on government’s role in a crisis and harkening back to laws such as the Patriot Act to build the case for more control. Child Zero follows NYPD officers Jake and Amy on the case of a mass murder event at a quarantine encampment where 12-year-old Mateo flees from the operatives trying to capture him, a doctor on the front lines of the health crisis, and politicians attempting to pull all the strings while not getting their own hands dirty. The story moves at a breakneck pace, urging you through expertly built tension to read just-one-more-chapter, until you hit the end without ever putting it down. While equal measure frightening and thrilling, Child Zero has deep roots in hope and humanity, which personally made for a quite meaningful read. In the great tradition of such geniuses as Michael Crichton, Robert McCammon, and Stephen King, Holm accomplishes something really magical with Child Zero. You will not want to miss this book. What a stunner! Many thanks to author Chris Holm, #NetGalley, and Mulholland Books for the opportunity to read and review Child Zero.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I'm really into medical/scientific thrillers right now. Child Zero hit the target for me with a near-future world where humans have become resistant to antibiotics and a bioterrorist attack has further decimated the population, leading to new government offices (The Department of Biological Security) and paramilitary groups (the People’s Army, the New Confederacy.) Almost all communication is monitored and the Fou I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I'm really into medical/scientific thrillers right now. Child Zero hit the target for me with a near-future world where humans have become resistant to antibiotics and a bioterrorist attack has further decimated the population, leading to new government offices (The Department of Biological Security) and paramilitary groups (the People’s Army, the New Confederacy.) Almost all communication is monitored and the Fourth Amendment is revoked, however, there are illegal hacklabs where you can gain anonymous, encrypted internet access. A guarded quarantine zone is attacked and its inhabitants all have been murdered--except one boy. As you can guess, this is the Child Zero of the title. I really liked all the different storylines and characters in this book but it really felt like it should be the beginning of a series rather than a standalone novel. Come chat with me about books here, too: Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Frightening real futuristic pandemic tale This scary tale reminded me in many ways of the first time I read THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN so many years ago. Scared the bejeebers out of me. In the near future bacterial infections have taken over the world. Antibiotics no longer work and old diseases that were once cured have made a comeback and the slightest scratch and infection can kill you. The story centers in New York City (a vastly changed city in this horrible future especially after a terrible act of Frightening real futuristic pandemic tale This scary tale reminded me in many ways of the first time I read THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN so many years ago. Scared the bejeebers out of me. In the near future bacterial infections have taken over the world. Antibiotics no longer work and old diseases that were once cured have made a comeback and the slightest scratch and infection can kill you. The story centers in New York City (a vastly changed city in this horrible future especially after a terrible act of bioterrorism) with the main protagonist being NYC Detective Jake Gibson, suspended from duty with his partner, Amy, who both get caught up protecting a young, very important immigrant boy. This is a story that read all too real. I highly recommend it, if you want to be scared to death while you're reading it...and while you think about it afterwards.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachael Hall

    This is my first book that I've read by Chris Holm, and I have to say I am a huge fan! "Child Zero" is an incredibly thrilling story set in an all-too realistic near-future world. In this world, all bacterial pathogens have been infected by a virus (known as the Harbinger Virus), which has made all bacteria resistant to all antibiotics. People now die of what have long been very treatable illnesses. Chemotherapy and Organ Transplants are no longer part of medical treatment because of the risk of This is my first book that I've read by Chris Holm, and I have to say I am a huge fan! "Child Zero" is an incredibly thrilling story set in an all-too realistic near-future world. In this world, all bacterial pathogens have been infected by a virus (known as the Harbinger Virus), which has made all bacteria resistant to all antibiotics. People now die of what have long been very treatable illnesses. Chemotherapy and Organ Transplants are no longer part of medical treatment because of the risk of having to lower ones immune system. Within this world, new bioterror threats have come to light, and doomsday cults who believe humankind is the greatest threat to the world have cropped up everywhere. Our protagonist Jake is a NYPD detective who finds himself in the middle of all of these controversial groups as he tries to help a remarkable young boy, Mateo, stay safe from many who want to exploit and harm him. You won't be able to put down this exciting thriller! Pre-order now, out May 10th 2022.

