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Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Tooth and Nail" by Craig DiLouie (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Read a chapter excerpt here
Visit the Official Site for Tooth and Nail here
Order Tooth and Nail from Amazon here

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Craig DiLouie is the author of four nonfiction and three fiction books. He is a freelance marketing consultant and technical writer living in Calgary, Alberta.

PLOT SUMMARY: As a new plague related to the rabies virus infects millions of people, America recalls its military forces from around the world to safeguard hospitals and other vital buildings. Many of the victims become rabid and violent but are easily controlled-that is, until so many are infected that they begin to run amok, spreading slaughter and disease. They are the Mad dogs and are leaving civilization in tatters.

Lieutenant Todd Bowman got his unit through the horrors of combat in Iraq. Now he must lead his men across New York through a storm of violence to secure a research facility that may hold a cure. To succeed in this mission to help save what's left of society, the men of Second Platoon will face a terrifying battle of survival against the very people they have sworn to protect-people turned into a fearless, endless horde armed solely with tooth and nail.
FORMAT/INFO: Tooth and Nail is 247 pages divided into twelve chapters. Narration is via Third person and features many characters chiefly being Todd Bowman, Dr. Valeriya Petrova, PFC John Mooney, Sergeant Ruiz and many others. This book has a self-contained plot line.

April 1, 2010 marks the Trade paperback publication of Tooth and Nail via Schmidt Haus Books.

Tooth and Nail from its blurb quintessentially seems to be a zombie military novel and whilst I went in with those thoughts, the actual book turned out to be a bit more than that.

For one the zombies in this book are scientifically explained. It turns out that something called Mad Dog or Lyssavirus is infecting people in the United States of America and turning them into slobbering angry creatures whose sole instinct/purpose is to bite and eat the other non-infected people. Such is the tremendous assault of the virus that the government has recalled all of its troops from all of its foreign bases and one such group is the second platoon which has been stationed in New York City in one of the interim Mad dog patient hospital camps.

The tale beings by introducing us to Private Mooney who is being acclimatized to this sudden trip home. However home (NYC) seems to be more different than he can remember. The novel then shows the various scenarios of all the characters as they see the people infected with the virus and also some of the more violent confrontations they have with the Mad Dogs.

Thus begins the story as the second platoon receives word about Dr. Valeriya Petrova who seems to have made a breakthrough with the virus and has created a pure sample which can be utilized to create a vaccine. However the lab which she is working in is locked out and is surrounded by Mad dogs both within and without. The journey begins when the soldiers of the second platoon which will see them go through various horrors in order to get Dr. Petrova and the possible cure.

There were a couple of issues that arose during my reading of this novel. Primarily being that the author has written this book with constant POV switches in between lines and paragraphs. This broke up the flow of the story because I was following a certain character it would switch to someone else and then back again and this goes on through out the entire book. This was not only confusing but made it hard for me to follow the story and what character was doing what. This style distracted me enough to prevent me from enjoying the story properly.

Secondly the story didn’t have a proper conclusion. It picks from this vantage point wherein the virus has already spread and infected large numbers of people and then ends on another point just after they reach Dr. Petrova but the reader will only be able to fill in as to what might have happened next from his/her imagination.

Tooth and Nail isn't all filled with issues, there are plenty of positives of the novel. This story is very gritty and gruesome as it is told from the eyes of the soldiers in the front and it pulls no punches as the reader sees the fear, the tension and the all pervasive feeling of doom. This reminded me a bit about Glen Cook’s Black company books if they ever had a zombie problem. The book is very realistic in its approach to the life of the foot soldier and kudos must be given to the author for revealing it to be such. The body count is also high as no character is truly safe as would be the case in a real-life scenario.

In the end I can say that while this book was a good one, the plot and structural issues threw me a bit off and therefore did not allow me to enjoy the book as much as I could have imagined. Check this one if you are a fan of Glen Cook’s Black Company books or you like gritty military zombie fiction.



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