This might sound childish, but after reading certain books I have a specific reaction. I pout.
I have just finished reading Contagious by Scott Sigler (the second book in his Infected trilogy) and my reaction was a pout followed by a damn it for three reasons.
- It was really good and now I have to wait for the next book.
- It was a really good read and now it’s over.
- Something happened towards the end that upset me a little bit (I love books like that).
Rather than rambling on about both Infected and Contagious together I’m going to do a short review for both. You might want to skip the last part if you haven’t read Infected yet. Not that I’d include major spoilers, but even a review can very rarely be spoiler free.
I will say for both of them that they are great books and a great story which I highly recommend.
Now three people face a race against time. Dew Philips, an agent with a classified unit of the CIA, and Margaret Montoya, a government biologist, must try to stop a modern plague that drives its victims to insanity, murder and suicide.
And Perry Dawsey, an ex-footballer in a dead-end job, must race to find a cure for the rash that has appeared on his arm. And his back. And his neck. And which is getting bigger.
And then the voices start…
What a mind fudge (yes fudge because I’m trying to control my swearing). I love mind fudges in a story, but this one was a bit different because it was more a mind fudge for the character rather than yourself.
I say it is a mind fudge because the main character, Perry, ends up infected and the infection has him hearing voices. I love how it swings from Perry being ‘sane’ to being a mental nut job while he is going through this experience. You don’t really know where this character is going most of the time and how he’ll come out at the end or even if he can continue on.
Yet there’s a part where you know something is coming which is ok because you don’t really want to believe it and it is probably all the more fucked up (sorry, but it’s the best word for it) because of knowing it’s coming.
As for the writing style itself, I’m not in love with Sigler’s writing style, but he has great story telling ability which shows and over shadows the writing style too.
In my reading experience, someone can put a lot of energy into style and completely lose sight of the story by just making it all about the words and sentences. That’s not to say that Sigler doesn’t have a style about him, but to me it’s simplistic and the story jumps out to you and gets under your skin because of the character development, detail, and plot.
There’s also some dark and disturbing content and even though the subject isn’t exactly funny I think Scott Sigler might have quite a sense of humour because I read a lot of humour in there. I even had a chuckle at times.
The funny thing for me though was how much I loved the character Perry. Here’s this young jock (at the end of this book I started to wonder if perhaps Sigler is a footy fan because there was a lot of American football talk and yet it wasn’t enough to take away from the story) who comes out with some very ignorant, rude, slightly homophobic (but not seemingly intentional) and very sexist slurs and yet I love the character that is Perry Dawsey. He could have turned out to be very one dimensional and stereotypically boorish, but he is actually pretty complex and a very entertaining character. I do like the other characters (some of which grew on me into the next book), but I think it helps following Perry’s problems and thanks to the main plot having to read a lot about him as well.
I could probably ramble on a lot more about it because I love it, but I’m just going to recommend you read it if this is your sort of subject.
When the seeds landed on Chelsea Jewell, they made her seven year old body and mind the incubator for the worst plague ever to attack the planet.
Mankind’s best hope of defence is Perry Dawsey: host-turned-hunter, bloodthirsty psychotic, and – with his new strange ability – a key member in the black-ops team leading a deadly battle against the mysterious disease that is spreading across America.
Now Dawsey and the rest of the black-ops team are in a desperate race to find and destroy Chelsea and her ‘family’ before it’s too late.
I think this book carried on really well from the first one and I’m really glad it did because I originally came across this trilogy because of this book. There is a review about it on Horrorscope which has the gas mask cover (I love gas masks and I completely agree with the wow factor in that review too) and I decided I just had to read it, but of course I had to read it all in order.
I also think this book helped me love Perry Dawsey as a character even more because of the changes he goes through and I love the reactions from the other characters towards him because I think it adds more depth to the characters around him and to the story. There are quite a lot of conflicts in there and not just between characters, but also emotional and moral conflicts happening throughout the whole story.
There are also a lot of very stereotypical redneck, homophobic, old school male chauvinistic references in this story and yet there’s a part of it that’s homo-erotic. That may not have been intentional and I probably just picked up on it because I’m queer and can’t help myself. I also have a few friends who are also always pointing out homo-erotic scenarios and situations in very heterosexual stories and I really picked up on it in this book because some of the male characters remind me of guys from the 50s who have some very old school values.
That’s not the focus though and I don’t want to make it sound like it is. The focus is the story and Perry’s journey laced with a lot of action; I have just observed those other aspects of it which might not even come to a lot of people’s attention.
And there is a lot of action, a lot of very good action. There’s also a lot of detail explaining said action, but Sigler doesn’t go on about it or repeat himself beyond bearing like a lot of authors will do (that includes the repeating of specific key points from the first novel) which makes me very happy. Instead he shares some details and gets right into the story.
There’s also one other character I wish to mention – Chelsea Jewell – great character and not because she’s complex like Perry Dawsey or because she’s amusing like two of the other characters that share banter, it’s because of how she is used in this story. It can be considered pretty dark and twisted which is probably why I like it so much, but I won’t get into what happens there because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. It basically has to do with the infection and the escalation of the story.
This book is pretty much just as well written as the first with even more character development because you have more time with the other characters. Add onto that there’s also more action on a far broader scale and, same as with Infected, even though it has some dark content there’s still quite a sense of humour in there which makes it a fast paced read with some amusement as well.
Last, but not least, I won’t be happy if I don’t mention that Scott Sigler writes some great lines. Not along the lines of something from Proust or Orwell, but more amusement wise. That also includes some of his chapter titles which crack me up (If ifs and buts were candy and nuts) and now I feel I have to quote them in my day to day life.
And now it’s time to wait for the next one…