7 chilling books about virus outbreaks you should take a sniff at

At least we know people aren't going to turn into vampires like in 'The Strain' trilogy. Photo: Handout

With the World Health Organisation declaring the Covid-19 outbreak as a global pandemic, who knows what’s going to happen after this.

With infections on the rise, people are crippled with fear. Travel plans are cancelled, many cities around the world are close to becoming ghost towns and many are living in self-imposed home quarantine.

Let's not forget a shortage of face masks, hand sanitisers and toilet paper (what's next?).

Here's our selection of seven deadly novels about virus outbreaks. Just make sure you're wearing your Hazmat suit.

The Stand, by Stephen King (1978)

There is an obscure and remotely vague similarity between the pandemic in King's novel and the Covid-19 outbreak. Well, King is no doomsday prophet but as a master of horror, he does know how to make fiction realistic.

In The Stand, King's longest published standalone novel, a strain of influenza that had been modified for biological warfare is accidentally released, causing an apocalyptic pandemic that wipes out almost all of the world's population. Let's hope that's not the fate of our world with this outbreak.

The Strain trilogy, by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro (2009-2011)

A new take on the vampire myth, The Strain horrifically shows what happens to the world when a virus, carried by silver capillary worms, turns their human hosts into bloodthirsty vampires.

Moving away from the run-of-the-mill vampire stories, this trilogy treats vampirism as a deadly virus spread by an ancient vampire called The Master who wants to take over human civilisation.

Epidemiologist Dr Ephraim Goodweather races against time to find a cure to this pandemic as the world slowly turns into the Twilight Zone. Pun intended.

Oryx and Crake (2003) by Margaret Atwood

Canadian author Margaret Atwood spins a story of love and friendship set in a post apocalyptic world ravaged by a plague. Set in the future, Oryx And Crake follows the journey of Snowman who is probably the last human on the planet.

As he mourns the loss of his best friend Crake and the beautiful Oryx whom they both loved, Snowman embarks on a journey in search of answers with the help of primitive human-like creatures called Crakers.

Severance, by Ling Ma (2018)

In Chinese American author Ling Ma's debut novel, the protagonist Candace Chen is blissfully stuck to her routine at work, designing Bibles for teens. So much so, she barely notices when a plague called the Shen Fever spreads like the wrath of God. Candace, in the early stages of pregnancy, then ends up as one of the last survivors to escape the city.

Now close to death, Candace is saved by a group of survivors, led by a former I.T. guy called Bob. She follows them to the Facility, an abandoned shopping mall and together, they struggle to make a new home there under Bob's tyrannical leadership.

The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton (1969)

This is not an alien spinoff of The Strain. When one of the satellites sent into outer space to collect organisms and dust for study crashes in Arizona, a team is deployed to recover it.

When contact is abruptly lost, an aerial surveillance shows that everyone in a town closest to the crash site is apparently dead. It's all up to a team of scientists to investigate the outbreak of this deadly extraterrestrial strain.

The Plague, by Albert Camus (1947)

French Algerian philosopher and author Albert Camus could not have known how current his novel about a deadly plague would remain.

Set in Algeria, the novel tells the story of a plague ravaging the city of Oran, which tests human resilience and brings out the best and worst in people.

This existentialist novel is a study of the human condition and the effects a pandemic of this scale has on a populace.

Pale Horse, Pale Rider, by Katherine Anne Porter (1939)

This is a story that has a personal resonance as the writer herself was stricken with the flu pandemic when she was younger and almost died.

Set around the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, Pale Horse, Pale Rider revolves around Miranda who falls in love with Adam, a soldier.

Miranda ends up sick after being infected by the Spanish flu and when she recovers, she discovers that Adam has died of the disease, which he likely caught while tending to her.

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virus outbreaks , pandemic , books , novel , virus , flu , Covid-19


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