Monday, May 3, 2021

MG review of The Antidote by Susan McCormick

The Antidote by Susan McCormick
Format:  paperback
Publisher:  Wild Rose Press
Number of pages:  300
Publishing:  May 5th, 2021
Source:  Jennifer Vance via Books Forward

Opening Lines: "No one in this village is safe."

The Antidote begins in England in 1348 with the black plague and then moves to present day Seattle.  Twelve-year-old Alex Revelstoke has always thought of himself as a little different, but today, things really are more different than usual for him.  Sure he can sense people's illness, disease or injury, pretty much know what's wrong with someone else just by looking at them, but this is the first time that he's actually experienced someone's body just melting away to reveal what their ailment is to him.  Did he imagine it?  But how else can he explain knowing about the hotdog that Sam was choking on if he didn't see it lodged in Sam's windpipe?  At first, Alex tries to rationalize his new found ability as heightened senses, but  when it keeps happening to him over and over, and then he even starts to feel the person's ailments, he knows it's time to get some answers from his dad.  Alex's father and grandfather then explain the history of the Revelstoke's and how the family has been battling against an ancient evil for centuries, an evil being who has created diseases, plagues and infections and who has now set his sights on destroying the last Revelstoke, Alex.  

The first thing that caught my eye about The Antidote was that premise, a boy battles an ancient disease creating being.  It had this sort of good versus evil vibe going for it.  Plus as a bonus the author is a physician, who better than a doctor to give those hard core medicine and science facts?  And I couldn't help wondering how she was going to blend medicine with fantasy.  It just sounded like a book that was right up my alley.  Alex is an interesting character, he's conflicted about his abilities.  On the one hand he's really knowledgeable about medicine and science, probably because both of his parents are also doctors, but he's also concerned about his new found ability.  It would be kind of unsettling being able to diagnosis someone just by looking at them, or seeing them as if their body was a transparent manikin where all the skin is gone and you're seeing the blood vessels and bones inside.  At the same time it's pretty cool how he can quickly assess a medical problem and be able to react in time to save someone.  I liked how the story was so factually based, but didn't become bogged down in the details.  Alex seems like a pretty level headed kid, he took the news about his family history of fighting evil in stride.  It's not a fight that he really wanted to fight, but one that he's forced to fight in order to protect those around him.  I was actually surprised that I also enjoyed the evil being/man's story line in between Alex's.  He created many of the diseases across time and was especially adept at avoiding being detected for sometime.  Given the story involves diseases, and illnesses, I should caution that there are some tense moments where various people are put into life and death situations, i.e., one person has a heart attack and someone suffers an allergic reaction to name a few.  While they both are caught in time, it still could be a little scary for a younger reader.  Now if you're into medicine, science, infectious diseases or a STEM book that highlights the human body this certainly will capture your attention.  As an extra bonus there's a short description of all the infectious diseases listed in the story at the back of the book.   **A huge thank you to Jennifer Vance at Books Forward for the review copy**     


  1. This sounds like a really interesting story. It's really unique. Thanks for sharing it. Glad you liked it.

  2. Thank you for the review! I’m happy you liked the book. For interested teachers or home schoolers, there is an accompanying free curriculum guide on my website,

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  4. Well this book sounds fascinating to me. I am adding it to my list. So curious to see how it all turns out and what an interesting concept. Thanks for sharing! ~Jess