Reading through the first few parts of the book. I definitely found it interesting and got a liking for it as I kept on reading along and couldn’t stop there. The book itself opens with a weird setting for myself as I had to read carefully to understand what was really going on. We are introduced to the book with a theater scene re-enacting what is some sort of British play. The main character of the play goes by the name of King Lear and is played by Arthur Leander who later in this part we will sadly read into the tragedy of his death. Many were in distress after the event of his death, no one could understand at first what had happened and you could say there was a kind of panic for what was happening. The story further goes into a pandemic known as the “Georgia Flu” which would end up starting to cause panic and terror upon this city.
One thing I very much picked up on that I think would put itself in a significant place of the story would be the writing in of the snow that is used in the play. In the first part of the book, we read the following lines “Snow began to fall over the stage.” (Mandel 3), “The snow was falling fast around them, shimmering in the blue-white light.”(Mandel 4), “The plastic snow was still falling.” (Mandel 4) and final quote which was expressed by one of the characters themselves, Jeevan, “For god’s sake… can no one stop the goddamn snow?” (Mandel 6). From this, we can gather a few things from this, the snow was first mostly brought up in a time of distress where one of the lead actors on stage was started to suffer what is like a heart attack thus leading to death. We know that one of the assumed main characters of the story Jeevan was not very fond of the snow itself in time like this. Not only was the snow expressed throughout the story multiple times in the play it’s also snowing outside in the real world as we learn reading ahead in the book. Perhaps this could foreshadow some kind of storm or event that could change things very differently for the characters in the book. Generally, when I would read or watch other pieces of work in science fiction, when there is sometimes snow it can generally mean that something bad can follow along with it as a theme, to say the least. Even though snow is usually referenced as a refresher for the goodness of the world, that’s not always the case as shown in these types of work of fiction. Of course, this is my thought and understanding of any of this in the story and I may possibly be entirely wrong.
But upon further reading, we are introduced into the “Georgia Flu”, a disease that could cause severe sickness and kill someone within hours of catching it. This was not good, this was something that could spread really fast as it was described in the story and highlighted in the quote by Hui “We’ve admitted over two hundred flu patients since this morning… A hundred and sixty in the past three hours. Fifty of them have died…” (Mandel 18) What this shows is that within 24 hours, hundreds of people were infected, and possibly a lot more that are unknown and out there in the city. The city itself was evolving into an epidemic possibly into a pandemic across an entire country but that’s for us to learn further into the story.
The opening of the book in itself brings for a really interesting introduction for what we would class as mass chaos. What starts out as something peaceful in this case a theater play turns into the grounds for the death of one of the actor. Later on the city for which holds this such ground will have eventually turned into a graveyard for hundreds more within hours after the death of the actor. It’s something that for which I’ve read is unique and has caught my eye to keep on reading. I’m more interested in seeing how this epidemic turns out to the future of this city.