Reviewed by Katy Oâ€™Dowd
First things first â€“ ‘Aria: Left Luggage’ is a highly enjoyable book. A highly accessible sci-fi book. Something that you can read in bed before sleep without your head hurting and eyes crossing as you try to grasp some out there concept.
The premise is a clever one. In short, astronauts see a case in space. When the case is brought back to earth, it unleashes a virus. The amnesia bug, or Alien Retrograde Infectious Amnesia. Which spreads like wildfire, infecting everyone in its path, at an incredible rate. The bug causes everyone who catches it to regress, seemingly slowly at first, but soon it becomes apparent that years of lives are being lost memory-wise, and fast.
Enter our hero Ryder, who has been onto the thing from the start and has the brainpower â€“ and contacts â€“ to stay away and eventually find like-minded uninfected people to try to help him to stay alive and to come up with a solution to humanityâ€™s huge problem. And figure out just who is out to get them all and why.
Aria is written well and fairly flies along. And underneath the quips and action there is a deeper, underlying, not to mention more menacing aspect. Itâ€™s like the whole world getting Dementia or Alzheimerâ€™s all at one time. Smaller scenes of chaos, such as people forgetting where they live and becoming distressed about that, soon turn to scenes of much greater impact and magnitude where looting becomes widespread, bodies lie where they fall and anarchy reigns.
There is also something else thrown up â€“ how far would you be prepared to go to help your fellow man or woman? Morals are in question as Earthâ€™s infrastructure gets thrown out of kilter and slowly grinds to a halt.
Sad things are raised too, such as a young girl regressing into a baby and a zoo-keeper forgetting about a new monkey in his care and neglecting her. Thought-provoking stuff.
Throughout, Ryder tries his best, first of all persuading uninfected friends and colleagues to barricade themselves in a remote Welsh valley. But then as his leadership is tested time and again even his morals start to slip and the lines between what is right and wrong according to everything he was taught and believes in start to blur.
I see at the end of the book that here is another one in the series, which can only be a good thing as Aria was a great fun, romp of a read.