Machine Sickness

Imagine having too much of a very good thing, such as a bacterium that devours the oil from oil spills. Well, not too much, exactly, but one that is too good at what it does. What if that particular bacterium also dissolves any and all petroleum products? That’s what happened in this suspenseful sci-fi novel, Machine Sickness, by Peri Dwyer Worrell. The book is part one in the series “Eupocalypse”.

I have a science background which I believe made the book even more interesting to me. Still, I had no idea so many of the things we use daily are, or contain, polymers made from petroleum. These are things we take for granted without considering their chemical composition. The book is enlightening, and it is frightening to consider whether this could actually happen.

Like many authors, Ms. Worrell shares her political and philosophical views through her characters’ discussions and arguments:

  • DD, (the main character) “…was used to the perpetual budget starvation of academia, where the football coach lived in a mansion… and everyone else learned to clip coupons and amuse themselves at free concerts in the park.”
  • The U.S. President is married to an “elegant model” and is a billionaire who one character suspects “…was silently scheming to use this emergency to get his hands back on the reins of his multinational business empire…” and who has a tendency to “…erupt into one of his face-saving tirades…”
  • Another character muses that, “Ultimately, all pacifists benefit from the protection of those who aren’t pacifists.”

The story flows smoothly, and the characters step right off the page, yet one thing about the writing is a bit cumbersome. The habit of almost never using the word “had”, and instead saying “…she’d her feet to attend to…” or  “…If she’d to smooth over a few ruffled feathers…” throughout the book was bothersome. At first, it caused me to stumble over passages, and to have to re-read them. Later, I simply found it annoying, especially in the voice of the narrator who should have better communication skills.

I read Machine Sickness at the request of the author, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a wonderful story that could use a better editor or proofreader. If you like a good suspense novel, you will enjoy it. If you like a good science-related suspense novel, you will love it. I know I can’t wait to read the next two books in this series. 

What Makes This Reviewer Grumpy?

  • Consistently used “further” instead of “farther” – in American English they are not interchangeable;
  • verb tense disagreement: “All he could do is…”;
  • missing commas;
  • >using the former name “Andrews Air Force Base” – since 2009 it has been “Joint Base Andrews”;
  • improper verb usage: “showed” in place of “shown”, and “sewed” in place of “sewn”, “come” in place of “go”, “bringing” in place of “taking”;
  • beginning sentences with conjunctions.


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