  21. 4 out of 5

    K-BRC

    What an incredible read! With a molecular biologist’s focus, the details are so accurately terrifying. With a every new twist, I was drawn more deeply into the story. This is definitely a 5-star must read suspenseful thriller.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    A bit of nasty virus, politics and sleuthing. Under current circumstances, I wasn't sure I wanted to read it but... book club selection. A combination of out of control - everything. Dystopia. I think I need to read Peter Pan now. A bit of nasty virus, politics and sleuthing. Under current circumstances, I wasn't sure I wanted to read it but... book club selection. A combination of out of control - everything. Dystopia. I think I need to read Peter Pan now.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Debra Berding

    I really enjoyed this book. The premise was a little difficult to handle since we are still dealing with Covid, and this was like Covid on steroids. The pace was fast, and I was curious to see what happened next. I liked the main characters, Mat and Jake. I’m not so sure about the ending though. I would read more books by this author.

  24. 5 out of 5

    ˗ˏˋ maddie ˊˎ˗

    This was really engaging, punchy and prescient and with a perfect, perfect ending.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Loved the book, highly recommend for readers who enjoy a great mystery. The author is amazing. Thank you for choosing me! Karen Ruppel 👍

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mark Stevens

    We got problems. The “new normal” ain’t pretty. There’s a tiny Third World nation in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow. The iconic Tavern on the Green restaurant has been subsumed by the encampment. Inside the camp, everything from shigellosis to typhoid fever run rampant. Below the streets, there are countless infected rats that have created a “simmering reservoir of plague.” There’s a new federal Department of Biological Security that has the authority to assume control of any investigation that may We got problems. The “new normal” ain’t pretty. There’s a tiny Third World nation in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow. The iconic Tavern on the Green restaurant has been subsumed by the encampment. Inside the camp, everything from shigellosis to typhoid fever run rampant. Below the streets, there are countless infected rats that have created a “simmering reservoir of plague.” There’s a new federal Department of Biological Security that has the authority to assume control of any investigation that may involve public health risk. The DBS is no joke. Its budget is larger than the Department of Defense. It’s leader reports only to the president. Thanks to the health crisis in general and one biological terrorist in particular, wealthy New Yorkers have turned their buildings into “hermetically sealed citadels and hired private armies to protect them.” One condo tower brags that buying a unit comes with one month’s emergency food and oxygen and one year “complimentary” subscription to [email protected] Aerial Evacuation Services. Details like that [email protected] touch give Chris Holm’s Child Zero a worrisome plausibility. Of course, coming off the past 25 months of weirdness—and the accompanying 1 million COVID deaths—will mean you’ll read these pages with even more of a parched throat. And as you devour the pages, you might think that the writer really seems to have grounded the story in science. I’m just going to come out and tell you to go ahead and take a pause from the action and read Holm’s thoughtful Author’s Note (at the end) and while you’re back there, check out the bibliography. Bibliography? A thriller citing scholarly references? A-yup. This bleep is possible. But Holm has his own background in molecular biology so it’s not like he just crawled up from a simmering reservoir of wannabe thriller writers to try and scare the pants of us innocent, trying-to-get-back-to-normal readers. The plot is built for action. No thumb-sucking allowed. It’s set a touch in the future, but you’d hardly know. (There’s even a repurposed Riker’s Island, used to heart-pounding effect. Spoiler alert: things have only gotten worse at Riker’s.) Child Zero is a detective story wrapped in a semi-dystopian hellscape. “Semi” because, well, it’s mostly poor folk who take it on the chin. The rich have options. The bigger backdrop is that bacterial infections around the world aren’t responding to treatment. Global warming has released ancient microbes due to the thawing of earth’s surface. (This is straight out of headlines in late May, 2022 a few weeks after Child Zero was published.) There was a meningitis outbreak in Frankfurt, a wave of tuberculosis infections in New Delhi. And so on. Child Zero centers primarily around the work of NYPD Detective Jacob Gibson. Gibson lost his wife in the bioterrorism attack. When Jake gets dispatched, he must find a way to keep secret the fact that his daughter is ill. If the DBS discover she is hot to the touch, she could be rushed off to a state-funded sanitarium where they “tuck the dying out of sight.” Gibson’s keeps her daughter’s health status a secret. Gibson is called to the scene of a massacre with his partner, Amira (Amy) Hassan. The slaughter is inside the aforementioned encampment in Sheep Meadow. The victims weren’t ill, however. They were all disturbingly healthy, which makes no sense given their surroundings. Given the infested conditions in their camp, might the victims have been sitting on some kind of miracle cure? We follow 12-year-old Mateo Rivas, a former Park City resident who was rousted from sleep one night and escaped down into those rat-infested sewers. We occasionally check in on President Marshall Whitmore and the self-centered head of DBS, Lionel Mercer. And, among others, we meet Peter Levy, an employee with the private security firm contracted to manage the Park City encampment. There’s a “cryptoanarchist collective.” There are “Soldiers of Gaia” too, who have pledged their lives to curing the planet of the “plague of humankind.” Yes, as in what happened after March of 2020, chaos begets chaos. The title of Child Zero might suggest it’s about the journey of one kid, but the novel is well populated and the mayhem is observed from a variety of points of view. The story touches on racism, classism, fascism, authoritarianism, and more. If you think COVID mask mandates were top-down, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet. (Holm started work on this long before COVID-19.) Imagine doomsday preppers on steroids, a band of fierce Mad Max survivalists, and government agencies who treat Orwell’s 1984 as a roadmap for success—and you’ve just started to grasp the extent of the many clashing aspirations in Child Zero. Holm takes full advantage of the Big Apple setting—from wildly converted subway stops to the grim scenes at Rikers and all that water in the East River. The government and personal agendas are manifold. The action sequences are cinematic while the prose is unflashy, workmanlike, and easy to gobble up. You could call Child Zero a cautionary tale, but that sounds much too meek. Based on all that he understands about science and bugs and mutations and medicine, Child Zero is Chris Holm screaming in our ears: wake up!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stacy DeBroff

