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Pandemic: Beginnings  By  cover art

Pandemic: Beginnings

By: Bobby Akart
Narrated by: John David Farrell,Kris Adams
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Publisher's Summary

They attack with impunity, and without prejudice.

Their goal - to destroy you, from within.

A merciless enemy, just one-billionth our size.

Welcome to the next global war.

A new dystopian, post-apocalyptic fiction series from author Bobby Akart (the Blackout Series, the Boston Brahmin series, and the Prepping for Tomorrow series). The events depicted in the Pandemic Series are fictional. They are, however, based upon historical fact.

Beginnings:

Terrorists kidnap and blackmail a young French scientist in Western Africa. The outbreak of an ancient disease kills everyone in a village located in a remote jungle of Guatemala. US government operatives uncover a secret biological laboratory in Trinidad. An isolated death at the hands of this killer virus is discovered in Greece.

Is there a connection, or are these simply a string of coincidences?

Dr. Mackenzie Hagan, a highly-educated, well-respected epidemiologist at the CDC-Atlanta, is called to Guatemala. As the daughter of a retired commanding general of the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Mac often says infectious disease is in her blood. While no infectious disease outbreak is routine, this particular hot zone in Guatemala has its own set of complications - including a mysterious operative sent there by the Department of Defense. Events unfold and Mac is sent around the world investigating new cases involving this same, rare disease.

Nathan Hunter, a covert operative within an off-the-books project for the DOD, tracks down terrorists before they strike. As Hunter unravels a villainous plot with tentacles spanning the globe, his investigative path crosses with Mac's. Was it fate, or something else? Mac and Hunter work together to analyze the disease and to identify the source. But they soon learn that the biggest challenge they'll face is right at home.

©2017 Bobby Akart Inc. (P)2017 Bobby Akart Inc.

What listeners say about Pandemic: Beginnings

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Utterly Terrifying and Incredibly Enjoyable

I'm going to add a disclaimer to this review.  I LOVE Medical Thrillers/Bio-Thrillers.  I've taken a liking to them ever since reading Michael Crichton as a kid, and then Richard Preston as a teenager.  My fiction and non-fiction reading trajectory was paved with Medical Thrillers.  Because of this, I was genuinely worried that one of my favorite authors was going to let me down by writing a book about a potential outbreak and not do his research. I have never been happier to be wrong in my life. Akart was able to write a book that is both utterly terrifying and incredibly enjoyable at the same time.  I didn't even think that was a possibility.

With my disclaimer at the beginning, if you're not a bio-thriller or medical thriller fan (Robin Cook, Richard Preston, Michael Crichton, etc), you could still enjoy this book.  This book, in particular, didn't go too "sciencey" making it unapproachable for the average reader (or even just an Akart fan from his other two series).  It's a thriller where one of the main worries is a contagious and incredibly deadly disease. So it's action/thriller first and medical/bio second.  

But, knowing that Akart was writing this series had me waiting with bated breath until it was released on audio.  Then, I found out that he was going to use a dual narration for it.  My excitement level (which was already high) skyrocketed.  Usually, when that happens, the book is just okay, or average since I want it to be so good, I'm usually harder on it.  But, as I said above -- I shouldn't have doubted Akart, he absolutely knocked this book out of the park.  

Pandemic: Beginnings is a brilliant book that combines basically every aspect of a good thriller with great main characters and throws it into a washing machine with terrorism, bio-weapons, and diseases.  Turns it on "heavy soiled" and lets it go.  What comes out is a perfect mixture of all the best aspects of what I mentioned above and the ability to scare the heck out of a reader.  Seriously, shake someone's hand after reading this... I dare you.

"Mac" the doctor in this was a great main character who is both powerful and smart.  A great combination for a female protagonist.  She was also really funny and a few time when I wasn't scared for my life, Mac had me cracking up with the way that she thought of or approached things.  

Akart, who didn't set out to be a Medical Thriller author has written a book that will stick with me for a long time.  Easily comparable to Crichton, Cook, and Preston as one of my top bio-thriller books I've ever read.  And the best part is that he's just getting started.  I hope that what follows in this series will follow some of the same blueprints that he's already laid out in Beginnings. 

The dual narration was interesting.  I've heard this done well and terribly.  This was right in the middle.  In the beginning, I was worried because the female narration parts are only for talking parts.  Mac's internal thoughts were still narrated by Farrell.  At first, this really bugged me.  It just didn't seem to make any sense why it would work that way, but as I continued in the book and listening to it intently, I noticed that it didn't bother me anymore.  It made a little more sense.  Farrell is the main narrator who will give most of the talking parts, internal monologues, and "stage direction" (scene setting and stuff like this) while Adams (who has an AWESOME voice) will voice any female directly spoken parts.  It worked better than I first thought it would and honestly it made this book fly by.

I received a free copy of this book. It has not affected my review of my opinion.

