There was a great deal of hype surrounding this book, Cold Storage by David Koepp, which kept popping up in my email and all my book-related social media. I always enjoy a good sci-fi thriller and apocalyptic-type narrative, so thought I would give it a go. Koepp comes with good credentials having written the screenplays to some very successful blockbusters. I was ready for an edge-of-your-seat, high-octane ride. And, I did get that in parts.
What should have probably sent some warning bells my way was the fact many critics mentioned how funny the book was. While laughter is often the natural response to danger or being frightened, I am not entirely certain the end of the world should be that hilarious. But I reserved my judgement.
This is story that begins 30 odd years before the main events. We read about a team of scientists who travel to a remote community in Western Australia where a fungus has wiped out an entire community. The scientists retrieve the fungus and manage to return it to the US where they put it in a storage facility deep underground where a constant freezing temperature should keep the deadly organism dormant.
Fast forward to now and two security guards at a storage facility are puzzled when an alarm sounds and they discover a hidden vault deep underground which has thermal controls that are malfunctioning. When they realise just how catastrophic this is and infected people and creatures start to run amok, they are forced to put their own lives in danger to save the world. But, they’re not alone. Called to take control is retired scientist cum operative, Roberto Diaz. Older, wiser and with a lot less to lose, he makes the hard decisions, decisions that may yet cost more lives than he bargained for.
This is a story that requires you to suspend your disbelief and then some. I am all for that if the narrative takes hold of me. This mostly did though at times I found the anthropomorphising of the fungus a bit irksome and the rather gruesome antics of the animals more than my credibility could bear. Also, I didn’t find it as funny as clearly others did. Maybe my humour gene wasn’t working. Not sure. Some of the characters are cliched, but others work very well.
You can tell this novel is written by a screenwriter as some of the scenes are very cinematic and there’s no doubt, there are parts of the novel where the pages are being turned swiftly because the pace is thrilling. Unfortunately, there are also parts, for this reader at least, where I was turning the pages to simply get to the end.
Overall, a good holiday read that will mean you never look at deer, cats or fungus the same way again.