Book Review: Pandemic

Pandemic by Scott Sigler, Infected #3

The alien intelligence that unleashed two horrific assaults on humanity has been destroyed. But before it was brought down in flames, it launched one last payload-a tiny soda-can-sized canister filled with germs engineered to wreak new forms of havoc on the human race. That harmless-looking canister has languished under thousands of feet of water for years, undisturbed and impotent...until now.

Days after the new disease is unleashed, a quarter of the human race is infected. Entire countries have fallen. And our planet's fate now rests on a small group of unlikely heroes, racing to find a cure before the enemies surrounding them can close in.

When I started my reading year back it was with the books of Hodder and Stoughton and their Stephen King books. After reading a few I started browsing the site and came to the "similar authors" bit where I was introduced to the books of Scott Sigler. Infected and Contagious to be exact. From the moment I started reading them I was hooked. The writing style of Scott Sigler is very down to the point and tough, he shows no remorse with any of his character or stuff that happens to them. I read Contagious some where early 2008 and since then have been eagerly awaiting the ending of the series. In the meanwhile Scott Sigler published two other books: Ancestor and Nocturnal both also read made blockbusters. After a long wait Pandemic was finally released in July earlier this year! (You bet I did a little dance when my copy arrived)

Just to start off, what is the Infected series about? It's about an mysterious disease, which will be henceforth be known as an alien invasion. Once you are infected with the alien spores, you have the first symptoms of a simple rash that soon starts to form into triangles. Later when it "matures" so to say, the virus starts to commune with it's host and slowly driving the host insane, psychopathic and extremely violent. From the first introduction to this alien race the fate of the human race spiraled rapidly out of control. A team of specialized CDC scientists led by Margret Montoya. In the series we also meet up with Perry Dawsey, one big, hulking football player who gets infected but has a gift that is humanities last hope... In Contagious Scott Sigler readily took his story further showing more of the true intentions and inner workings of the aliens and their Orbital. It all came down to a fiery display in the end that left a lot of losses in it's wake... but it wasn't over just yet... The aliens managed to save one last trump card... will this mean the end of human civilization?

This short summary doesn't come near to do justice to both Infected and Contagious. I highly recommend you read them both before starting on Pandemic

The story of Pandemic picks up after the aftermath of Contagious, the whole United States of America still remembers what happened on that specific day... One person who has the most horrible memories with which to live is Margret Montoya, she issued a set of orders that unleashed a terrible for to wipe out the alien invasion... She is now dealing with some haunting memories and for her it feels like every one is against her. Margret spends hours and hours scouring the net to read just what the general populace thinks about her and how she could have had the thought of issuing that particular order. She also thought that her decision would have wiped out the alien spores once and for all. But reality proves different and Margret is once again called back into action to serve and safe her country once again, however with such a depression going it's hard for her to find any motivation at all. Added to this is the fact that her marriage with Clarence Otto isn't also going in an easy direction. Clarence wants their relation to go to the next step and move it forward, but the haunted memories of Margret remind her that she doesn't want to bring a child into the current world. This is the start of yet another roller-coaster of a story, now not only packed with full tilt action, but with much more emotion as well, mainly owing to Margret's character. 

But back to the story. Under Lake Michigan there is one final canister packed with the alien spores. As you learned in the earlier books, they were able to change, evolve and adapt. This is their final chance... The US government identified the part in Lake Michigan and in their attempts to recover the alien parts something terribly goes wrong... and the release of a new strain of the alien virus starts off with a snowball affect of not only national but international proportions. It have become much more deadlier than the previous strains, we humans can learn from our mistakes but the alien intelligence learned as well. It's now up to a handful of scientists led by Margret to find a cure to stop the most virulent strain yet... 

I can still recall the stories of Infected and Contagious, as if I read them only yesterday and I have to say that Pandemic is a great finisher of Scott Sigler's trilogy. He has pulled all the plugs to create another terrific story. I am a big fan of what he did with Margret all along the story. The emotions that way heavily on her and the sudden plot twist that really left my mouth wide agape. Yes, Scott Sigler was ruthless in his writing but becomes even more so in Pandemic. He isn't afraid to let the characters you hold most dear to be hurt. 

The characters that we meet up with in Pandemic are recurrent and new characters. The recurrent ones are Margret and Clarence. Sadly both Dew and Perry didn't live to tell their story for another day and I do think that a lot of people will find empty holes in the story with having lost such a strong characters. However both Margret and Clarence and a new introduction Tim Feely produce, in their own way, another exciting and gripping narration. I already told about how Marget now perceives everything, she is depressed but once she has put her mind to solving the case once again she finds renewed strength, which was great to see. This later part wasn't just from one moment to the next though, Scott Sigler layers her character very carefully and with each move she makes you can still clearly see that she has a tough emotional experience behind it all. Clarence is acting as the guardian of Margret but their earlier talk didn't do the best for their mood. Clarence is still the professional and despite that they are breaking up he does everything to keep Margret safe... but how far would you go when something "bad" happens? Tim Feely, the newest introduction to the story is a great one to say the least. He is young scientist who works with recombinant yeast and has devised away to create a specific yeast strain that could possibly act as a cure against the alien invasion. He has this kind of kid attitude surrounding him, bit of boyish one, but when push does come to shove he does stand his man. You can clearly see that Tim's character is being shaped by all the events that surround him. All in all I can say that I am very pleased with the character and yes I admit that I missed Perry but Tim makes more than up for it.

One aspect that always worked for me in the books of Scott Sigler was his writing style, each of the books that I read previous, Ancestor, Infected, Contagious and Nocturnal all had a very bold writing style, sort of like in your face. For me the this hard tone wasn't that pronounced in Pandemic, there are still some very bold actions scene that Scott Sigler describes in quite vivid detail, but the dark gritty and gruesome emphasis was replaced with a much stronger emotional undercurrent. Though it wasn't what I expected, it did amaze me a lot and reflecting on the whole story works beautiful and creates an even stronger story. 

Another aspect where I have to praise Scott Sigler's book for is his accuracy in biology and science. As I said in the review of Nocturnal, he knows his deal and when he doesn't, Scott Sigler consults people who do. Being a molecular biologist myself I was pleased to again read the high accuracy of all that went down in the laboratories in Pandemic.This is a big plus for me whenever I read a science Science Fiction story. And for the people who aren't familiar with this technology, let me just say yes, it is possible... 

As for the bottom line: Pandemic is one of the best conclusions to a trilogy that I have read so far. Scott Sigler pulls all the stops and went high above my expectations. He is a ruthless writer (meaning this in the best possible ways) who isn't afraid to hurt the character you have come to love so dearly. he starts of the story of Pandemic with a slow burning story that just as the spread of the aliens picks up pace until you hit snowball effect once again. Even amongst the chaos that is happening, this time not only nationally, but globally, Scott Sigler manages to keep his writing and narration crisp and tightly controlled. Perhaps Pandemic is Scott Sigler's best book yet. Those 6 years were worth the wait, I'd love to see what the next thriller will be, a possible sequel to Ancestor? Scott Sigler has taken the term thriller to a whole new level with his Infected series. You will be examining every rash from now on...


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