On the Horizon – cat zero (Jennifer Rohn)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

cat zero (Jennifer Rohn)

Title: cat zero

Author: Jennifer Rohn

Publisher: Biting Duck Press

Publication Date: January 2, 2018 (paperback)

ISBN: 978-1938463662

Source: NetGalley


Well me mateys, while this be an enjoyable read, it certainly wasn’t what I was expectin’.  If ye read the blurb, ye get an idea that this is going to be a post-apocalyptic tale about a virus killin’ off both cats and humanity with a scientist racin’ to find a cure as quickly as possible.  This is not the case.  I kept waiting for the human death count to spiral out of control.  The first confirmed human death didn’t even arrive until around the 60% mark and there was never another.  And the solution to the problem was certainly not a real rush.  So if ye be expectin’ that kind of tale then this is not fer ye.

This book was is what the author calls “lab-lit.”  Her amazon page says that it “is a small but growing genre of mainstream fiction about scientists and science as a profession.”  Her website explains more about the ramifications of the term.  Amazon also says that Jennifer Rohn “leads a research lab at University College London in the United Kingdom, studying how bacteria subvert human cells during infection.”  Cool!

So while this book did not end up being what I thought, I still very much enjoyed it for both the science and characters.  I have no scientific background except fer some chemistry classes back in the day and a best mate who is a vet.  This story takes us through a mini-crash course of virology specifically concerning VSN RNA and feline leukemia (FeLV).  I could follow along fairly well.  The science part of the plot involves trying to figure out what the virus is and how it is evolving.  Ye spend the majority of the time in the lab hearing about the day-to-day life, experiments, and politics.  Oh and there is some stuff about epidemiologists and mathematical modeling.  The math stuff did go over me head.

The characterizations were where much of the tension in the book came from.  All of the main characters suffering from mental illness of some kind – autism, phobias, etc.  The scientists were a quirky bunch.  Artemis, the main protagonist, finds herself in complication relationships with the three other male scientists that are working on the problem with her.  There are so many secrets and complicated issues that she is not sure who to trust.  And of course one of those men happens to be both her post-doc and odd love interest.  So add sexual tension in there.  Oh and Aremis is trying to go through a divorce too.  More sexual tension and angst.

I would normally find all these science and relationship elements to be overwhelming but instead I found meself pondering how it would all resolve.  This kept me readin’.  The answers for both the epidemic and relationships where a little underwhelming but nicely wrapped up.  It ended up being a pleasant read.  So if ye like lots of science in detail and crazy people doing crazy things then this read might be for ye.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Biting Duck Press!

Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jennifer Rohn – Author

To buy the novel go to:

cat zero – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

15 thoughts on “On the Horizon – cat zero (Jennifer Rohn)

  1. I haven’t heard about lab-lit before, but it sure does sound intriguing. Also weird that the blurb is so misleading. Still nice that it turned out to be a pretty good story nonetheless. Always a great thing when the science doesn’t impede on your enjoyment. Great review, Captain. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Back in me earlier life I enjoyed lab work (chemistry class lab work but still!). I just realized that I don’t have the patience for the scientific method. Too rigorous. But mixing toxic volatile chemicals and blowing things up – well that be awesome! Now math – algebra and geometry float me boat. Geometry in particular be useful. But calculus and above? Always feels like I have had too much rum, too much sun, not enough sleep, and everyone in port won’t stop makin’ a racket and just shut up. Me head aches it does.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hear you on that. I got friends in University studying biochem who have to wait after their solutions for hours and even days. While the whole stoichiometry is fun, I doubt I’d be able to renew interest in that field now hahah

        Oh, I loved math, especially everything related to algebra. Solving those were just soooo much fun. But once I got into college and had friends do calculus, I was glad I didn’t have to live through that. I do however wonder if I would’ve liked like though. I still have a bit of me that craves for math stuff here and then.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think all that waiting would literally kill me. I don’t need instant results but days and days. The scientists in this book were so lackluster about the time waiting. I mean there could be a worldwide epidemic and weeks passed in the storyline. I might be real science but it is odd. I guess cultures can only go so fast. I have no craving fer math these days. And I am okay with that.
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That is weird that the synopsis says “people” start to die. People = plural. Why didn’t people actually die in the book, I wonder. I feel like this could have been a comedy horror. Cats start dying left and right, so cat ladies the world over mobilize to find a cure and keep Fluffems alive!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would love to read the comedy version of this. Cat people (meself included) are crazy! I watch a documentary about cat show people and it was both amusing and horrifying. Also in the book there weren’t that many cats that died either. It was talking about an epidemic possibility that never happened. Odd but again, I still enjoyed it! Thanks fer the fun comment matey!
      x The Captain


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