Immediately after I finished reading the first book in this series, Infected, I had to continue with Contagious. Although not your classic cliffhanger...moreImmediately after I finished reading the first book in this series, Infected, I had to continue with Contagious. Although not your classic cliffhanger ending, I wanted to get to the next part of the story, and because I have read Contagious before, I knew that it was more action-packed, intense and gory apocalyptic horror just waiting for me.
Where Infected focuses on three main perspectives in Margaret, Perry and Dew, Contagious broadens to include a host of other unforgettable characters, some of whom are definitely not your normal baddies, and a disease that grows more and more brutal as the story continues.
What I particularly enjoyed about the characters in Contagious is the development - Perry is still dealing with the events of Infected and the impact is intense. As the book progresses however, he definitely develops into an even more admirable character and I really enjoyed seeing his relationships with the other characters grow. For much of Infected he was flying solo, and it was the final piece of his character that fell into place.
I also felt that I got to know Margaret as a character more intimately than I did after Infected, and it definitely warmed me to her, particularly as she struggled with some difficult decisions. Knowing that she is the main focus of the next book in the series, this was a huge plus for me - if I hadn't found her to be more likeable than in Infected, it probably would have muted my anticipation for Pandemic.
Dew also continues to become more of a well-rounded character as he begins to let down the walls that he had in the previous book and connects with the other characters on a more personal level. It felt like all three characters were completely invested in the storyline and in each other, and seeing that growth was incredibly satisfying.
One thing that really stood out to me in Contagious is the increased military presence. Understandably, its not that prevalent in Infected which focuses far more on the initial outbreak, but it's also something that I don't find particularly interesting, although by my standards it was very well written and explained. This is particularly where Contagious was a weaker book for me than Infected and I found the POV of the character most heavily involved in the military aspect to be the least interesting and I started to develop that nasty habit of rushing through a POV just to get through that part of the story. This is all a personal preference of course.
The pacing of the story is fast yet detailed and once again the shorter chapters (and the chapter headings are pure genius by the way) made it difficult to put the book down. The POVs switch quite often, which I know is a turn off for some people, but I like the fast-moving feeling that it gives the story as it fits with the pacing. Contagious ends not with a cliffhanger but openly, leaving a way for the story to be continued, but enough to round off the book perfectly.(less)
I first read Infected in early 2010, just before my zombie obsession started, and although it was more than three years ago, I could still remember ho...moreI first read Infected in early 2010, just before my zombie obsession started, and although it was more than three years ago, I could still remember how this book made me feel (more on that later!). With the release of the third book coming up in a just a few weeks, I wanted to go back and re-read both Infected and Contagious as both a refresher and to be able to write a review which I didn’t do the first time around.
Infected is told through three POVs – the most memorable and the one that held my attention the most being that of Perry, the former footballer who now has a fairly mundane but comfortable life repairing computers and spending most of his time with his BFF, Bill. What makes Perry so memorable is not so much the character he is at the beginning of the book, but what he goes through during the course of the story. It’s difficult to explain exactly how Perry changes without spoiling the plot, but it’s also connected to the reason I had remembered this book so vividly three years and three hundred books later.
The second POV is Doctor Margaret Montoya and is perhaps for me the weakest POV. What Sigler does exceptionally well in this series is to build an intricate and complex plot with detailed explanation on the infection, the causes and the effects, but it does manifest as a little bit of info-dumping in Margaret’s perspective. It’s a difficult balance, and for a reader who is much more interested with the science than me it would most probably be fascinating. Having said all of that, Margaret is a complex character, and not stereotypical in the role that she plays – she isn’t overly confident and it does make her more likeable to have that vulnerability whilst giving her room to grow and develop as a character.
Lastly is the POV of Dew Phillips, the aging former military-man turned cop. I know my description of him sounds a little cliché, and he is actually just that. His anger at his daughter’s life choices, his language and actions should make him a cardboard cut-out, but it’s his dedication to his partner and finding out as much as possible about the infection that makes him far more than that.
As I hinted at earlier, there are several parts of Infected that stuck with me for a very specific reason, and had just the same effect on me the second time around. I’m trying to play with the words to try and make it not negative, but there are certain parts of this book that had me feeling physically nauseous. Now, before you click away from this review and think this isn’t a book for you, I also want to explain that those particular parts, although gruesome, are incredibly well written. To be able to evoke such a reaction in me, when I have only ever cried over two books in my lifetime and that this is the only one to make me feel physically nauseous, actually says a lot about the prowess of Sigler’s writing. And you can always skim those bits if you can’t handle it ;-)
Infected is split into very short chapters which fits the pacing of the book perfectly – the story moves quickly and the POVs are well defined and all very relevant to the story. Often with multiple POVs I find myself rushing through the ‘less interesting’ one to get back to the character I find most interesting, but that wasn’t the case with Infected. I found all the characters, and what was happening to them, interesting and very relevant to the story.
