This novel is about a man named John Roe O'Neill who loses his entire family in one day. O'Neill is a molecular biologist who has the knowledge and education to get back on those who killed his family, and those who he sees as responsible. His revenge, a plague that only seems to kill the females of the species. The question then becomes how does the world protect itself or save itself when there seems to be no cure, or any way to stop a plague that kills within a few days of one being infected. Of course, this is something they have to deal with after they come to the realization that the plague, and O'Neill's threats, are not a joke.
Overall, this was a pretty interesting book. My only issue with it was the length, as it was 467 pages and at least one third of those pages could have been condensed. I do know that a lot of Herbert's books are long and intense, so I guess I should have expected this to be long and full of information. There was a lot of talk between the male characters, which wasn't all necessary. Some of it could have been cut down as it only involved what the characters needed or wanted to do. There was too much dialogue and it really didn't get the characters anywhere.
I would have preferred a little less medical dialogue as well. It was a little overwhelming, which was strange as I have read several Michael Crichton and Robin Cook, who are both well-known medical authors. I think if Herbert had taken out some of the medical jargon, and had a little more fun with the story, it would have been a better book.
It does have some of the edge A Handmaid's Tale has, but it isn't as violent. One does wonder about the future, especially a future where there are only a handful of women left who feel the need to help bring more humans into the world. Procreation has become first and foremost, although in this case the women, at the moment seem to have the power. They get to choose who they have sex with, and who they procreate with. So, in this case they seem to have the ability to continue to control their own lives, for now. The ending of the novel leads one to believe that there are some sinister things that may go on behind the scenes or later, as things progress.
It was an interesting book. I thought the idea was more interesting than the actual book, only because there were times when the book was dull and excessive. It wasn't bad though, and I did enjoy the idea of it, and some of the characters were entertaining. Overall, if you are interested in disease progression try this out. It might be the science fiction, dystopian apocalypse you are looking for, even if it was written in 1982.