Immediately after I finished reading the first book in this series, Infected, I had to continue with Contagious. Although not your classic cliffhangerImmediately 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....more
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 hoI 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....more
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 anI 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....more
I'm always a little wary of the second book in a trilogy, but reading Thunder and Ashes was a bit different than normal. Although The Morningstar StraI'm always a little wary of the second book in a trilogy, but reading Thunder and Ashes was a bit different than normal. Although The Morningstar Strain is a trilogy, this is the last book in the series fully written by Z.A. Recht (the third one is partly ghost-written) and I've read it several years ago, so I was pretty much aware of what I was getting myself into.
The first book in the series, Plague of the Dead, is very much about establishing the characters, the virology and the collapse of the world in the wake of a zombie apocalypse. Thunder and Ashes focuses more on just a few particular events, and how the remnants of the human race are faring as they try and survive. There are goodies, baddies and several characters that cross the line between one 'side' and the other, but it does lack further character development.
One thing that I did find very frustrating was that in the last book characters made mistakes because of emotional reactions which was realistic, however in Thunder and Ashes they made stupid mistakes that I couldn't understand - going into a town that obviously has seen some bad shit go down just to 'check it out' isn't something I would expect from a group of highly trained military.
In Thunder and Ashes, some of the characters that appear to be key characters in the first book start to fall into the background which is a shame, but the others start to really establish themselves as leaders, fighters and hardcore survivors. There is a continuation of the focus on the military and the search for a cure, with both plot lines crossing into each other constantly.
Like Plague of the Dead, there are a lot of action scenes, and all of them exceedingly well-written with some heart-stopping moments as things hang in the balance, daring rescues take place and the defence of pockets of survivors take top priority. Although there are action scenes in the first book, in this one the stakes feel infinitely higher and more personal, which I really enjoyed.
As a 'middle' book, it's not a bad book, but there were some disappointments for me in the character development, and although the pace is frenetic it didn't really feel like events were particularly moving forward. However, this is definitely a book for post-apocalyptic and zombie fans and a good continuation of the series.
David Moody's Autumn was one of the first zombie books I read, and I quickly moved onto book two and three in the series. However, book four was stillDavid Moody's Autumn was one of the first zombie books I read, and I quickly moved onto book two and three in the series. However, book four was still waiting for its published release and I kind of lost my place. So when I was looking for a zombie book, I thought I would re-read the first three books, in order to finish the whole series.
What I like about David Moody's books are that the characters aren't particularly heroic, brave or likeable - they're average people, in terrible situations that sometimes don't act in a particularly endearing way - they complain, they moan, and they make some pretty stupid decisions along with good ones. The other thing that I really like about David Moody's writing is his imagination - he takes an idea, such as zombies, and puts a really unique twist on them without loosing the basic ideas that make zombies scary.
In Autumn, David Moody once again takes the 'traditional' zombie idea and spins it into something slightly different, and focuses on a trio of survivors who find themselves isolated on a farm. This means the pacing is not really up at the level of a lot of other zombie novels, but it does help to build tension and establish the characters as individuals, although I found the two male characters, Michael and Carl did blur together a little in the beginning. Despite the more languid pace of Autumn, it does pick up at the end with some pretty intense gore and action scenes as things start to spiral out of control.
Although I wasn't blown away by Autumn, I did enjoy revisiting David Moody's style again, and I will be continuing to re-read and finish the series....more
I first read The Passage at the end of 2010, and with the release of the second book, The Twelve, in October I had an urge to go back and re-read it.I first read The Passage at the end of 2010, and with the release of the second book, The Twelve, in October I had an urge to go back and re-read it. And re-reading it was no small undertaking - at nearly 800 pages, this is not a quick whip through kind of read. In hindsight, I remembered far more than I thought, but I'm still very glad I did revisit it again.
The Passage is a mixture of post-apocalyptic and paranormal horror. There's a massive cast of characters, ranging from good to evil, outgoing to wallflower, and the span of the plot covers more than 100 years.
Starting with the story of Amy, the main protagonist of the story, whose very birth and upbringing is just another sad tale of life dealing a difficult hand, from the very beginning The Passage had me intrigued. Relating to Amy is easy for the first part of the book - a small child caught up in a conspiracy that threatens to swallow her up, she balances childlike innocence with a maturity only found in children with a tough start in life.
My other favourite character was Waldgren, whose own difficult past, caring attitude, strong sense of right and wrong and calm, cool demeanor made him incredible likable while keeping that 'real-guy' feeling.
The middle part of the book was the only disappointment for me. From a tension-filled and intriguing beginning, it seemed to stall a little as the story moved into the second-phase - and introducing a very large cast of main and supporting characters in a short period of time made it difficult to feel 'settled-in'. Luckily the pace and tension increases in the last third of the book as things spiral out of control, and more of the world is revealed.
Justin Cronin can definitely write a scary book. It's not overwhelming in its blood and gore, but tension is high, the writing is lyrically hypnotic and the characters begin to emerge as individuals the more the book progresses. There are some gaps in the world building, but it's not a sense of the author skipping over things that comes through, it's more a feeling that there is a lot to reveal, and Mr. Cronin is going to do it bit by tantalising bit.
After my disastrous re-reading of a popular zombie novel last year, I started to get more scared about re-reading books that I’d loved the first timeAfter my disastrous re-reading of a popular zombie novel last year, I started to get more scared about re-reading books that I’d loved the first time around. But I felt that I needed to read The Reapers are the Angels again before moving onto the next book, Exit Kingdom – and I’m glad to say that re-reading it was so worthwhile.
Temple is a loner – she lives in an abandoned lighthouse, removed from the remnants of human civilisation. Born after the zombie apocalypse she has never known life to be anything other than a constant fight for survival in a world where one wrong move could be her last. She’s a fighter, brutal and unforgiving, but underneath her tough exterior is a girl who struggles to understand herself – her motivation, her feelings and her remorse are all shoved behind a tough exterior. And I loved her right from the beginning. Despite her struggle with demons both inside and outside, she’s an unforgettable character.
The Reapers are the Angels is more about the human side of the zombie apocalypse than the undead side – relationships are fragile, built on moments and chance, and Temple has experienced that first hand – it’s made her hard and seemingly cold. And yet as she moves through a landscape that is full of danger, parts of her humanity start to seep through – despite the fact it puts her at more risk of being hurt than when she existed only for her own survival.
Apart from Temple, what makes this book so outstanding is the writing. It’s so beautiful, so melodic and so captivating that at times I actually forgot I was reading a post-apocalyptic zombie novel and just lost myself in the words. In that respect, The Reapers are the Angels is definitely more unique than most other zombie novels – although it’s terrifically gory and intense in places, the writing is what really held my attention.
There is nothing I didn’t enjoy about this book – from the characters to the writing to the plot and pacing, it worked perfectly for me, even the second time around....more