Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Book Review: The Cobra Event by Richard Preston

The Cobra Event
Author: Richard Preston
Released Date: August 29th 1998
Publisher: Ballantine Books

Five days ago. a homeless man on a subway platform died in agony as startled commuters looked on. Yesterday, a teenager started having violent, uncontrollable spasms in art class. Within minutes, she too was dead.

Dr. Alice Austen is a medical pathologist at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. What she knows is that the two deaths are connected. What she fears is that they are only the beginning…

*Goodreads Blurb*


It begins with a common cold. You find yourself blowing your nose every moment. You sneeze occasionally. You take some cold syrup. The syrup doesn’t help. You feel even worse. You're drifting apart. Someone’s talking to you, but you aren’t paying any attention. You feel weak and weary and disoriented. And then you suddenly drop to the floor, thrashing around violently. You feel strange blisters in your mouth. Next you begin to chew your lips and the insides of your mouth in relish. You know you’re hurting yourself but you just can’t help it. Then your spine begins to curve backward and backward, until you…

Sounds creepy, right?

Well, I’ve just described how the Cobra virus works.

The Cobra Event is a realistic science fiction. It’s about a virus, Cobra, which affects the brain and turns one into a monster, killing oneself from inside.

A homeless man dies on a subway platform. Days later, a teenager dies under strange circumstances. Dr. Alice Austen of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is sent to New York to examine what seems like an outbreak of a disease. Along with her fellow scientists, she discovers this disease is actually a virus, released by an unknown terrorist, with strong indications of a bigger release to come soon. What follows is a flurry of scientific activities as they battle to discover the properties of this new virus, because doing that would help identify the terrorist.

This is one of those kinds of books I refer to as edutainment. I learnt much scientific stuff while reading. I was entertained by the chilling story as well. There were lots of biological and medical stuffs I liked in the book. I was distracted, though, by some of the expositions. The author seemed to explain everything, and with too many details, the reading experience felt like science lecture sometimes. I was detached a bit, but I kept on reading because I wanted to see how everything ends, though I predicted rightly who would and who wouldn’t survive.

About the characters, I didn’t really connect with any of them. I felt they didn’t have much depth. The bad guy, a scientist-turned-terrorist, however, was a real bad guy.

Overall, I’d say The Cobra Event is a wonderful read. I loved the chills it gave me—sometimes I stopped to wonder what if the air I were breathing was filled with virus particles. That’s what this book does to you. It shows you what a bioterrorist attack could look like today. I’d have given it more stars if the first part of the book didn’t drag out. The last fifty pages, with its fired shots and explosions, were the best parts.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good medical thriller and who doesn’t mind lectures while reading fiction. The author has some really great nonfiction books.

You’ll love this book if you’re a Michael Crichton fan.

So, here goes my three (***) stars to The Cobra Event.


  1. The cover is plain creepy. I'm not sure I'd like to read a medical thriller, but I have watched several movies along the premise of this book. I like a little predictability in my story. I'm not sure if the reason is because I like the ego boost or if it's a small comfort in the scary world I'm reading about. The virus sounds like it makes for gruesome scenes. The mouth chewing had me turning away from the computer! Great review, Kaykay!

    Happy reading!

    1. LOL! I agree with you on the cover, Robyn. But I like this kind of creepy covers. About the mouth chewing, it was really creepy. In fact, there are lots of scenes in the book creepier than that small descriptive passage before the review. I loved the book. The lectures and histories only put me off a bit.

      Thanks for stopping by. Do have a great weekend! :)

  2. This sounds creeptastic. I'm not a big science fan, but I think that this sounds pretty unique! I'm glad you enjoyed it.:)

    1. Thanks, Sarah. Yeah, it really was creeptastic. :) I loved it.

      Thanks for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend! :)