Might be time to re-read this one, seems eerily apt (though thankfully this isn’t the plague). As far as I can remember, the city goes through five phases:
1) Confusion. Why is this happening? How will it affect us?
2) Irritation. Why do we have to change our lives because of this? Can it just end so that we can get back to business as usual?
3) Fear and understanding. It’s not just an inconvenience, we might actually get sick or know someone who gets sick and maybe even someone who dies. The economy might collapse.
4a) Some find unknown inner strength. Life has changed, but we are adaptable and can find new meaning in the chaos.
4b) Some lose all hope. Life has changed and will never be the same. Will this ever end?
5) Unexpected hope. The number of infected and dead are receding. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Though some will just glimpse the light before it’s their end.
The narrator is trying to give an objective portrayal of the events, which gives a chilling effect. The distanced storytelling and lack of an intimate knowledge of the citizens’ inner thoughts makes the reader feel somewhat isolated, just like the characters are. You are trapped in the city with the characters, but still alone with your thoughts and reactions to what’s happening.
A large part of the citizens of Norway, as well as citizens in other countries, have in a sense just been quarantined. Those with no symptoms or reasons to believe they are infected can still go to the store and go for a walk, but most work from home and many have no job to go to for a while. We are advised against socializing, and many normal functions in society have shut down. Borders are closing. We are likely going to feel quite isolated for a while, so let’s hope phase 5 is not too far off. In the meantime we will have a new normal, but luckily it will not be quite like the hell in this book.
A proper review will appear once I’ve re-read the novel.