I read Sick and Exit 9 back-to-back in one frantic, tense, and exciting week, and I’m glad I did. Sick is the first book in the Project Eden trilogy, and introduces us to a group of bio-terrorists who want to rid the world of 99.9% of the population in order to start a new and better breed of humans. Now, this concept isn’t new or original. There have been plenty of books and movies, not to mention historical events, which deal with the idea that humanity is out of control, and the only way to make things right is to start from scratch. But in typical Battles fashion, Brett has created an exciting story about the race to stop the bad guys from carrying out their plan, and he’s added some new twists to the mix.
Sick takes place during the testing stages of Project Eden, the nefarious plan to decimate the population. Daniel Ash and his family have moved into a housing development for ex-military families and are adjusting to their new home. One night Ash is awakened by a cry from his daughter’s room, and by the end of Chapter 1, Ash’s wife is dead, both his son and daughter are direly ill, and Ash himself is forced to run for his life. There’s a virus out there killing people called the sage flu, and almost no one survives. Except, we discover, Ash and his children, who appear to be immune.
Exit 9 picks up eight months after the thrilling conclusion to Sick, as Ash and his children have changed their identities and are hiding out in a small town in Iowa. In other parts of the world, Project Eden’s wheels are still turning, and Implementation Day, the day they plan on releasing sage flu on an unsuspecting world, is only weeks away. A band of resistance fighters, including Pax and Matt from Sick, are trying to locate Bluebird, the secret base of Project Eden. When one of their many teams fails to report in after a routine scouting operation, Ash is recruited and joins Pax and Chloe, another character from Sick, on what turns out to be a dangerous mission to Northern Canada to see what went wrong. Elsewhere around the globe, we get a glimpse of just how big Project Eden really is, as we follow various minor characters in their discovery of the mysterious shipping containers that seem to be popping up everywhere. The reappearance of Olivia, an imprisoned character from Sick who was once part of the Project but seems to have switched sides, adds excitement to the story as she joins Ash and the others and convinces them she is trying to help bring down Project Eden.
This break-down of the story barely scratches the surface. There is a lot going on in Exit 9, and it happens fast and furiously. Brett skillfully jumps from place to place as each character moves closer to the dangerous truth and the bodies start to pile up. He is also adept at delving into the lives and back-stories of his characters. One of my favorites is Chloe, a damaged woman who has an as yet undisclosed past with Project Eden and struggles with her fear of those in charge and her desire to stop them. Is there a vaccine? What’s in those shipping containers? And why the heck is the book called “Exit 9”? The answers to these questions and more are waiting for the patient reader, and although the ending is gleefully devilish and you may be cursing Brett by the time you finish, have faith: Book Three will be out soon.
Many thanks to Brett for supplying me with free review copies of Sick and Exit 9.