Petroplague, a science-themed thriller novel by Amy Rogers

Educators: Let the real science in this page-turning thriller inspire your bio/microbio/chem students in grades 9-16. The new Petroplague Study Guide makes it easy to use the book in your classroom.

What if bacteria turned all the gasoline in Los Angeles into vinegar?
Carmageddon doesn’t begin to describe it.

Tech rating:


Christina González expected her research to change the world.
But not like this.

UCLA graduate student Christina Gonzalez wanted to use biotechnology to free America from its dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Instead, an act of eco-terrorism unleashes her genetically-modified bacteria into the fuel supply of Los Angeles, turning gasoline into vinegar.

With the city paralyzed and slipping toward anarchy, Christina must find a way to rein in the microscopic monster she created. But not everyone wants to cure the petroplague—and some will do whatever it takes to spread it.

From the La Brea Tar Pits to university laboratories to the wilds of the Angeles National Forest, Christina and her cousin River struggle against enemies seen and unseen to stop the infection before it’s too late.

Set in the mountain-ringed Los Angeles basin, this terrifyingly plausible science thriller about good intentions, unexpected consequences, Peak Oil, climate change, experimental biofuels, and the astonishing power of microorganisms will give you pause every time you fill up your car.

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Book trailer for Petroplague (above)

Buy PETROPLAGUE  anywhere in the world
(hardcover, trade paperback, or ebook)

Signed, discounted hardcovers and trade paperbacks available to U.S. customers direct from author.  Order via PayPal or contact the author (Amy at ScienceThrillersdotcom).

What critics are saying about Petroplague:

From Paul McEuen, author of international bestseller Spiral:  “Petroplague is a terrific thriller debut and Amy Rogers really knows her science. From a killer premise—scientists create a bacterium that stops the industrial world in its tracks—Petroplague ratchets up the tension and danger with every chapter. The tense, tight plot and interesting characters kept me reading late into the night wondering how Christina Gonzalez, the grad student at the center of it all, would stop the scourge that she unwittingly set loose.  Amy Rogers is one to watch—I can’t wait for her next book.”

From Norb Vonnegut, author of thrillers Gods of Greenwich and Top Producer:
“Amy Rogers is the crisp, haunting new voice of science thrillers. If you think global warming is scary, wait till you read Petroplague.”

From BookTrib reviewer Seeley James:
This is the best science-thriller I’ve read this year. Maybe ever. You might think a PhD-level science story would be short on thrills. You’d be wrong. You might think a book by a certifiable genius might be hard to read. You’d be wrong. You might think, this is gonna hurt my brain the way A Brief History of Time hurt my brain. You’d be wrong. Well, some of you. Every scientific concept in Petroplague is not only accessible, it’s crystal clear. Not like other science-thrillers where you just go along with it.”

From ThrillersRockTwitter:
Petroplague has earned a spot in the top five on my best of 2011 list.”

“The book is a great example of lab lit in what I think of as the Crichtonesque School of epic science disaster writing..Amy Rogers has done an excellent job of not only crafting an exciting and thrilling piece of lab lit fiction, but also of offering an education in the science behind the scenes.”

From We, Beasties @ ScienceBlogs:
The science is utterly believable…Rogers goes out of her way to actually talk about a scientist and the way science is done as more than just caricatures. If you’re into thrillers, and you like your science accurate, this {ebook} seems a steal.”

From PopcornReads:
“It’s wonderful to read a thriller like Petroplague whose author knows her subject backwards and forwards, and demonstrates it on every page. As someone who lives in the LA area, I always look for signs that someone doesn’t know this area or how it operates. Amy Rogers nails every aspect of LA, from neighborhoods to our isolation in the event of a disaster like this one…Amy Rogers also nails the science big time, and even provides technical notes at the end. On the surface, Petroplague looks like a disaster that could take mankind back to its pre-industrial stage; however, the consequences are much, much farther reaching than that. It’s a fun “what if” novel. Another one I couldn’t put down!”

From International Thriller Writer’s webzine The Big Thrill (September 2011, article written by literary agent & book coach Andrew Zack):
“Wow.  I’m almost out of breath just reading that.  Rogers, who studied biochemistry at Harvard and went on to get an MD/PhD at Washington University in St. Louis, knows her stuff and her book should appeal to fans of Michael Crichton and others who like science thrillers.  The science in the book is real and, according to Rogers, “You’d have to have a PhD to figure out where it veers into fiction.”

