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For rentboy Nico Fernández, it’s a simple job: seduce a presidential advisor to help cement approval to launch Project Juggernaut. He’s done similar work for General Logan McClosky before, and manipulating people for his favorite client beats the hell out of being trafficked for slave wages in some corporate brothel.
Zach Houtman feels called to work with the most vulnerable outcasts of society. But his father, the Reverend Maurice Houtman, insists that Zach work for him instead as he runs for Senate. Zach reluctantly agrees, but is horrified to see his father leave behind Christ’s mandate of love and mercy to preach malicious zealotry and violence instead. Zach even starts to suspect his father is working with fundamentalist terrorists.
When Project Juggernaut accidentally unleashes a deadly plague that claims billions of lives, Nico and Zach are thrown together, each bearing a burden of guilt. With only each other for safety and solace, they must make their way through a new world, one where the handful of people left alive are willing to do anything—and kill anyone—to survive.
Juggernaut is a prequel to Ms. Gromley’s book Strain, which I absolutely loved. When I’d heard that there would be a prequel, a story telling the tale of how the world fell, I knew I’d be on board that ride. While I didn’t love this as much as I did Strain, I did like this a lot. Each book, Strain and Juggernaut, can be read as stand alone novels, but what is apparent, is that you’ll need to have read them both before reading the third book that will come out in September. How do I know this? Ms. Gromley has set it up perfectly.
Juggernaut tells a story of where the virus that decimated the human population came from. We find out the reasons for the virus, it’s origins and purpose, how it got out of control, and the trials that initial survivors had to go through. We meet Nico and Zach, two unlikely allies in a world that’s gone to shit. While there is a romance between our MCs, this book is hardly romantic. It is strikingly predictable of what I believe we’d go through if something this bad happened in the world. When I think about it, it’s terrifying. Sadly, it feels really realistic.
Nico and Zach’s relationship took a while to grow on me, but the story of survival and the interactions between both of them, the other survivors, and the Jugs was compelling. Zach’s faith, mixed with Nico’s lack thereof, was an interesting mix to the story and really nicely done. The respect each of them has towards the other was honest. They trusted each other implicitly and worked really well together. Also interesting is the look we get into Reverend Maurice Houtman, and Jacob, during the time before the pandemic, making me want to go back and re-read Strain again to see how much they did and did not change. The story never strayed from the main focus, gripping me and leaving me wanting more. By the end of the story I was ready to dig into the next book, Bane. Why, exactly, do I have to wait?
Juggernaut sets the stage for the next book, where it is my hope, that those responsible will really get what’s coming to them.