One of my favourite reads of last year came from author Craig DiLouie. I was so impressed with his The Infection that I rushed out to order this earlier novel from his word processor. At first glance, they seemed quite similar. Both deal with an apocalyptic end of the world scenario, featuring creatures that, more or less, are zombies. Both follow groups of characters trying to survive as said apocalypse unfolds. Both are written in the present tense and both involve small groups battling superior enemy numbers.
But there the similarities end.
Unlike the book that would ultimately follow it, Tooth and Nail is told almost exclusively from the POV of a number of members of the U.S. Army, so it lacks some of the more colourful characters present in the Infection. It’s also very technical in detail, meaning those who enjoy reading about particular types of weapons, the calibre of bullets they use, and the damage they can inflict will be right at home here. Additionally, the threat itself is far more straight forward – a virus which turns people into “Mad Dogs” with the virus being passed on by any bite from an infected individual – and there are none of the fantastical monsters which DiLouie deployed to such creative effect in the Infection.
I guess what I’m, trying to say is: Tooth and Nail reads like a first try at an apocalyptic novel, complete with numerous issues, and it seems DiLouie then went away and re-wrote the book in a superior fashion, coming up with The Infection in the process. The most prominent support of this is how one dimensional most of the characters in Tooth and Nail are. Reading this at times felt like watching Battle: Los Angeles. Dispensable and interchangeable grunts battling a superior foe in an attempt to complete their mission and save the human race. I failed to care about any character in that movie (when I could tell them apart), and I had much the same trouble here for everyone other than Bowman, Mooney and McLeod, until very late in the novel. As such, I was never as fully engaged nor entertained by what was taking place.
All of this is making it sound like Tooth and Nail is a poor book when it most certainly is not. It’s a perfectly serviceable one. It just isn’t great like The Infection.
2.5 to 3 LTs ordering FPF from SAW and RPGs for Tooth and Nail.