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The Noise


The Noise

Whenever you put two brilliant minds together like those of perennial bestselling author James Patterson and one of the boldest new voices in thriller fiction, J. D. Barker, you just know sparks are going to fly. They are clearly comfortable sharing the load with their latest effort, THE NOISE, as they had a big hit with their first collaboration, THE COAST-TO-COAST MURDERS.

Our world was forever changed by the still-burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic, and it has impacted our sensibilities and personal thresholds. So when you get a novel that hints at a potential world-changing event like the one we have in THE NOISE, it is amazing how quickly our minds accept what once might have been viewed as a far-fetched plot and now can be seen as something that legitimately could happen in our lifetime.

"Patterson and Barker are able to keep the plot moving at a rapid pace while never going over the top or campy with the potential extinction-level event they have created."

Only two sisters, 16-year-old Tennant and eight-year-old Sophie, are left from a community of survivalists living somewhere in the woods on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. But nothing they have done or seen up to this point in their young lives would have prepared them for the genocidal horror that claimed nearly a thousand people from their community and left only them alive. Sophie is the more sensitive of the two and can still hear the noise and the screaming that is at an almost deafening level for her.

To battle the mysterious and invisible enemy that claimed all these lives requires a team of special individuals. This group is brought together quickly and violently by our government, and the eight who are chosen are flown by military helicopters to an unknown location not far from where the mass-extermination event took place. A key member of this team is Dr. Martha Chan, and many of the book’s chapters are told through her point of view. Readers get to experience what she experiences as she goes from being a frightened outsider to a horrified insider determined to conquer this unknown menace.

Martha is joined by astrophysicist Russel Fravel; Brenna Hauff, an expert in planetary biology; British climatologist Sanford Harbin; agriculturalist Joy Reiber; and Brian Tomes, a geologist from NASA. I immediately thought of the late Michael Crichton’s THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, in which various global experts were called upon to save the world from an unexplainable threat. From the choppers, the damaged area looks like it has been hit by a tornado, but this group knows they have not been assembled to investigate a tornado strike.

Once the culprit turns out to be a noise-related enemy, it leads the experts to point blame in the expected directions --- the Russian and Chinese governments. It is surmised that nearly all electronic devices in the world contain some items created in China. What if there had been a plot to have these gadgets turn on us with a killer auditory wave? These paranoid fears are never proven, but they are enough to give any rational person nightmares.

One significant finding is that those affected by the noise begin to exhibit abnormally high body temperatures to the point where they are practically cooking from the inside out. The question becomes: How can you outrun sound? As the team races against the clock for a solution, the President of the United States, aboard Air Force One, is being encouraged to unleash a nuclear strike on the area in Oregon that has now grown an undetermined amount of “infected” who are burning up from the deadly noise and may be highly contagious. This would cost over a million lives, but the problem may be squashed by this powerful response.

THE NOISE is the perfect thriller for modern times and an ideal summer page-turner. Patterson and Barker are able to keep the plot moving at a rapid pace while never going over the top or campy with the potential extinction-level event they have created.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on August 20, 2021

The Noise
by James Patterson and J. D. Barker