From review by writer Morgan Mussell:
“Think of all the seat gripping you do watching James Cameron movies like,  The Terminator and Titanic.  This is what Amy Rogers does; she throws the good guys into a tight situation and keeps cranking up the pressure…It’s always a pleasure to post here about a book I really enjoyed.  I couldn’t put this one down.

From amazon reviewer and author L.A. Starks:
Compellingly written, technically literate…What a pleasure to read a book by an author who knows her way around hydrocarbons–from the lightest C4 methane to the heaviest La Brea tar sands–and who also treats her readers to freshly-drawn characters like Christina the scientist, and her flightier cousin, River.  If you like books by Michael Crichton, technothrillers, books with female protagonists, or even just a good novel with real insight into the oil industry, read Petroplague.”

From review by author & editor Darrell Delamaide:
“Motor-driven LA is, of course, the perfect place to feature a gasoline-eating bug and the picture of a city paralyzed and quarantined by the disappearance of all petroleum products is captivating.”

ScienceThrillers REVIEW:

Petroplague, a debut novel by medical scientist Amy Rogers, presents a terrifying scenario that is all-too believable because it could really happen. In this story supported by plenty of Crichton-esque scientific detail, a Latina graduate student at UCLA modifies natural oil-eating bacteria to make them particularly good at breaking down petroleum into natural gas. Christina Gonzalez’s goal is worthy: to increase energy production from currently inaccessible underground tar sands. But a radical environmentalist sees her work as a threat and sabotages the field test. Before long, mysterious gas leaks, explosions, and car breakdowns begin to plague central Los Angeles, and Christina must confront the unintended consequences of research gone horribly wrong.

Before saying any more, I must confess that the author of Petroplague and the reviewer are the same person.  Yes, you are reading a review of a book written by the author of that book.  Objective?  Of course not.  But I think I can fairly convey to you what kind of book Petroplague is, and you can decide if it’s right for you.  (Click here to read the first chapters for free.)

Petroplague is a fast-moving thriller with some serious brains behind it.  Science, in particular microbiology, is central to the plot.  It’s a story about good intentions and unintended consequences, about loyalty and betrayal, about love and family.  Petroplague will have you cheering for Christina not only because you care about her, but because the situation she confronts is so frightening–and believable–that you can’t let yourself imagine it coming to pass in a fictional world, much less the real one.  Don’t be surprised if this book gets you thinking about investing in gold and stocking up on canned food.  Read Petroplague and you’ll realize that bacteria are about a lot more than making people sick.  Bacteria rule the world.

Unlike the other book review pages at ScienceThrillers, I’m leaving this one open to comments.  Please share what you think about Petroplague, and if you enjoyed it, please post a review on amazon or tell your friends.  To view the Petroplague trailer,click here  To subscribe to my quarterly newsletter, click here. Vist for more information.

Keywords: petroleum; oil-eating bacteria; hydrocarbons; syntrophus; methane; hydrogen gas; San Andreas fault; Kern River; Angeles National Forest; tar sand; anaerobe; peak oil; collapsitarian; La Brea Tar Pits

If you like this book you might enjoy: Spiral by Paul McEuen; The Lazarus Strain and other books by Ken McClure; The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton; Sequence by Lori Andrews

10 Responses to Petroplague, a science-themed thriller novel by Amy Rogers

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  2. Just finished reading Petroplague. I’d started reading Scott Sigler’s Ancester (the first I’d read of his), but wasn’t getting along with it. So I looked online for other science-type thrillers, found and quickly downloaded your book, then dived right in. Excellent novel, peopled with fascinating scientific detail and charming, engaging characters. I read very widely and science/techno thrillers are just one of the genres I dip in and out of. Still, I’ve read many books in this genre over the last 30-odd years and your book really stood out for me. Brilliantly written, researched and related at a great pace which never lets up. The ominous nature of what’s happening underscores it all, and as apocalyptic/disaster novels go, this was the cream of the crop. Very well done and look forward to more from you in the future!

    • Amy Rogers says:

      Wow, thank you so much for sharing your generous praise. I’m delighted PETROPLAGUE pleased you so. Tell a friend about it! I should have another book out by summer.

  3. Dee says:

    I finally got around to reading it and I’m five chapters in and can’t put it down. I knew you had to have a scientific background to pull off descriptions that were so elaborate. Great read so far…

    • Amy Rogers says:

      Thanks, Dee! I hope you find the rest of the novel as engaging as the beginning. I can promise that the science stays strong–and accurate–throughout.

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