Book Review: Dead on Arrival by Matt Richtell

March 21, 2018 Book Reviews 4

Book Review: Dead on Arrival by Matt RichtellDead on Arrival by Matt Richtel
Published by William Morrow on August 1st 2017
Pages: 368
Source: Purchase
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

A mysterious disorder threatens to destroy the world in this high-concept thriller from Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times reporter Matt Richtel, which combines medical science, cutting-edge technology, and breathtaking suspense in the vein of Michael Crichton.

An airplane lands at a desolate airport in a remote Colorado ski town. On board, Dr. Lyle Martin, a world-class infectious disease specialist, is brusquely awakened to shocking news: everyone not on the plane appears to be dead. A lethal new kind of virus may have surfaced, threatening our survival, and now Martin—one of the most sought after virologists on the planet until his career took a precipitous slide—is at the center of the investigation.

The symptoms are the most confounding the experienced doctor has ever seen. Is it the work of terrorists? A biological attack? A natural occurrence? As word of the deadly sickness spreads, panic leads to violence and chaos. Armed and terrified partisans and patriots, stoked by technology and social media, have dug in, unknowingly creating fertile ground for the deadly syndrome Dr. Martin has begun to identify.

As the globe begins to unravel and paranoia and hatred take hold, Martin is forced to face a question as terrifying as this syndrome itself: is the world better left unsaved?

Moving at a breakneck pace from the labs of the Centers for Disease Control to the secret campus of Google X to the marble halls of the Capitol, Dead on Arrival is a brilliantly imaginative, high-concept thriller that draws on Matt Richtel's years of science and technology reporting for the New York Times, and establishes him as one of the premier technological thriller writers working today.


I randomly picked up this book at the book store. I knew I was in the mood for some horror, and just look at that cover! All that blood! I quickly glanced over the cover and what was on it but what got me was:

Michael Crichton meets Stephen King, at their finest – Lisa Gardner

I haven’t read Lisa Gardner, and total confession, I had no idea who she was, but I love this quote. I did do my homework and looked her up for this review, and it looks like she writes thrillers! I’ll have to delve into some of her stuff now!

She was right though. This was a great thriller. First, I have to say, this is going to be a short review because there are MASSIVE spoilers and you need to read this without knowing ANYTHING.

No spoilers!

Don’t read reviews, just in case! Seriously. There is a massive twist (if I can call it a twist, it’s that weird) right in the middle, and if anyone says anything about that, it will be spoiled for you. Nobody wants that.

But, what I will say is that I read this in one sitting. Well, between getting up and down for my dogs. Constantly. They are like children that way. But, I was able to read this on my day off, snuggled under my dogs and a blanket!

It starts off exactly at the synopsis. These people land and there is no movement at the airport. Even for a red eye, in the middle of nowhere, that seems a bit odd! They start deliberating, what should they do, what is it, etc? They cannot call anyone because all they get is static. Issue after issue after issue.


What I can say is that I loved the characterization! Dr. Lyle Martin is my favorite character because he stands out for so many reasons. He’s intelligent but the man has some issues. Still, he wants to figure out what is wrong, while also warring with himself to just get away from people. There are so many layers to him, his personality, and his thinking, that I just loved every minute with him.

There are other characters that stand out, but again, I can’t say much. I just loved how the main characters felt tangible. 3-D.

Back and forth storytelling

Reading about someone’s past doesn’t always work well for me. Take Dr. Lyle Martin for instance. He’s trying to figure out what is happening without bringing attention to the fact that he is craving alcohol. Not quite alcoholic, but damn close. When the plot first went into his backstory, I debated just skipping it. I didn’t care but I thought that the author put the work in, so I would at least give it a try. I loved every word.

The plot creates a puzzle that the reader is going to try to unravel, along with the characters. Each bit of background information gives, maybe not a full puzzle piece but bits and pieces of those pieces until you can fit another full piece into the puzzle. It works. It doesn’t always, but I liked it here.

In short:

This is different from what I was imagining, but maybe better… I do have quite a few questions but would not be able to go into those questions or start that dialogue without fully spoiling the story. Which is obviously not my goal. I enjoyed the story enough to recommend. It’s interesting but I wouldn’t say horrific. Stephen King (ish) and that’s good enough for me.

Do you enjoy books that give a lot of background for the characters or would you just prefer to read about the main storyline?


Rating Report
4 / 5
Character Development
4.5 / 5
Writing Style
4.5 / 5
Personal enjoyment
5 / 5
5 / 5
Overall: 4.6 / 5









One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

4 Responses to “Book Review: Dead on Arrival by Matt Richtell”

  1. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    I like character driven books and think that’s one of the reason King books work so well for me. I’m gonna make a point to grab this one for my Kindle soon! You’ve sold me. I need to know more about that twist!

    • Christina

      I was very impressed. The characters are amazing, and although there are a few, they are easy to distinguish in so many ways. Really fun read!

    • Christina

      If that’s the only thing holding you back from getting this, or at least putting it onto your TBR, I promise it’s a smaller part of the story than it seems. It’s another portion of his character that he is working on, but being who he is, a scientist, he is able to recognize and even set away his addiction. Obviously I would not consider it an addiction if you can say no to something, but again, it’s something he realizes he has to work on. If it’s a trigger, it’s enough of his characterization that you may want to skip it altogether. Hope that helps!

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