Welcome To Lazarus

Instead of a "BANG", humanity is passing away with the shuffling of dead feet, and hungry moans. Desperate men and women fight against the rising tide for the newly risen dead.Sometimes, though, the undead are not he most dangerous things out there. Civilization has failed the test; the only thing left is survival.

Lazarus is just one of many places where humanity holds on by a thread, and life and death come as easily as a roll of the dice.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Tooth and Nail" by Craig Dilouie (Book Review)

"Tooth and Nail", by Craig Dilouie is not your typical undead zombie novel.  It falls squarely in the "28 Days" rage zombie camp.  Still, this is probably one of the best zombie genre novels I've read in a long time. 

The Plot:
The action centers around a company of US Army soldiers in the middle of Manhattan, after an emergency redeployment from Iraq.   They find themselves, still shaking Iraqi sand out of their boots, guarding a hospital as New York, America, and the rest of the world deals with a flu pandemic the likes of which has never seen.  Things quickly go from bad to worse, as a small percentage of flu victims become violently aggressive.  These victims ferally attack any non-infected person they find; in turn infecting more and more people. These infected people become no more than vicious, mindless zombies.

Their mission morphs from one of security to one of survival as things unravel quickly.  With a population of over 500K, Manhattan becomes a nightmare landscape, as bands of "Mad Dogs" roam the streets attacking any uninfected they come across.  The Battalion that the company belongs to is tasked with rescuing a stranded doctor, who has unlocked the secrets of the "Hong Kong Lyssa" virus.  She may very well hold the key to the survival of mankind.  I won't go any deeper, because I really think it would only diminish the reading experience if I did.

First The Negatives:
There are always good and bad points to every story.  I will start off with the bad, as I see them.  There are only two things I would even remotely consider as being in the negative column. The first is that the zombies are not your atypical undead variety.  Purists may find this a deal breaker; for me it really didn't matter.  The zombie's behavior is consistent with the genre, and does make for a compelling threat to the main characters.  The second thing I would consider a negative is that the storyline is sort of formulaic.  I mean you can see major turns coming, because the story really couldn't go any other direction.  Upon reflection, almost all zombie fiction falls into this trap.  It's one of the pitfalls of the genre; there are only so many ways you can write of a zombie apocalypse, and any one who is an avid fan will most likely have run across the varied plot devices and hooks in some previous story.  I don't think that either of the negatives I mentioned detract from the book one bit.

And Now The Positives:

Now onto the positives.  The first is that this is a rip roaring action book.  The author sets up the story and then dives in.  The action is hard and heavy, yet evenly paced.  The lulls make sense, and he uses them to drive the narrative forward.  The second positive is that unraveling of society makes sense.  Nothing happens in the story that made me go, "why that makes no sense and is just dumb".  While formulaic, as mentioned before, nothing jumps out, and it all fits together well.  It really turns me off when post apocalyptic writers make these huge jumps in logic when dealing with how things fall apart, simply to drive a story forward.

Thirdly, and this is a big one for me,  the author has at least a passing knowledge, if not practical, of how the Army works.  As a military veteran, nothing drives me crazy, or turns me off more than an author who obviously has no clue when writing about military characters or action.  Everything from improper nomenclature and equipment to action that absolutely would not take place in a US military unit, even during an apocalypse, are things that simply drive me batty.  There is only so far I can take suspension of disbelief.  There are some things that he gets wrong, and at least one sentence that is obviously an editing error. Still the author here does  a great job of steering clear of that pitfall by and large. 

The last positive I'll note is the one that simply makes this book for me; the characters.  The author does a fantastic job developing them into people that you can empathize with.  You've got the various archetypes you find in every action and/or zombie story.  The warrior, the goofball, the reluctant leader, the lost, etc.  They are more than simple cardboard cut outs, though.  He does a great job of fleshing them out; giving them real feelings.  I found myself thinking, "Man, that's how I think I'd feel, if it were me", or "that's completely understandable, given the situation".  There are some real poignant moments as they contemplate the idea of their loved ones suffering hundreds of miles away or deal with the fact that their fellow citizens are now the enemy.  The passages that made me go "Wow", was when the unit dealt with fellow soldiers who had become infected.  They will strike a cord with anyone who has ever felt the camaraderie that is present in a tightly knit military unit.  In the end, you'll care about all of the main characters, and even feel for the "zombies" as well.

I have a compulsive habit of reading about the first 1/4 of a book, then flipping to the last page and reading the last paragraph.  I have no idea why I do this.  If the last paragraph doesn't grab me, at that point, my interest in a book will wane, and it will take me longer to finish, if I do at all.  If the last paragraph does grab me, then I dive right back in.  I did that with this book, and the my first though was "Yeah, I kind of saw that coming", quickly followed by, "Man that kind of sucks, I wonder how he (the author) got there?"  I then proceeded to finish the novel in the next 48 hours.  Closing the book I was very satisfied.

Weighing everything together, this book is a must read for any zombie, or PA, enthusiast.  You won't go wrong.

4 comments:

  1. Good review! I shall certainly keep an eye out for it.

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  2. I read this a couple of months back and really liked it. The review is fairly accurate in my opinion as well. The other book is 'Infection' this distorts the zombie genre to one that has other creatures introduced evolving or are from a parasitic alien life form.
    Tooth & Nail though, thumbs up.

    Ross

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  3. Nice Review. So many books to pickup now. I just got 'Feed' by Mira Grant from the library today. Thanks to Vampifan's review of the sequel.

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  4. I just bought this book and could not put it down. Well written! I would recomend highly recommend this book!

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