Contagion: Book 1 (Dark Matter) by Teri Terry

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Contagion: Book 1 (Dark Matter) by Teri Terry

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Conspiracy thriller with touches of sci-fi, supernatural and dystopian genres. A virus is ravaging Britain and a young girl is missing. Pacy, exciting stuff with great thematic depth.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: May 2017
Publisher: Orchard
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408341727

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It's not a spoiler if I tell you that bad things happen to Callie because they do. Callie - Calista - disappeared more than a year ago. Her brother Kai is still looking for her, hopeful that she will be found alive and well. But Callie isn't alive and well. She's been taken to a secretive medical facility on the island of Shetland, experimented on, and then, well, turned into something else. How?

Meanwhile, Shay, struggling to fit in in her remote Scottish village, comes across a Missing Person poster. She recognises Callie as the girl she saw in the woods a while back and calls the number on the poster in the hope she can help. That's how she comes to meet Kai. And it turns out that the day Shay saw Callie was the very day she disappeared. Immediately attracted to Kai, Shay resolves to do all she can to help him find his sister.

But the quest is hampered by a mysterious virus that has broken out across Scotland and the north of England. Quarantine zones are springing up. The army is called in. Only one in twenty of those who contract the so-called Aberdeen Flu survive it. How can Kai and Shay search for Callie while this is going on? And does the virus have any connection with her disappearance?

Told in short, sharp chapters alternating in POV between Shay and Callie, Contagion is a rollercoaster of a read. I couldn't put it down. I like a good conspiracy thriller and the idea of a deadly virus sweeping the nation is such a scary thing, isn't it? And not an impossible one either. On that aspect, and with the picture Terry paints of an authoritarian government response, Contagion feels horribly, horribly real. And I liked all three main characters - Callie is lonely and lost and confused; Shay is brave and bright and non-conformist; Kai is angry and grieving but honest and loyal.

One minor quibble. Contagion is the first book in a trilogy. We know this before we start reading. But I still like my books to have an ending even if I know there is more to come. Contagion ends on a cliffhanger with precious few plot lines tied up. I know this is common. I know many authors do it. But I'll never like it. I want a book to be a whole, not a mere instalment. I want a trilogy to have an overall plot arc and each book to have an individual narrative of its own. Most people won't mind and you, dear reader, probably won't mind, so just see this review paragraph as my periodic shout into the void.

This regular moan of mine aside, I loved Contagion. It has an interesting premise and the story is told with great action and a breathless pace. The central characters are well-drawn and relatable. It blends several genres - conspiracy thriller, dystopian, sci-fi, even a bit of the supernatural - to great effect. It has a wonderful, evocative setting and sense of landscape. I think Teri Terry has a real talent for writing exciting stories that are accessible and easy to read but also have a thought-provoking thematic depth. She makes you think.


If Contagion appeals, you might also enjoy Ultraviolet by R J Anderson, which also blends super-powers, sci-fi and a dystopian setting. We also loved The Starlight Conspiracy by Steve Voake, a glittering mix of conspiracy thriller, road trip, and sci-fi mystery. Adults might enjoy Blackfish City by Sam J Miller. We've also enjoyed Book of Lies by Teri Terry.

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Buy Contagion: Book 1 (Dark Matter) by Teri Terry at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Contagion: Book 1 (Dark Matter) by Teri Terry at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.

Buy Contagion: Book 1 (Dark Matter) by Teri Terry at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Contagion: Book 1 (Dark Matter) by Teri Terry at


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