Set in the near future. Dr. John Long's future seems secure. He is living the American dream. He has a successful internal medicine practice in Orlando, Florida. He is well known in the area, like by his office and ER staff, has a good place to call home, and has just claimed Cassandra Shelly by the slipping of an engagement ring onto her finger. But then everything changes. The world is suddenly in a biological crisis of a singular nature. Genetically manufactured creatures, named airwars, are attacking at random. They resemble massive Man O'Wars, often larger than a football field. Each airwar has colonies of hanging tentacles and each tentacle contains multiple poisonous nematocysts that paralyze anything brushing against them. (Much like a jellyfish.) An airwar can use its tentacles to enter homes and pull out any humans dwelling within. Bullets will kill an airwar, but causes thousands of juvenile airwars to be released into the sky. (Kill one and thousands are made.)
The United nations formed an emergency council to disseminate world policy to all governments. The Airwar Scientific Council "ASC" is almost immediately created. (Later renamed Airwar Security Council.) The ASC is run by a bunch of scientists, politicians, and military. In a very brief amount of time, all world governments cede ASC absolute authority regarding laws on airwars, and by extension, those laws affect all facets of peoples' lives. The ASC must approve all mention of airwars in the media and take control of everything but the Internet. Violaters are deemed to be terrorists. Anyone voicing complaints are deemed to be "whiners". Both are dealt with harshly. Global gun confiscation begins. If an airwar wraps its tentacle around someone, even if it is your child, you are not allowed to attack it. The human is to be sacrificed so thousands more airwars are not created.
Of course, not everyone hands over their weapons. Militia groups spring up throughout the globe. With every airwar they kill, thousands more are made.
John's life comes to a halt when airwars attack Cassandra's area. And it shatters when John views his fiancé's body in the morgue. Consumed with grief and the burning desire for revenge, John ends up confronting, and surprisingly defeating, an airwar without any juveniles being released. The event is caught on camera, earning him lots of fame for being one of the rare individuals who are immune to the airwars' stings. It also earns him a one-way trip to one of the government's processing plants, where "Immunes" are tortured and skinned alive in order to extract proteins from their glands. John is lucky. Just before he is to unwillingly shed his skin, John, and all surviving Immunes, are pardoned.
Navy Admiral J.P. Beckwourth, with ASC approval, is forming the World Immune Corps. He wants John, as the one who discovered how to kill an airwar without juveniles being released, to lead the first group. The team is called First Immune Attack Force. John teaches and leads ten immune people to protect humanity. There is no feasible way they can actually save the human race, but the ASC claims that their scientists have found a way. But the ASC needs time to finish whatever they are working on.
The press has given John the sobriquet "The Immune". As a talented public relations guy, Beckwourth plans to use this to the team's advantage. Beckwourth convinces The Immune and his team that the world needs heros, to see something actually being done against the airwars threat. Once humanity has hope, riots and militia attacks would cease and stability could be maintained. It would also fulfill John's urge to kill the creatures that had taken Cassandra from him. But exactly what is the ASC working on and why is the knowledge being kept from the public? As John slowly begins to figure out how the ASC intends to end the crisis, he realizes the true meaning of fear.
***** FIVE STARS! Winston Churchill is quoted as having said, "In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." In this story, those bodyguards are referred to as "FS Maneuvers". Fortitude South was the greatest covert disinformation operation of World War II. It allowed the Allies to pull off D-Day. Simply put, deceptions/lies are used to distract people from noticing an underlying agenda. The author, Meisenheimer, seems to thoroughly understand the maneuver. It shows up often in his story.
Long ago someone told me that in order to pen a realistic story you must write about something you know. Dr. Meisenheimer has done this in spades. Want some examples? The main character and the author both have medical backgrounds, their practices are in the same area, they are avid swimmers, and they even share the name of John. (Those are off the top of my head.) But unlike the main character, Doc Lucky's background is riddled with a wide variety of interests and they commingle to help develop the rest of the story.
"The Immune" takes a biological crisis and expands the problem to include military strategy, survivalism, political science, corruption in the government, human psychology, and, since the airwar is a genetically manufactured creature, experimental mutations. Though this is categorized as science fiction, who can honestly state that such a destructive creature will not someday be produced, if it has not already?
This story did not fully hook my interest until the second chapter; however, subtle symptoms of the airwar threat appear by the second page. As you read, take nothing for granted. The main and secondary characters are well developed. The story line flows smoothly, with little or no choppiness. The plot and strategies are explained in laymen terms. My only real concern with this book is the front cover. With apologizes to the artist, the cover art is not eye catching. I am sure that the artwork looks great on paper or canvas, but as a front cover it comes across (to me) as too busy and the two people are not well drawn. Though everyone knows that a book should never be judged by its cover, the fact is that most buyers are drawn to a book because of an eye catching, attractive cover. I have no doubt that many will pass over this gem, but for those who read this review, I sincerely recommend purchasing "The Immune". It is a story that will engage your imagination and, more than likely, give many a few major concerns about today's government. Doc Lucky Meisenheimer is a multi-talented individual and I look forward to reading more of his stories in the future. *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.