Author: David Koepp
Originally Published in 2019
Review by Miriam Atkinson
In 1987 Roberto and Trini are alerted to the presence of a deadly fungus in rural Australia. They manage to contain the threat but not before it claims the lives of twenty-seven people. A single sample of the fungus is collected and placed in deep storage for thirty years where it is all but forgotten about. That is until the containment vessel starts to break down. With the top secret base now a regular storage facility, a now-retired Roberto must rely on the facilities two young guards – Teacake and Naomi – to help him stop a world ending emergency.
The first thing I noticed about the story was David Koepp’s engaging writing style. The novel is very descriptive but, even when the story switches to a backstory section, Koepp always takes care of his readers and makes sure to carefully anchor them back into the present day. These easy transitions between past and present made learning about the characters a fun experience – rather than being left wondering when the main story was going to start again.
My favourite characters in Cold Storage are Teacake and Naomi. Stories that focus on world ending threats typically focus on military figures and scientists. While we do get this in the form of Roberto, I love that Koepp chose to include two ordinary people with no hidden skills or connection to our scientist protagonist. Teacake and Naomi are just two ordinary people who, despite being scared, are trying to do their best in a crazy situation.
In a practical sense, I think a lot of readers can relate to Teacake and Naomi. How many of us have taken a minimal wage job purely because we need any amount of income? How many times have we wished something exciting would happen? Or been faced with a situation and thought: ‘I’m not paid enough to deal with this’? Fair enough the fate of the world isn’t typically at stake but it was fun and refreshing to see how ordinary yet very inquisitive people might react in an extreme situation.
The inclusion of Roberto is a clever way to link the past and present sections of the novel together. In 1987 we see Roberto at the height of both his career and physical fitness. In the present we see a retired Roberto realising that he now needs to rely on others to help him. Roberto’s point of view chapters also give the reader a look into the official side of the crisis. This amped up the tension in Teacake/Naomi’s chapters as the reader knows (but the characters don’t) the chess moves being made behind the scenes.
I really enjoyed Cold Storage. A science fiction story that falls under the contagion-apocalypse sub-genre, Cold Storage felt very real and grounded and I could easily image this story taking place (as scary as that thought is). All of the characters, whether protagonist or antagonist, were engaging and all had a part to play in the story. I also appreciated the natural flow and progression of the plot. Each moment informs the last and all the different plot threads culminate together with all roads leading to the storage facility. The novel was a great read and I’d recommend to those wanting to try something different from the sci-fi genre.
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