I finished this earlier today. It's a cool new take on the post-apocalyptic world scenerio, with humans destroying the world. And in true SF form, it's the cool way that we do it that draws you to the book. Essentially, in our attempt to cure cancer using nanotechnology, an "accident" releases a prototype of the nanotech . . . which subsequently destroys living tissue, not just cancer. Everyone would have died, except that the prototype had a built in failsafe, a circuit that self-destructs when it reaches 10,000 feet. Thus, the only survivors were those that could reach an elevation of 10,000 feet or higher.
Needless to say, there's not much land above 10,000 feet above sea level. I haven't spoilered anything in the novel, since the book begins after the outbreak, in fact, nearly a year afterwards. I thought the idea behind the book was spectacular and even if I hadn't run into the author at Norwescon, if I'd heard of the book, I'd have bought it. I have a thing for post-apocalyptic novels.
Overall, the book is good. I'd say great, except that it begins a little rough in the writing department. I kept reading because this was a first novel and I'm a little more forgiving and patient for first novels. And I'm happy to say that the book improved as it progressed. The writing got better and I became involved in the characters and their plight. Not all of the characters are nice. In fact, most of the characters are seriously flawed and are not your typical "good guys" and "bad guys," which is a good thing. The situation has made nearly everyone desperate and that desperation is what drives nearly all of the characters and their actions.
If you get this book, be prepared for some rather serious treatments of what such a world would be like. It isn't pretty. But I like this realism and appreciate that the author didn't back off of the desperation in the slightest. And I love the way the book ended, which is not what you'd expect either, even in a post-apocalyptic novel.
Final verdict? I'd recommend the book as long as the reader can take a little blood and gore. The concept rocks, and the story is good, but if you aren't ready for some realism then you might want to pass.
But I'll definitely be reading book 2.