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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
David Cornish's 1980: The Emergence of HIV is a novel of historical fiction that begins with an introduction to the titular virus 14 million years prior on an East African island, and continues in a chronological and detailed timeline to its proliferation in the 1980s when the mortality rate stood at 100%. When Doctor Arthur Noble at Children's Hospital of San Francisco is asked to check on a patient named Alexander Horton, a chain of events kicks off with Noble at the helm of what initially appears to be an outbreak of Pneumocystis carinii – coined in the media as “gay pneumonia” - among homosexual men. Soon after, a patient he saved months prior named Sally Hightower is diagnosed with “the syndrome” as are others, including a young child, that lead Noble on a mission to “Follow the blood.”
Cornish's 1980: The Emergence of HIV is a wholly engrossing novel that brings the evolution of a long misunderstood and stigmatizing virus to the forefront. Delivered with an adept narrative that renders a sophisticated story with complex medical terms comfortable, David Cornish, MD writes with a skill reminiscent of Michael Crichton, blending factual events with fictional characters in a brilliant novel. The characters are all deeply developed and heavily layered, with just enough tension on each page to keep the level of suspense high, despite knowing (to a certain degree) how the technical aspects of the story end. I loved every page of this book and would award it a whole bucket of stars if that was possible.