    In this chilling and excellent dystopian futuristic thriller, overuse of antibiotics has rendered them useless. Myriad viruses and bacterial infections have started rampaging humanity including an old pandemic released from the melting icecaps. Across the globe old diseases resurface with outbreaks of meningitis, cholera, tuberculous, plague. In this post-antibiotic era, anything that could trigger the need for antibiotics has been cancelled so no more surgeries, and even the slightest cut if it In this chilling and excellent dystopian futuristic thriller, overuse of antibiotics has rendered them useless. Myriad viruses and bacterial infections have started rampaging humanity including an old pandemic released from the melting icecaps. Across the globe old diseases resurface with outbreaks of meningitis, cholera, tuberculous, plague. In this post-antibiotic era, anything that could trigger the need for antibiotics has been cancelled so no more surgeries, and even the slightest cut if it becomes infected could kill you. On top of this, on a date known as 8/17 (step aside our 9/11), a deliberate biological terroristic attack aimed to start wiping out humanity is unleashed on New York City and causes untold death. To combat the threat, an uber U.S. Agency has been formed: the Department of Biological Security. Hello Orwellian big brother. Anyone spiking a high fever must be reported for containment, night curfews have been mandated, and a Central Park containment zone that went up in the early days of the pandemic has now been festering for three years with no one released. This heart-pounding novel opens with a highly trained assault team weaving their way in New York City to the Central Park compound, using technology to avoid the curfew patrols. Once there, they launch an all-out violent and deadly attack on one village in the compound. Right before they get there, a man helps a 12-year-old boy escape via a hidden sewer duct. NYPD Detective Jacob Gibson gets called to the scene with his partner. His young daughter has come home from preschool spiking a high fever and he does not want her turned over the Biological Security forces. So as a last resort he calls his former girlfriend, an accomplished doctor, for a babysitting rescue. When Gibson arrives, he realizes that they entire village has been massacred, but that everyone who died was apparently in perfect health – a complete and unexplainable mystery. Both Gibson and the unknown attack force all go in search of the boy who fled. And his girlfriend and daughter get swept up in the action on the run. Expect to stay up late as the plot takes on a velocity of its own. Author Holm’s background as a molecular biologist gives the details of antibiotic resistant bacteria both scary realism and urgency. Thanks to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for an advance readers copy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    William de Rham

    "Child Zero" is a very good action and adventure novel that takes place in New York City during a near future when antibiotics no longer work and everyone is again at risk of death or grave illness from infectious diseases. As its promotional materials state, "Child Zero" is perfect for fans of Michael Crichton. Jake Gibson is an NYPD detective who lost his wife to a bio-terror attack, leaving him alone to raise a young daughter, Zoe, who at the beginning of the novel is running a fever and may h "Child Zero" is a very good action and adventure novel that takes place in New York City during a near future when antibiotics no longer work and everyone is again at risk of death or grave illness from infectious diseases. As its promotional materials state, "Child Zero" is perfect for fans of Michael Crichton. Jake Gibson is an NYPD detective who lost his wife to a bio-terror attack, leaving him alone to raise a young daughter, Zoe, who at the beginning of the novel is running a fever and may have caught an infection. Summoned to a case, Jake goes to Central Park, which has become a sprawling tent city/quarantine center for those trapped in Manhattan at the time of the attack. There, Jake finds charred bodies stacked like cordwood. Autopsies later reveal all the dead were perfectly healthy. Why did they die? What does a twelve-year-old boy—Child Zero—have to do with it? And who or what is behind the various violent groups now hunting for that boy? Author Chris Holm has given us a well-written tale that is strong on world-building. I found his descriptions of New York City in the coming years, and the various inventions and conditions that will be abroad in the world--including a new Federal government agency rivaling the Defense Department-- very interesting and not overstated. He hasn't created a nightmare world as in, say, the movie "Escape from New York" Instead, he’s given us a quite foreseeable picture of what could be in store for us. His characters are interesting, if not particularly unique. He makes really good use of New York, including places such as One Polica Plaza, the Upper East Side, Morningside Heights, and various East River islands. The mystery, the various conflicts between characters, and the dangerous situations they find themselves kept me turning the pages towards climactic scenes I found pretty exciting. All in all, a solid four-star performance. My thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. The foregoing is my independent opinion.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emily Christopher

