Review: COMBUSTION by Steve Worland

“ThCombustione plan was, simply, to make people switch off their combustion engines. That’s why the Swarm was designed to turn a vehicle’s exhaust purple as soon as the engine was infected, then black before it exploded. It was a warning, so people understood that if they didn’t turn off their engines they would die. Of course, for the warning to be effective, some people needed to die early in the process.”

A nanotech virus, dubbed the Swarm, is released over the densely populated LA. It infects gasoline causing vehicle to explode and can survive in smog for years. The worldwide ramifications of this virus are extreme. Recent heroes (of previous installment VELOCITY) Judd Bell and Corey Purchase just happen to be in the city of angels when hell hits earth, and leap into action in an effort contain the spread and get the counteragent to the authorities before it’s too late.

The protagonists in Corey and Judd are not cast from the traditional mould. Judd’s an astronaut, Corey, a light helicopter pilot – yet I couldn’t imagine a different combination of heroes for these books.

Hindering their progress is a deadly duo with delusions of changing the world by force; Kilroy – a hired muscle of sorts, and Bunsen, the brains of the operation.

Bunsen’s warped rational leads to inducing mass hysteria and death; effectively creating a hell on earth as LA and its inhabitants burn for the sake of kick starting the widespread and prolonged use of clean renewable energy to down scale greenhouse gas omissions is as scary as it is believable.

Worlands fiction is a fast addiction. His thrillers read like big budget Hollywood blockbusters. In VELOCITY we saw the theft of a space shuttle, in COMBUSTION it’s a major US city set alight. The ambitious and all consuming scale of these stories can’t be underestimated. Despite the seemingly far reaching plots, Worland manages to create a distinct sense of plausibility further embedding the readers imagery into this dangerous landscape where the innocuous could be the catalyst for large scale devastation.

Like VELOCITY, COMBUSTION is a fast paced thriller which pulls no punches. It has a couple of great lead characters, intriguing antagonists with reasons to support their actions, and a nice ensemble cast to complement Judd and Corey. I cant wait to see what’s next from Steve Worland.


– This review of COMBUSTION also appeard on Just A Guy That Likes To Read

– Read my review of VELOCITY

– Visit Steve’s website

– Author interview