Infected is a frenetic read, with excellent world-building, interesting characters that shrug off their outer clichés, develop throughout the story and still have room to grow in the next book. It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted in places, but it remains one of my favourite non-zombie virus books by far.(less)
World War Z or When Re-Reads Disappoint A few weeks ago, I wrote a post aboutwhy I love re-readingbooks, and I mentioned that in the last year only on...moreWorld War Z or When Re-Reads Disappoint A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about why I love re-reading books, and I mentioned that in the last year only one particular book was really disappointing when I revisited it, and that book was World War Z.When I first read it, I was only just beginning to explore the zombie genre. I recall being captivated by the journalistic style, meeting a range of different characters, and experiencing the whole arc of the zombie-apocalypse. I was interested to see exactly how I would feel going back to read one of the books that started my obsession, and perhaps in that way my expectations were set incredibly high.
World War Z moves through the initial zombie-virus outbreak, the apocalypse and into the recovery of the human race, via interviews with various survivors who experienced the apocalypse in a multitude of ways. There are doctors, military, politicians and a few average joes that give their own perspectives.The problem with all of these perspectives is that it's difficult to get to know particular characters, and that some of the POVs are very heavily focused on only one side of the story. In that way, I got bored with many of the POVs, particularly those that became more of an exploration of ways that skeevy individuals exploited the deaths and suffering of other people and the heavily militarised stories.In any book with this kind of set up there's the risk of skimming, but I found myself doing it far more than I normally would, and I think that's because there weren't enough 'average joe' perspectives, which is what I find most interesting. The actual plot itself and the way the story moves through the stages of the apocalypse is quite interesting, but those freaking POVs kept distracting me from that.I will, however, continue to recommend WWZ as a book for zombie newbies, because it does offer a huge variety of characters and perspectives, it's just not going to be on my list of favourites. I don't regret re-reading it because I know that my tastes have changed, and it's almost reassuring to know that there are other zombie books out there that do stand up to re-reads.(less)
I first read Under the Dome in 2010, just after it was first released. A long time fan of Stephen King, I was looking forward to getting stuck into an...moreI first read Under the Dome in 2010, just after it was first released. A long time fan of Stephen King, I was looking forward to getting stuck into another King epic. For me, Stephen King has the ability to make even a 1074 page book into a fast, addictive, page-turner, and Under the Dome was no exception (I read it for the first time over a weekend - yep, in two days).
Since I've read about 300 books in between readings, my memory was pretty hazy as to the details, but I knew the major plot line - a small town in Maine is suddenly cut off from the outside world by a invisible, impenetrable dome. What follows is the story of what happens to the townspeople inside as shit starts to get real.
I was a huge fan of the opening of Under the Dome the first time, and the second time was no exception. It's a real attention grabber - the dome falls within the first few pages, and the amount of detail in which King describes the event is so imaginative that once I started reading, I found it difficult to stop.
As with many King novels, the cast of characters is huge, but there are only a few key characters - some of them average guys just trying to do the right thing and others are just plain crazy evil bastards. I love me a good baddie, and the baddies in Under the Dome are pretty despicable. Despite all the characters, I really liked how it gave me more perspectives - although I'm definitely a reader that will disregard less-than-stellar characterisation for a good plot line, so readers who need that strong character connection may not be able to forgive as readily as myself.
Under the Dome sounds like it couldn't possibly stretch to over 1000 pages - it's a bunch of people stuck in a small area and it sounds like the problems they face could become pretty repetitive, but King finds ways to make each persons' story unique. A pretty big deal considering the multitude of characters, but as always the amount of imagination and planning that goes into Under the Dome is pretty typical of King, and one of the reasons I enjoy reading his books so much.
Perhaps my only disappointment in the book as a whole is the actual reason behind the dome and the ending. It's kinda cool, and unique, but it also felt in the scheme of the plot it was over and done with pretty quickly - just not as balanced as I would have liked it to be, and perhaps even no real explanation would have worked better for me.
On the second reading, I've rated it slightly lower than my first reading, but before blogging my ratings were pretty much on gut feeling and the speed of which I read a book rather than weighing up the pros and cons, but I still really enjoyed Under the Dome, and it's definitely one of the most memorable Stephen King books I've read.(less)