"The kill rate in humans infected with Ebola Zaire is 9 out of 10. Ninety percent of the people who come down with Ebola Zaire die of it. Ebola Zaire is a slate wiper in humans" (Preston 38). With these words, Richard Preston in his book The Hot Zone begins to raise real and serious questions about the nature of infectious diseases in society today. In the same way, Robin Cook raises real and serious questions about infectious diseases in his novel Outbreak. Using creative examples of characterization, sensory imagery, and symbolism, Preston and Cook are accurately able to reveal the theme of infectious diseases. Thus, while the concern of infectious diseases remains, better understanding of it comes from seeing it illustrated so masterfully in Preston's The Hot Zone and in Cook's Outbreak.
Characterization is a tool that is necessary to create a well-written piece of literature. It is important for readers to be able to relate to characters. Each reader must be able to say "I know somebody just like that", or, "I"m just like that". Readers develop a relationship with characters while they read and begin to feel their pain or happiness. In Richard Preston's The Hot Zone, this type of characterization is displayed. In the character of Nancy Jaax, readers experience her struggle with the Ebola virus and its handling as well as her interference of work with family life. Nancy has a maid to come in and take care of her children because she does not have the time to take care of them due to the fact that both her and her husband are enlisted in the Army as veterinarians. Even if a reader is not in this type of situation, cases like this have been exploited through media so well that everyone either has experienced it or known someone who has. Characterization such as this is why The Hot Zone was a best seller. .
Characterization is also mastered in Robin Cook's Outbreak. Marisa, the main character, is faced with various decisions about mixing business with pleasure.