Terrance Mathison, a veteran turned bioengineer, returns from a camping trip to find that a widespread pathogen is quickly rusting important metals once they’re touched. Amid the crumbling downfall of our technological society, he assembles a team of super-nerds and elite soldiers to find and secure a lab in hopes of developing a cure. As cities collapse and food supplies dwindle, Mathison and his team navigate an increasingly savage world. He has to decide what lengths he will go to for a cure.
What the book’s synopsis doesn’t tell you is that the pathogen was created from a bacterial strain capable of metabolizing metal. Steel, iron, aluminum—doesn’t matter, everything that builds our world and sustains most of our processes had some form of affected metal in it. Can you imagine what would happen if we were suddenly stripped of all that?
Metal does a good job from the outset of describing the potential aftermath. Buildings collapse, most electronics are useless, every major form of transportation is dead, surgical pins corrode… Seriously, this was bad news for humanity, and an incredibly creative take on an apocalyptic scenario.
And with the collapse of society, the worst of humanity comes out to play. In their search to find/create a cure, there is plenty of danger. The main character is injured multiple times throughout the book, and I appreciated the realism employed with some of those injuries, particularly the concussions. He survives some situations through sheer luck alone (which becomes a point of humor as the story progresses.)
Despite his wounds, he never gives up. Neither do the people he finds himself with, but they are all forced to make some tough decisions. “The mission is all,” was a common mantra.
This book has Michael Crichton/Blake Crouch vibes, so if you’re a fan of their work, I encourage you to check out Metal. It’s well worth the read.