If you enjoyed this review, please vote for it! Every vote helps. If you'd like to see more books like this please check out BriansBookBlog DOT com.

36 people found this helpful

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If you liked "Hot Zone" you will love this!

A terrific novel on the very real possibility of bio terrorism.

The book is very well written and somewhat reminds me of "The Hot Zone" regarding the Ebola and communicable diseases.

Bobby Akart does a terrific job with the book. The dual narrators took me a little while to get used to... but soon it flowed exceptionally well and I believe it added a new layer of depth to the book, and allowed for excellent character development.

I highly recommend "The Beginnings". Now on to "The Innocents"....

7 people found this helpful

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plausible and scary

A French scientist working in West Africa is kidnapped and made to work for his captors. Six months later people start dying in a small village in Guatemala, and soon after also in Greece. Dr.Mackenzie Hagan is in charge of this investigation, and she will soon learn that all these facts are related. Mac will try to find a way to fight what appears to be biological terrorism.

I always find medical thrillers amazing because what they describe feels so real. When I was listening to this audiobook I was imagining how plausible this was, and it was scary. Akart does not go very deep into the science behind but utilizes Mac to give clear explanations about how the plague works and the possible scenarios.

Mac is the main character in this story. She is good at what she does, but she is also funny and has a human side always present in the story. There are several parts in the book, as the plague appears in several parts of the globe, but they are nicely tied together thanks to this character. There are a couple of important characters after Mac, and while they are less developed, I also found them realistic. The dialogs are well constructed and they feel natural and fluid.

I wanted to mention that this book, although it is not a short one, is just a first approach to the situation. We are left with a cliffhanger, which had me wanting to know more and how humanity was going to be saved from this. 

There is some unjustified romance in this book, where the guy is nice, handsome and rich. This was uncalled for, in my opinion. And the fact that Mac at some point affirms that she believes in fate. For someone who does not, this sounds kind of hollow.

The type of narration in this book is called duet narration, in which the male narrator interprets male characters and the female narrator does female ones. While I am not a fan of dual narration (narrators taking turns in reading complete chapters), duet narration is something I can get used to, since the listener needs to pay less attention to which character is talking. The volume and transitions between both narrators were well done, and I did not notice any kind of the initial discomfort that I have had in other books. John David Farrell played well different voices, but his British accent did not convince me. Kris Adams has very good narration skills, but I felt that the female characters sounded quite similar (I had troubles discerning between Mac and Jeannie).

There is an incorrect pronunciation for Cerro de Muerte, using the Italian pronunciation instead of the Spanish. This is something that often happens in audiobooks. I just wish that narrators took the time to check the pronunciation of words in other languages. 

Another minor issue I found was two repeated sentences towards the end of the book, by Farrell (6:55:41 and 6:56:03).

I really enjoyed this audiobook, which I found scary at times. I would totally recommend it not only to medical thriller fans, but also anyone who enjoys a good thriller.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog

[If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

6 people found this helpful

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So Scary!!

When I first saw this advertised I immediately went and pre-ordered all 4 in the series. I enjoy this authors work and love bio/medical thrillers. I read the ebook first and absolutely devoured it, then got the audio when it came out and eagerly dived in again!!

This starts with a French Scientist being kidnapped and made to work on.... something. Then we see Mackenzie Hagan, of the CDC, dispatched to a remote village where all the inhabitants are dead. What could possible kill the whole village? While there she meets Nathan Hunter, an employee of the Department of Defense. He is there to investigate the killings too. What connection could an unknown virus have with the the DOD? It's up to Mac to find out.

So many thoughts ran through my head while reading this. What happens here is something that terrifies me. The idea of a Pandemic is something, in this day and age, that could happen easily. With people travelling so easily from place to place, and a virus that is spread so quickly, it all adds up to a very scary and terrifying scenario!!

Anyway, Bobby Akart has really done his research for this. He explained everything in such a way to make it easy for anyone to understand. How the bio weapon was made and the effects it had were brilliantly written. It really and truly makes you think. Every time I went anywhere and heard any coughs or sneezes it frightened me!!! Plus the idea of the final Jihad was extremely scary.

I also loved Mac and Hunter. Mac is a strong, smart female lead and I loved how she handled everything. She always did what was right, no matter what anyone else thought. I loved her interactions with Hunter and look forward to seeing how their friendship grows.

This is a story of what could happen and how easily it could!!! It definitely makes you think, what if? What would you do? When I read it first, it blew me away, but the audio was amazing.

John David Farrell and Kris Adams were awesome. I couldn't believe that it's Kris Adams first narration, she did a brilliant job. She was easy to listen to and her inflections were really good. As for John David Farrell, he was just as good. I've listened to a few by him and he always does a good job. I will say though, it took a few minutes to get used to the dual narration, just because Farrell narrated most of it, including Mac's inner thoughts, where Adams narrated the female talking parts. I wondered why for a while, but after a few chapters it didn't matter. It worked really well!!!

