Review: Contagion by Teri Terry

contagionTitle: Contagion

Author: Teri Terry

Series: Dark Matter #1

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Received ARC at YALC

Summary (from Blurb)

Young runaway Callie survived the disease but not the so-called treatment.

Her brother Kai is still looking for her.

Ans his new friend Shay may hold the key to uncovering what truly happened.


A book so new, I had to hunt for the cover, and Goodreads doesn’t even have a summary up yet! Of the ARCs I got my hands on at YALC, this is definitely the one that had me most excited, despite my lukewarm feelings towards the other Teri Terry book I’ve read – Slated.

What can I say – mysterious diseases ravaging the country is one of my favourite story tropes since I read The Stand, and it’s nice to see one set in Britain, not America.

The story takes a little while to get going, though the hour countdown in the chapter heads does add a lot of tension to proceedings, but once the disease breaks out, things start moving apace. It’s nothing at first that we haven’t seen before – panic, fear, the mysterious spread of the disease and the mystery of it’s origin. But as things progress it becomes clear that it’s not an ordinary super disease.

For starters, there’s Callie. It’s not a spoiler to say she’s dead – she’s dead from the get go. But she’s a physical presence, able to influence her surroundings, interact with certain people, and so far she’s the only one of her kind. Of all the people dying from the illness, only Callie seems to be stuck in ghost form.

Then there’s the research station where Callie is in the start of the story. They appear to be the source of the illness, but what exactly they were trying to achieve is a mystery, as there’s no one left alive to talk to about it, and Callie’s memory of her time there is patchy. Plus, she was a prisoner, and therefore didn’t know everything anyway. There’s plenty of mystery and intrigue to keep the pages turning.

One thing that did bug me a lot was Shay. I spent the first half of the book convinced she was a boy, for a start. I’m not sure what it was about her characterisation that made me think this way, and it wasn’t a problem – I had no issue with the character as male, and the romance with Kai was just as sweet and touching as a gay romance as it was a straight one. But when I worked out that she was female, it took some mental gymnastics to stop thinking of her as the awkward, nerdy boy I’d been picturing her as in my head. I’d just about got used to it when the book ended.

I don’t know if this was a failing on part of the writing, or if it was my brain. Probably the latter – I did read it on the train home from YALC. I was very tired!

Overall, an exciting, often tense story. It suffers a little for being the first in a (probably) trilogy. There’s no real resolution at the end – a style of storytelling I’m starting to tire of, particularly in YA. I just want to know what happens next, dammit. But then, that’s probably more of a stamp of approval than anything else I’ve said in this review.

Rating: 4/5


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