The Memory of Animals

Tin House. Jun. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9781953534873. $27.95. F
Fuller’s compelling fifth novel (after the Costa Award–winning Unsettled Ground) takes place during a near-future pandemic that has caused widespread death, with people panicking, roads jammed, and supermarket shelves bare. At a secret lab near London, healthy young volunteers lured by a lot of money are to receive an untested vaccine, followed by an injection of the virus. Marine biologist Neffy is the first volunteer to be injected, but her bad reaction frightens the staff and other volunteers, who make a hasty exit. Unconscious for a week, Neffy recovers to the horror of being abandoned and locked in the lab with only four other volunteers, none of whom have received the vaccine. With no rescue in sight, Neffy has plenty to think about in addition to their survival, and her presumed immunity means that she is the one to venture outside the lab to face roving gangs, infected people, and the putrefying dead to bring back food and water. Their last hope is a barely running ambulance that could allow them to escape to the countryside for a better future.
VERDICT A riveting, don’t-miss account of what some may see as the reality to come; long-time Fuller readers will relish this completely engrossing story, which questions what we value most.
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