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All booksSci-fiThe End of October
The End of October by Lawrence Wright

The End of October

by Lawrence Wright

Quick take

The world scrambles to stop the spread of a deadly new outbreak in this medical thriller that feels eerily relevant.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

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Why I love it

Jordan Moblo

I’m a huge science fiction nerd, and growing up, my first foray into the genre was through the works of Michael Crichton. I loved how books like Jurassic Park posed the question, “What would happen if people abused the laws of science and nature?” ... and then let said abused science and nature run roughshod all over humanity. Which is why I was immediately drawn to The End of October, a frighteningly prescient look at how the world would react in the event of a global pandemic.

When 47 people are pronounced dead at an Indonesian internment camp, epidemiologist Henry Parsons is sent in to investigate what happened. What he discovers is an unstoppable deadly new virus that threatens humanity. As Henry races against the clock to uncover answers and find a cure, back home in America his family is forced to deal with the fallout from the pandemic: social distancing, a collapsing economy, rampant fake news, inundated hospitals, and food droughts.

Sound familiar?

It’s hard not to compare The End of October to current news and events, and it’s unnerving to read just how “right” author Lawrence Wright got it. But that only makes the book that much more of a propulsive page-turner. Often we turn to sci-fi as a way of escaping the real world, but this might be one of the few instances where readers find sci-fi more relatable than fiction. And while The End of October may be topical and terrifying, by its conclusion, it offers a glimmer of hope for us in these uncertain times.

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At an internment camp in Indonesia, forty-seven people are pronounced dead with acute hemorrhagic fever. When Henry Parsons—microbiologist, epidemiologist—travels there on behalf of the World Health Organization to investigate, what he finds will soon have staggering repercussions across the globe: an infected man is on his way to join the millions of worshippers in the annual Hajj to Mecca. Now, Henry joins forces with a Saudi prince and doctor in an attempt to quarantine the entire host of pilgrims in the holy city... A Russian émigré, a woman who has risen to deputy director of U.S. Homeland Security, scrambles to mount a response to what may be an act of biowarfare... already-fraying global relations begin to snap, one by one, in the face of a pandemic... Henry's wife Jill and their children face diminishing odds of survival in Atlanta... and the disease slashes across the United States, dismantling institutions—scientific, religious, governmental—and decimating the population. As packed with suspense as it is with the fascinating history of viral diseases, Lawrence Wright has given us a full-tilt, electrifying, one-of-a-kind thriller.

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Member thoughts

All (1580)
All (1580)
Love (644)
Like (772)
Dislike (164)
1629 ratings
  • 40% Love
  • 47% Like
  • 10% Dislike
  • Brooklyn, NY

    Excellent! Wright’s depth of research is obvious. I found the technical detail fascinating. Its incredible how accurate he got this! A year ago, I would have said “no way” to so much of this. No more.

  • Belton, SC

    This was the perfect read for the time we’re living in. An unknown plague spreading throughout the world and conspiracies to follow. As a nurse in this pandemic i loved this medical “not-so” fantasy.

  • West Chester, PA

    As a former microbiologist, liked the pandemic history mentioned throughout. A lot of this book’s events relate to today’s situation. Pandemic in this story is worse than covid though. Gripping story!

  • Lathrop, CA

    This was a read where the word “unsettling” came to mind a good deal more than your average thriller -much of this can be contributed to the masterfully constructed story with harrowing narrative arcs

  • Longview, TX

    Horrifying. I loved it! Includes a suspicious amount of accurate projections about how the United States would bungle a pandemic. A great mixture of Michael Crichton/Richard Preston’s writing styles.

  • Baton Rouge, LA

    This book is eerily akin to the current pandemic with an added touch of politics. There are some random characters without depth that just add fluff, but it’s well written and thoroughly researched.

  • Riverview, FL

    By far one of the best books of 2020. It is deeply researched, provides a realistic vision of a world that is ravaged by an unknown disease that leaves the world devastated and civilization decimated.

  • Schertz, TX

    I was blown away by how the author eerily portrays a world fighting a pandemic that closely mirrors our own with COVID-19. For many, it may be too soon for such a read but the storytelling is riveting

  • Rockaway, NJ

    I read this right after the first Covid wave in the northeast (probably not the best idea) and it was quite triggering. I had a hard time with it initially, but the writing pulled me back in. Loved it

  • Collegeville, PA

    This was a good book to read in 2020 because, well, it's about a global pandemic. The book felt relevant and factual but also fictional. The character development was excellent and kept me engaged.

  • New Prague, MN

    This is not my typical genre. Especially during a pandemic but this book was so amazing! He definitely knew the way people would respond to a health crisis because we did! Exactly the same. Worth it!

  • Virginia Beach, VA

    It's difficult not taking this book as fact as it reflects much of what is currently going on. Because of this, it was hard to pick up at times. I give the book a 4/5 due to the ending feeling rushed.


    This is a great read. Very thought provoking considering the times we are currently living in. The author really did some background on pandemics and epidemiology. That is rare and greatly appreciate.

  • Ankeny, IA

    This might just be my new favorite book. FANTASTIC. I work in a hospital and many medical thrillers frustrate me bc of inaccuracy, but this one is so believable it terrified me. Realistic & horrifying

  • New Britain, CT

    Wow! What an eerily relevant book. I was intrigued from the beginning. Different points of view as well as both political and personal on a global pandemic. Devastating, heartbreaking, and shocking.

  • Norristown , PA

    This book I do not have words for. Just indescribably amazing. So real and so raw. I learned so much about microbiology and religion which was a welcome surprise! I give this book a 100 out of 10!

  • Gainesville, FL

    Oh my goodness, this book is amazing! I love the switching point of views and the main character is very relatable. The scientific lingo is not hard to understand but makes it so much more realistic.

  • Richmond, VA

    Quite relatable to the 2020 covid pandemic, except for the destruction of America's infrastructure. Makes you wonder what type of infectious diseases world gov'ts are conjuring up this very moment.

  • Phoenix, AZ

    The characters were well written and the action never stopped. There were times I wondered why the author was putting things into the story and then he would come back around to deliver the reason.

  • Durham, NC

    Very timely and absolutely heartbreaking. Read like non-fiction but easy to read because of the focus on the perspectives of the people. As a virologist, I was impressed by the scientific accuracy!

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