6 people found this helpful

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Great Potential Marred By Confusing Execution

There's a great plot here but a number of the story mechanisms and characters are confusing and drag it down. First up is CNN. Why use CNN throughout the book? Akart portrays CNN as an old school, real journalistic entity - something it most definitely is not. He even uses actual CNN personalities and their behavior is about as far from reality as possible. Is this the written version of "product placement" that has run rampant in TV and film? Then comes the primary characters. Their romantic relationship reads like it was written by a 14 year old girl. A billionaire special forces operative who's great looking and sensitive? And a no-nonsense, tall beautiful "Girl Powah!" CDC researcher?

The obvious political bias Akart has (not uncommon these days, unfortunately, in this genre) as he portrays the (R) side as cynical and worried about power and reelection while the (D) side is all about "caring".

Finally, the "dialogue" between supposed "experts" is used ham handed as a way to educate the reader on the topics of diseases. Listening to these characters tell each each other "elevator speech" versions of these topics would be like standing around a garage and hearing one veteran mechanic say to another "cars use combustion engines" or "Brake pads work by creating friction".

5 people found this helpful

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Great book, extremely annoying multi-person narration

Book and story great, but the choice for using two narrators was the worst idea. The male narrator is great, I've listened to a lot of books he's done. The female who reads only the female dialog out loud is awful. She uses the same bland voice and emotion for every character regardless of situation. Someone drinking tea? Someone dying? Someone terrified? Someone happy? SAME VOICE. The same terrible, non-differentiated voice. And her voice is so different from the male narrator and higher in pitch it makes the distinction worse.

I feel bad giving the performance a one star given the great job the primary narrator did and how well he's done in the past. None of this bad review is his fault.

5 people found this helpful

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OMG, don't waste your time

Spending a credit was bad enough, but truth is I lost some of my time listening to the beginning of this awful book. The author seem more interesting in advancing his political agenda than telling a story.

4 people found this helpful

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You will want to wash your hands.

Would you consider the audio edition of Pandemic: Beginnings to be better than the print version?

Yes, the readers do a great job. I felt like the readers where very in character.

What did you like best about this story?

The "beggings" sends time developmenting and laying out the deadliness of the virus. If you love medical thrillers, Counter-terror adventures, and end of the world books, you will love the Pandemic series.

What does John David Farrell and Kris Adams bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Yes, the readers do a great job. I felt like the readers where very in character.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes, the moment when the ms14 gang attack Hunter and Max.

Any additional comments?

The "beggings" sends time developmenting and laying out the deadliness of the virus. If you love medical thrillers, Counter-terror adventures, and end of the world books, you will love the Pandemic series.

4 people found this helpful

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Sorry I bothered

What would have made Pandemic: Beginnings better?

Less proselytizing and more art form would have made this book better. OK, I get it. ISIS is our enemy and I want to wipe them out too. But the author seems like he's advancing a political agenda and not writing a book of fiction. I gave up 3 hours into listening. By that time I did not remember or care who the main characters were. I was listening in my car and it seemed several times the story deviated from being a book into being a political essay. The first time it happened I checked to see if my iPad had shut off and a talk radio station had come up. The author should focus more on his art form.

Would you ever listen to anything by Bobby Akart again?

Maybe. Not sure.

Would you be willing to try another one of John David Farrell and Kris Adams ’s performances?

No. The performances were too stiff and formal. They sounded as if they were reading the manuscript for the first time.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Can't think of any right now.

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent, terrifying, realist storyline!

If you like your nightmares believable, check out this amazing series! You can definitely tell this author has done a ton of research, which is why it's so terrifying! There are plenty of scientific references without being at ALL boring. Excellent storyline and well rounded, relatable characters. This is one of the best series I've found!

3 people found this helpful

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  • KatieP_83x
  • 05-28-19

Author needs to research

if you are going to set a book in various locales around the world, try drawing inspiration from places you've been or a friend has been, or places you've googled or a friend has googled. The constant stereotyping of races and nations is also grating. The author may as well have had his heroes shouting 'Murica' with every other breath. Tiresome, I couldn't finish. I got as far as being told that Cardiff University is in London. It's not, it's perhaps unsurprisingly in Cardiff.

1 person found this helpful

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  • dale_mcewan
  • 01-17-18

EXCELLENT STORY - HELD MY INTEREST THOUGHOUT

Quite apart from being a really well-balanced book, and very relevant today, it appears to be very well researched. I kept checking on Google to find out if certain bits of information were true. Yes, they were. I normally would be very disappointed to find that the book is not self-standing, however, I bought it as the first in a trilogy and immediately bought the followup. Can't wait to continue. I feel it deserves the 5-star rating all round. Loved the narrators and the performance.

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  • Steve
  • 01-14-18

Great book

Great book, great story, great performance. Can’t wait for Book number 2. I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who enjoy pandemic literature.