****I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. The generosity of the author has, in no way, affected my opinion of this book. *****
An airborne strain of the AIDS virus decimates humanity. Bruno Ricasso, an Italian cop, a Carabiniere, struggles to survive on the island of Capri while Europe erupts in flames and society crumbles. But when his solitary existence is broken, Bruno returns to the empty city of Naples in search of answers.
Can Bruno find a way to stay alive in the ruins of civilization? Or will Bruno’s past sins prove even more deadly than the Omega Plague?
Blindingly and heartbreakingly fast-paced. That’s how I would describe P.R. Principe’s stunning debut novel, Omega Plague: Collapse, in five words or less. The novel gets off right away, with nearly no setup. While I am a devoted setup lover, and normally find books with little or no setup jarring, jarring the reader is the point in Omega Plague, and Principe carries it off beautifully. With no time to breathe as the world as we know it collapses around Bruno, the reader is left with no choice but to compulsively follow. As we follow Bruno, we feel his emotions and acutely sense the horror that surrounds him, making for an affecting read.
Principe has personally spent time in Italy, the setting of the book, and it shows in his descriptions. The vivid picture he paints of the beautiful and historical city of Naples makes if all the more horrific to read about it collapsing. Beyond the physical descriptions is the dialogue and characters. Both sparkle with authenticity, and I felt as if I was really reading the thoughts and listening in to the conversations of the people of Italy. The dialogue between military members is similarly authentic, a difficult endeavor that I have often seen come off as cheesy in other novels. Not so in Principe’s. Although Bruno is tough, he has a rounded, compassionate character, and it shows in subtle ways; the way he worries for his sister, Carla, and his internal dialogue when he sees his fellow military colleagues collapse from illness. His toughness comes from his circumstances, not just his character, and that is a tough feat to achieve in a novel without referring to stereotypes.
Overall, Omega Plague: Collapse is a riveting, twisting read, filled with action and mystery, that will hook you, hold on, and never let you go until the last page.