Survival (The Nightbird Series)

Fiction - Suspense
395 Pages
Reviewed on 10/06/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Pandemic: Survival is a work of fiction in the horror, suspense, thriller, and action subgenres, and it forms the sixth installment in The Nightbird series. It is best suited to mature adult readers. Penned by author Cynthia Fridsma, the story unfolds with a tense situation at a Boston mall, where terrorists have taken control. Jack Hunter, an agent of the Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU), becomes the city's last hope to stop these terrorists and prevent a catastrophe. But the mission doesn't end there. A deadly virus begins to spread in Boston after the shootings, and Jack realizes that someone is behind this outbreak with a sinister plan to destroy the city. Simultaneously, we meet Sybil Crewes, a former ATU agent dealing with PTSD after surviving the Nightbird attack during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her life takes a dangerous turn when someone attempts to kill her. Sybil has vital information that could stop the Tranq virus, a drug that turns its victims into zombies. She joins forces with Jack in a race against time to find a cure and save the world.

Author Cynthia Fridsma really knows how to grip an audience by the throat and not let go until the last suspenseful second. Reading Pandemic: Survival was an adrenaline-pumping experience that had new shocks and twists in every chapter. The fast-paced narrative, filled with action and suspense, kept me eagerly turning pages to discover the next atmospheric and cinematically described moment. The characters are also very well-drawn, and the dynamic between the central pairing adds some light relief to the tale thanks to their slick, enigmatic dialogue, breaking up the suspense nicely. What sets this book apart is its relevance to the world we live in, addressing the themes of terrorism, bioweapons, and a pandemic, which hit very close to home given recent global events. The shocking truth revealed toward the end of the novel adds an unexpected layer to the story, leaving readers with plenty to ponder. Overall, Pandemic: Survival is a thrilling and thought-provoking read that seamlessly combines elements of suspense, action, and intrigue, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Jamie Michele

In Pandemic by Cynthia Fridsma, medical examiners find terrorists with blisters and a syringe labeled "Red Dragon" following an attack. ATU agent Jack Hunter witnesses a doctor being infected with a virus from one of the infected and isolates the rest. Autopsies reveal the virus to be a COVID-19 mutant with a four-day incubation period and severe symptoms. Another ATU data analyst admits to administering Red Dragon to others without detailed recipient information. Meanwhile, former counterterrorism agent Sybil experiences haunting visions and psychiatric hospitalization due to a deadly COVID-19 variant and a hidden identity. Sybil is taken from the hospital by a niece with ulterior motives. As all this and more unravels, Jack is determined to uncover the truth amidst ongoing medical experiments, sinister forces, conspiracies, kidnapping and ransom plots, and back-to-back biological threats in a city gripped by viral outbreaks and zombie-infested facilities.

Pandemic by Cynthia Fridsma is the sixth novel in the Nightbird series, something I did not know when I actually picked it up, but reads perfectly well as a standalone. The fact that I was able to get to know established characters, Jack and Sybil in particular, to a point where I could connect to them is a testament to Fridsma's skill of development. I liked that the dystopian zombie angle has a supernatural undercurrent in others and the role blood plays in Sybil's intensely deep turmoil. Fridsma amplifies this despair with dangerously manipulative family and violence, which makes Sybil's arc even more heartbreaking. There are loads of moving parts and alternating viewpoints, from the Black Widow and a contract killing relation to doctors, interns, and other ATU agents, including Catherine, who has some spanners of her own. Each is written well enough so that they are all distinct and easy to follow, down to the ancillary characters and their subplots. From a literary standpoint, the style is concise and straightforward, and Fridsma eschews flowery prose for no-nonsense dialogue that keeps the pace rolling forward. Recommended.

Miche Arendse

In the face of political subterfuge, Jack Hunter must unravel the complicated mess of a terrorist attack and a virus outbreak in Pandemic: Survival (The Nightbird Series) by Cynthia Fridsma. Having taken down the notorious Red Dragon gang, Jack uncovers some unsettling information; however, when trouble arises from all around, it takes help from an old friend to truly get to the bottom of things. Can Jack and former ATU agent Sybil Crewes find a cure for the outbreak and stop the masterminds behind it all?

Pandemic: Survival by Cynthia Fridsma was a breath of fresh air, taking the setting of post-pandemic society and utilizing it to create a unique and suspenseful story. Action-packed from beginning to end, there wasn’t a single dull moment when reading Pandemic and while I rarely read this genre I found myself enjoying this book. Fridsma did a really good job with the world-building and pacing of the story, allowing the reader to come to terms with the circumstances of the world and the characters in it. Speaking of characters, I really enjoyed the cast of characters, especially Jack. As one would expect from the protagonist of a story, he is the picture of moral integrity but there is a grittiness to him that makes him feel so real. I found his personality to be very endearing and I loved how he endured and faced every problem thrown at him. Overall, Pandemic is an interesting and action-packed novel with many twists and turns throughout that leave you feeling satisfied in the end.