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CONTAGIOUS - 2009
by Scott Sigler
$24.95 US / $27.95 CAN
I've never heard a bigger buzz for any Horror Thriller novel. Most Horror Thriller novels are all wrapped up in the first book. A sequel may come out sometime down the road, but most aren't written that way. Scott Sigler's INFECTED novels spread across a three novel arc with full intent. Even King didn't have this much excited buzz over his Dark Tower series.
Scott Sigler starts with the old premise from the 1940s and 50s: what if an alien invasion took the form of a parasite?
The difference here is, we live in an technologically advanced era where Scott can go into horrific, yet scientific detail, on how such an alien invasion might be possible. And he does it from the point of view of five different people who know it is happening, but have no idea how, or why, or even what can stop it. But they're learning, and they have to learn really fast. As we saw in the first novel, INFECTED, this contagion only uses humans for their larval stage (that's not really what they are, but it is the best way to explain it to someone who hasn't read these books). We met some of these characters in the first novel.
There's Perry Dawsey, former college football superstar, ready to go pro, when a knee injury put him out of the game forever. His weird, twisted life dovetailed into this weird twisted alien invasion at a terrible price. Though Perry survived the disease, like Captain Picard and his Borgs, something still remains with Dawsey in that he somehow "hears" where the next wave of the disease is coming down and who will be infected. And when Perry knows that, he kills the diseased before they ever have a chance of becoming Survivors.
Ultra-hardcore old and should be retired but he's just too damned experienced CIA agent Dew Philips. Dew lost his partner to this disease in the first book, and doesn't like working with the only survivor of this disease, Perry Dawsey. But to save lives he has no choice. With the take no prisoners attitude of this disease, it becomes clear real quick in no uncertain terms that this sickness is only the first stage of an invasion. Whether Dew likes it or not, acceptable losses is a term that must come into play. This doesn't sit well at all with -
President John Gutierrez. He just came into office unaware that the U.S. was under attack from an unanticipated alien invasion. In his first 30 days he has had to go from unbelieving to forced acceptance to abandoning his poofy ideology which has no bearing or merit in the real world. Even more to the point when what we know of the real world is getting hit by an alien reality. Gutierrez is able to reach inside himself and find the strength to lead, which is more than can be said for his Chief of Staff -
Vanessa Colburn. She isn't a leader, but a campaigner. She only knows how to win a competition at all costs and burn the fields behind her. This made her great at getting John Gutierrez elected, but its no way to run a country. Vanessa Colburn is full of unmapped ideology and is unconcerned with trifles like the Constitution of the United States except as a device to hamstring her rivals. The alien invasion, from such an unlikely method and from an unknown source, leaves far too many questions unanswered. There are only two people who can answer those questions.
Murray Longworth, CIA Deputy Director, but not THE Deputy Director - which is merely a media face puppet job. Murray is a special go-to guy for all things covert and has been through many a president. Leaders come and go, Murray remains: he's just that damnably good at his job. But Murray can only see the big picture. He can only think of what's best for the entire population of America, which means that taking into account the lives of small groups of people is secondary to him. So that job falls to -
Dr. Margaret Montoya from the CDC. Nobody has expertise at this kind of alien invasion but Dr. Margaret has the best experience at contagious skin
borne infections. Thing is, is it contagious or is it something that is being intentionally made to appear contagious? Margo is ably assisted by Clarence and Amos. Both are agents with a longer history with each other than with Margo, but Margo is the boss.
I can't recall the last time I read a book that was so intriguing with characters that were so well thought out, drawn out, and with so little to describe them.
Author Sigler uses the routines, humor, professionalism, even the exhaustion of his characters to unveil small pieces of who they are, what they do and how they do it that hints at a larger life unseen. These are not fictional pastiches with clip-art motivations.
What's more, Sigler is going for full bore Horror Thriller. It's not enough that it's gory, Scott wants to scare you. Also, it's not enough that he wants to scare you, he wants to create an alien invasion so seemingly real, so scientifically accurate that you start feeling an itch or two yourself while reading it. Yet the science never becomes a drab yawnfest lecture. Sigler drives forward into the amazing dynamics of it all at a fast - but never too fast - pace.
CONTAGIOUS is more than just a sequel to a stand alone book that didn't need one. It's a natural continuation of the story started in INFECTED. It's well-written, thought-out, and especially well-conceived. Previous novels in this sub-genre skimmed lightly over the science of it all because, at that time, we just didn't know as much then as we know now. CONTAGIOUS is one of the best books I've read in a long time and certainly the best series I've read in the last ten years.
Scott Sigler's INFECTED and CONTAGIOUS just might become one of the greatest Science Fiction Horror Thriller series ever and CONTAGIOUS is certainly one of the best SF Horror Thrillers ever and that's why it gets all five BookWyrms.
copyright 2009 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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