Dahlia Black by Keith Thomas

In 2028, a pulse from outer space is detected by physicist Dahlia Black. An advanced government antenna is aimed up at the stars and receives a radio signal. At first, the small cadre of scientists who are in-the-know don’t know what to make of it; all they know is that the message is way beyond anything a human mind could formulate. Slowly, there are other factors that come into play. People who come in contact with the pulse are starting to change: The Elevation. An altering of the human DNA. Most people survive this process, but some do not… At the end, 1/3 of the human population disappears. Transformed by the alien beings into something greater, a drastic, shocking, and rapid evolution, and then taken away.

This oral history marks the 5th anniversary of The Pulse. Told through the newly found diary of Black, formal and informal interviews with scientists and other leaders, and research into the events by “journalist,” Keith Thomas, this book can obviously be compared to other stories told in this style like World War Z. And because of the success of that book and like anytime I read a book in a unique style, I kept thinking if it worked here. The answer is sort of. Two things drove the tension for me: The development of Dahlia’s character (I’ll get to more of this later), and the politics surrounding the official response to the crisis. But I’m not sure if the storytelling technique had anything to do what that.

Dahlia is a memorable character. She’s driven, intelligent, and accomplished. Yet, he boss doesn’t agree that her dark matter research will pan out and cancels her experiments. A past injury finds her addicted to opioids and the office rumors suspect that she may have been high when she discovered the pulse. Dahlia isn’t trusted and loses control of the information that she knows will affect the world. At the same time, her ability to interact with the world around her is changing..

When Dahlia trusts the cache of information in the hands of others, it is the egos and the suspected paranoia that drives many of the decision-makers. When and how will the president hear about The Pulse? What will the affect be on the people?

I enjoyed this book to an extent. It seemed a little top-down in its telling. Essentially, the story is wanting of some different points of view at times. As much as Dahlia’s character is fantastic, the others, especially the scientists, melt into each other. My problem with this review is that I don’t want to give up to much of the plot to explain my issues… I just didn’t feel like the end payoff holds up too well, especially after knowing the “ending” of the the plot.

Read this one for a good dystopian, alien-attack aftermath oral history. It may be a bit uneven, but the protagonist is savvy and realistic.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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