The Noise – James Patterson and JD Barker
I devoured James Patterson’s novels decades ago, and after all these years, I can say returning to him in this book, there’s a very different atmosphere and plot than what I expected. Also, JD Barker (who I also love) is co-authoring this one, and I see the influence with the type of foreboding suspense created.
In a survivalist community in the Oregon Woods near Mount Hood, a ground-shuddering debilitating noise grows louder and louder. With screaming and blood pouring from multiple orifices, the parents of sixteen-year-old Tennant Riggin and her eight-year-old sister Sophia hide them in a storm cellar. Tennant has the foresight to plug her ears with beeswax and tries to protect her sister’s hearing as best she can. After the noise subsides, Tennant and Sophie are permanently affected, with Sophie in pretty bad shape. When they venture outside, they are alone, and the landscape is in ruins.
The US government assembles an elite team of military, medical, computer and scientific specialists to investigate the phenomenon, including Dr Martha Chan and Dr Sanford Harbin. The team is only permitted to spend two hours at the site where they find hundreds of people dead within a crevasse not far away. When they recover the bodies and house them in a temporary morgue, the body temperatures of the corpses are continuously rising. The civilian specialists are mistrustful of the information and movement restrictions, and we find Martha and Harbin start to defy orders and investigate beyond their agreed scope.
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Fraser heads up the on-the-ground military operation. He discovers Tennant and Sophie hiding in another shelter and takes them back to camp, where they meet Dr Chan, who develops a closer relationship with the sisters. When the vibrations, noise, and destruction return, they realise that people affected by the anomaly are being herded into an incredible mass, running at incredible speed on a path toward Portland, destroying everything in their path. What seems like a mind-controlling infection is recruiting hundreds of thousands and will soon be millions. Beyond that extinction, and the Earth will be at peace.
The Noise is a story with tones of supernatural, science fiction, thriller, secret military weapons testing, biological viruses and Mother Earth fighting back against human mistreatment and abuse. One thing is for sure: we’re racing towards an apocalyptic ending. The novel kicks into high gear immediately, and with the short snappy chapters, impending sense of doom, and a fast-paced plot to find answers, this is a fascinating novel. I found that while the story maintained a fast pace, it seemed to circle the same situations. The characters are there for the plot, and their depth isn’t explored as much as I would have liked, but perhaps that’s a price you pay for action-fuelled time-pressed stories.
It was great to get back to James Patterson and with JD Barker made this an enjoyable read overall. I would recommend this book to all lovers of action-packed thrillers. The underlying messages for our planet’s health and messing with science and technology are very apt in our modern world. I would like to thank Random House UK, Cornerstone and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC in return for an honest review.