Monday, January 31, 2011

Tooth and Nail and Struggling Against a Million Infected: A Book Review

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*Full disclosure: a review copy of this novel was provided by author Craig Dilouie and publishers Schmidt Haus Books.

Tagline: "This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with a slaughter. This is the story of the soldiers who tried to save it."

Author: Craig Dilouie.

There is something magical that happens while reading Craig Dilouie's Tooth and Nail. Worries fall to the wayside, the trigger finger begins to twitch, the heart races, and the imagination focuses on a darker, more exciting, rage-filled world. This aptly titled novel released April 1st, 2010 by Schmidt Haus Books and this virus plagued fantasy thriller has been described as "unique," (McKinney) a "thrill ride," (D'Orazio) and as the "perfect story" (King). These descriptions work and not since Max Brooks' Recorded Attacks has a story covered the zombie apocalypse with such an interesting, militaristic approach. The hopelessness of a world filled with millions of infected is the only sour spot in a tensely written action adventure.

Tooth and Nail covers various smaller stories of a virus filled Manhattan, while centrally focusing on Lieutenant Todd Bowman and his platoon. Bowman leads his twenty plus men from a violent Iraq to a "mad dog" (Tooth) infested midtown. Here, Bowman protects an understaffed hospital from looters, vigilantes and the disease ridden hordes. Soon, Bowman is ordered to redeploy to a local school, in order to concentrate the remaining Army forces. Things become calm for only so long, however.

Author John McKinney (Apocalypse of the Dead) states of the novel: "Tooth and Nail is one of a kind because it shows the intimate dynamics of small unit warfare." This detailed look at the infrastructure and social atmosphere of a group of soldiers is what will draw others in. The vulnerability, indecision, and challenges that befall the unit are the elements that will allow readers to identify with these "War Dogs" (Tooth). Also, the descriptions of military strategy are expert and the military details are supported by Anthony McCurdy, of the 101st Airborne Division.

Meanwhile, the desperation of Bowman and his men becomes grueling as attrition begins to take its toll. 2nd Platoon finds safety in a former school, until ordered on to a local university laboratory. Dr. Petrova is one of the leading scientists investigating a vaccine to the Lyssa virus, which turns many of those infected into murderous animals. Bowman must link up with Petrova and her colleagues. Of course, between Bowman and Petrova are a million crazed New Yawkers.

The overwhelming situation that Bowman and his fellow soldiers find themselves in is truly daunting. Early on Private Boyd falls prey to a virulent bite and later, many others fall to the infected hordes. Where is the light in all this darkness? The hope is found in the cure, but what of Bowman and his team? Where is their hope?

This book reviewer's hope is that there is a follow-up to Tooth and Nail, that explores the surviving characters' fate. The only way this will happen is if this first novel finds acclaim. So here is this critic's emphatic plea for others to purchase this novel. Otherwise, Bowman and his unit will forever rest in ambivalency!

Finally, Tooth and Nail is definitively placed in this zombie lover's top five novels, for its authoritative look at military units fighting in a virus filled hot zone. All the details are here from equipment to Army politics and the action fueled plot is surely worth a sequel. This title is for those interested in the action adventure genre and for those curious of a virus plagued worth and the choices therein. Hoorah!

Writing/story/believability: 9 (hopefully Dilouie explores the bio-terrorism angle more in a future novel).
Characters/insights/believability: 9 (this is what drew this reviewer in).

Overall: 9 out of 10 (pretty fantastic overall).

*Through research, Craig Dilouie has released The Infection through the Permuted Press (January 28th).

The novel's homepage, with reviews sourced in this article at Infected War:

The Infected War Website

Or at the fan page:

Become a Fan of the Infection!

Author David Moody (Hater, Dog Blood) gives this title a glowing review on his site:

Tooth and Nail Reviewed by David Moody

Another review of this title from writer Patrick D'Orazio:

Tooth and Nail Reviewed by Patrick D'Orazio

Spread the Dead with Dilouie's Tooth and Nail and/or The Infection:



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