Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: January 19th, 2016
Synopsis: Clare Campbell has worked hard to create distance between herself and her troubled family. By when she receives news of her parent’s murder, she’s forced to return to the quiet town of Clarkeston, Maine, to arrange their funeral and take legal guardianship of her unpredictable and mentally ill brother, Wes.
While Clare struggles to come to grips with the death of her parents, a terrifying pathogen outbreak overtakes the town. She is all too familiar with the resulting symptoms, which resemble those of her brother’s schizophrenia: hallucinations, paranoia, and bizarre, even violent, behavior. Before long, the government steps in–and one agent takes a special interest in Wes. Clare must make a horrifying decision: save her brother or save the world.
I love medical thrillers and when I read the premise of A Cure For Madness I had such high hopes. Unfortunately due to an initially unrelatable and unlikable protagonist, this wasn’t the perfect read I thought it would be.
Almost from the very beginning I had a difficult time getting a handle on Clare. She’s supposed to be thirty-one but her attitude and actions are those of a rebellious and impulsive teenager. She’s completely self-centered and shows absolutely no loyalty to the people she supposedly cares for, especially Wes. There’s a traumatic event in her past that I guess is supposed to explain why she’s this way, but I just couldn’t buy into it. I think this is partly because the way it’s written it almost comes across as a forced plot device to manipulate the reader into being more sympathetically-inclined toward Clare. Instead, it left me feeling even more frustrated with her. In the second half of the book, she slowly improves as she and Wes spend more time with one another, and by the end she does redeem herself. I also found the relationship between Clare and Wes interesting, and the author does a credible job exploring the difficulties of caring for someone who’s mentally ill. The character who really stood out for me was Wes. Displaying all of the traits of severe schizophrenia, he still draws you in and his suffering tugs at your heartstrings.
The storyline is fast-paced and WAS everything I had hoped for: mysterious pandemic, government cover-up, some light romance, and a great twist at the end–although I did feel it was a little rushed. It’s also a mini-cliffhanger, which has me wondering if there will be a sequel.
Despite my early issues with Clare, I did wind up enjoying A Cure For Madness. Enough so, that I’m actually hoping there’s a follow-up. If you’re looking for a quick medical thriller that you can read in 1-2 sittings, I recommend you give this a try.