Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The God Virus - J.E. Murphy



Title: The God Virus
Author: J.E. Murphy
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2011
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

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"The God Virus" by JE Murphy is an incredibly interesting and rather surreal science fiction/fantasy novel that explores a world turned upside down due to a very miraculous virus. The story begins with a man named Judeus finding a strange woman washed up on the beach who he later finds out is called Miranda. When he attempts to use mouth to mouth to revive her he becomes infected with a virus which in the future would become known as the Miranda Virus. This virus is unlike any other and it begins to affect every living creature on Earth, including humans, animals and even plants. As the virus encounters different creatures it takes elements of their DNA and begins to infect other creatures with the DNA it has previously taken. Before long, there are people with bird's beaks, dogs that can talk and Miranda herself who appears to be able to change her entire body shape like some sort of sea sponge.

When the highly religious Judeus persuades Miranda to journey to Rome to meet the Pope in the hope of getting a marriage blessing, a madcap adventure beings which really explores the insanity that has embraced the planet. However, during their journey they discover that a cure has been created in Rome that could kill everything on the planet and they realise there is more at risk than their own wedded bliss. Therefore together with an army of mutated humans and animals they march upon the last bastion of the supposedly uninfected, Vatican City itself.

The synopsis of the book I have detailed above probably doesn't do the surreal elements enough justice. To put it simply, I think that Murphy is giving Terry Pratchett a run for his money in the insanity stakes with this story. I really did smile throughout as I watched the virus create what at times was some quite humorous havoc across the planet. The rather surreal environment did result in a world that seems a little bit too basic and simple for me but I just suspended my disbelief and tried to enjoy the adventure.

The book isn't all about surreal humour and strange events however and I found there was a good mix hidden within the meat of the story. The elements of adventure and action are well supported by some rather interesting theological discussions between the characters. This is mainly due to Judeus and Miranda come from opposing view points: one is a scientist whilst the other is highly religious. The book uses this to explore the clash between religion and science and highlights that sometimes these two are not as mutually exclusive as some people believe.

The biggest weakness in the story for me was in regards to the way in which the virus affected Judeus and Miranda. It more or less enabled them to become superhuman which made it a little bit too easy for them to overcome some of the various problems they faced. It doesn't really detract from the story but it would have been nicer to see some difficulty in the way they had to face adversity.

Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable novel that is full of humour adventure, philosophy and action aplenty which should keep most people entertained. I highly recommend this to anyone that enjoys a good post-apocalyptic read, especially those who are after something a little bit different to what you normally see in that genre.

Challenges Book Counts Towards:
Ebook Reading Challenge (Workaday Reads)
Free Reads Challenge
Speculative Fiction Challenge