Rating: 5 stars out of 5
For rentboy Nico Fernández, it’s a simple job: seduce a presidential advisor to help cement approval to launch Project Juggernaut. He’s done similar work for General Logan McClosky before, and manipulating people for his favorite client beats the hell out of being trafficked for slave wages in some corporate brothel.
Zach Houtman feels called to work with the most vulnerable outcasts of society. But his father, the Reverend Maurice Houtman, insists that Zach work for him instead as he runs for Senate. Zach reluctantly agrees, but is horrified to see his father leave behind Christ’s mandate of love and mercy to preach malicious zealotry and violence instead. Zach even starts to suspect his father is working with fundamentalist terrorists.
When Project Juggernaut accidentally unleashes a deadly plague that claims billions of lives, Nico and Zach are thrown together, each bearing a burden of guilt. With only each other for safety and solace, they must make their way through a new world, one where the handful of people left alive are willing to do anything—and kill anyone—to survive.
It’s no secret that I have a thing for dark, creepy and apocalyptic books. Juggernaut promised all that and more. And I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed in the least. In fact, I absolutely loved this book. It was brilliant.
I liked Nico from the start. He’s not the kind of poor, helpless rentboy in desperate need of a saviour we usually see in this genre. He’s in the business out of his own free will and he knows how to defend himself when the need arises.
At first, I was a bit concerned about whether I’d like Zach. I’m an atheist and I tend to dislike very religious characters in my books. I just find it very hard to relate to somebody whose main purpose in life seems to be in their faith. But Zach was a pleasant surprise. While his faith is very important to him, it’s not his defining character trait. He never judges people based on their faith or lack thereof. He never tries to play missionary. He just quietly tries to help in whichever way he can. If somebody finds solace in praying together, he’s happy to do so. If somebody doesn’t want to pray, then that’s fine too. I really liked his approach to religion.
Many m/m books that deal with religion in one way or another tend to portray it negatively: Bigots, zealots and generally unpleasant people. “Juggernaut” had both the negative example (Zach’s father is a real jerk) and positively (Zach’s approach is very tolerant). It was very interesting to see the conflict between Zach and his father and their different ideas of what being a good Christian means. It made for an interesting subplot.
The main plot focuses on survival. At times, it gets pretty violent and a bit gory. The tone is very dark. This is not a happy story, at all. The story is incredibly addicting and it was next to impossible to put the book down. There’s lots of action, but the romance is rather slow to unfold. Personally, I liked that. And it fit the circumstances. Zach led a very sheltered life so far and there’s just so much else going on in the lives of our MCs, there just isn’t all that much time for them to develop really romantic feelings for each other.
Nico is a Latino and he’s very conscious of what that means. So racism and inequality added another interesting layer to the plot.
The ending is rather open, but again, that just fit the whole story. I really want to know what happens next. In Nico’s and Zach’s lives and in the entire world.
Long story short, “Juggernaut” is utterly brilliant. If you like dark, apocalyptic stories with a bit of romance thrown in, then this book is a must.
I really like the cover. It’s delightfully dark and violent and fits the mood of the book perfectly.
Sales Link: Amazon
Kindle Edition, 2 edition, 320 pages
Published April 20th 2018 (first published August 8th 2015)
Original TitleJuggernaut, A Strain Novel
CharactersNico Fernández, Zach Houtman