I read some of the short stories in Six Degrees by Australian author Honey Brown last year but didn’t finish as they were too explicitly sexual for my taste, but the writing was good and I was keen to find Red Queen because it is an end-of-world novel, a genre I love.
Red Queen starts with Rohan and Shannon, two Australian brothers living in their parent’s cabin in the bush after a flu-like virus has decimated much of the world’s human population. Their father was an end-of-the world-er (gotta love ’em) who built their hidden cabin to be self-sufficient, possibly around the time we all expected the world to end with the millennial bug. He also built massive bunkers and filled them with chocolate and wine and flour and sugar and baked beans in anticipation of just such an event, but sadly he and the boy’s mother died of the Red Queen virus before they could enjoy their foresight.
Rohan, at 38, is in charge. He is tough and angry and constantly annoyed with his younger brother Shannon, who is 23 and a day-dreamer who forgets to keep a look-out for intruders because he is playing his guitar. When someone sneaks into the cabin and starts stealing food, the brothers are terrified they might have been exposed to the virus.
When the intruder makes herself known to Rohan and Shannon she throws herself on their mercy, and the dynamics of the brother’s relationship changes. Denny adds a sexual element to the novel which was more interesting for the possessiveness and jealousy that arose than for the explicitly-described activities themselves.
Of course Rohan, Shannon and Denny aren’t the only survivors of the Red Queen virus and eventually their battle to survive takes an unexpected turn.
I wish the author had told me more about what happened in the cities when the Red Queen virus hit Australia, and more about the background of the virus, such as where did it come from and was anyone immune? I would also have liked a less predictable ending, but there were a few twists and turns which I didn’t see coming.
I have a cold now. I’m filled up with phlegm and can’t stop sneezing. Hopefully it’s only a strain of the Red Queen virus, because I don’t want the Man-Flu. I had the Man-Flu once and it was terrible. It felt like the end of the world…