    Child Zero ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Genre: Thriller Format: Kindle eBook Date Published: 5/10/22 Author: Chris Holm Publisher: Mulholland Books Pages: 352 Goodreads Rating: 4.11 Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for providing a copy of the book for me to read in exchange for my honest opinion. Synopsis: It began four years ago with a worldwide uptick of bacterial infections: meningitis in Frankfurt, cholera in Johannesburg, tuberculosis in New Delhi. Antibiotic resistance soon roiled across the globe. Dis Child Zero ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Genre: Thriller Format: Kindle eBook Date Published: 5/10/22 Author: Chris Holm Publisher: Mulholland Books Pages: 352 Goodreads Rating: 4.11 Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for providing a copy of the book for me to read in exchange for my honest opinion. Synopsis: It began four years ago with a worldwide uptick of bacterial infections: meningitis in Frankfurt, cholera in Johannesburg, tuberculosis in New Delhi. Antibiotic resistance soon roiled across the globe. Diseases long thought beaten came surging back. The death toll skyrocketed. Then New York City was ravaged by the most heinous act of bioterror the world had ever seen, perpetrated by a new brand of extremist bent on pushing humanity to extinction. Detective Jacob Gibson, who lost his wife in the 8/17 attack, is home caring for his sick daughter when his partner summons him to a sprawling shantytown in Central Park, the apparent site of a mass murder. Jake is startled to discover that, despite a life of abject squalor, the victims died in perfect health—and his only hope of finding answers is an eleven-year-old boy on the run from some very dangerous men. My Thoughts: If this book had been written 10 years ago, it would not have been plausible. But in today’s world, going on year 3 of COVID, extremely plausible. I have read that this author is a real microbiologist, which makes for an even better writing. This was part mystery, part sci-fi, and part thriller rolled into an excellent read. In this book it takes a view of bioterrorism to a new level, where medicine can no longer hear a simple scratch, back to he dark ages of medicine, and makes it incredibly real. The characters are developed well and Jacob is extremely likable. This was a fast paced book that went by really quick. I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend to others, as well as reading other books by this author.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jay Batson

    Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. My reviews are not influenced by the "free" book - I review honestly. This book has a fairly interesting premise: What happens when antibiotic resistance occurs across a wide range of diseases? In this case, the reason for it, and its impact, become the story line of the book. I liked it - especially in light of what has happened to the world with Covid-19, and how a global pandemic is a viable thing. Global, illness-based p Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. My reviews are not influenced by the "free" book - I review honestly. This book has a fairly interesting premise: What happens when antibiotic resistance occurs across a wide range of diseases? In this case, the reason for it, and its impact, become the story line of the book. I liked it - especially in light of what has happened to the world with Covid-19, and how a global pandemic is a viable thing. Global, illness-based pandemics are not a new idea in sci-fi. But what made this book interesting is that it didn't assume some vague vector for that pandemic. The story is grounded in plausible science, and doesn't fall back on using the tired trope of a homogenous, shattered world. Instead, the impact of the pandemic varies, by economic class, location, and individual circumstances. Plausible. The pandemic impacts society irregularly. Plausible. And so on. The only *slightly* difficult thing to accept is that hope for salvation comes from the 12-year-old hinted at in the publisher blurb. Fortunately, this hope doesn't need to be full expressed in science outcome. This story is built on a traditional good-cop, bad-guy-(not-gonna-tell-you-who) framework. And while the 12-year-old is pivotal to the story, the science around why the boy is interesting is - while plausible - not entirely necessary for the book / plot to ultimately succeed. It was definitely a page-turner that I reached for at night. Four stars from me based on my criteria: 5-stars for "one of the best books ever"; 4-stars for "good, well-written, on to the next one"; 3-stars for "meh - finished, but forgotten immediately"; 2-stars for so-bad it makes you laugh, sigh, or maybe write a bad review but you don't want to be a negative person", and 1-star for not being able to read past chapter 3 even as a penance for your sins.

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