Scott Sigler’s Infected Series

Scott_Sigler2About the author:

Born: Cheboygan, Michigan

Education:

B.A.-Journalism – Olivet College, Olivet, Michigan

B.S.-Marketing –Cleary College, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Website: http://scottsigler.com/

Thriller Sub-genre: Techno-thriller, Medical Thriller

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group

Future of the series:  Sigler wrote this series as a trilogy and Pandemic was the last novel of the trilogy.

The Simon Review

With the wintery weather upon us, the cold and flu season approaching, and with a hint of Ebola in the air, I thought that a good medical thriller on infectious diseases would be the icing on the cake, so I chose Scott Sigler’s Infected series to review. This series is a mixture of several genres, horror, medical thriller, techno-thriller, and science fiction. Horror, because the infection is parasitic and there is nothing like parasites to bring out the EWWWW factor in all of us; a medical thriller, because it is an infection, duh; a techno-thriller, because of the use of really neat weaponry and technology; and science fiction, because aliens are in the picture.

As you can guess from the name of the series, the storyline is about battling a very unique infection which ultimately becomes contagious. What is unique about the infection is that it is introduced to planet Earth by a highly advance extraterrestrial life form that wants to take over our planet and also has the unfortunate effect of converting the infected into homicidal maniacs. The trilogy covers different stages of the infection. In the first novel, Infection, the pathogenic entities are introduced to selective individuals including an All-American ex-football player known as ‘Scary’ Perry Dawson.  Dawson isn’t about to let some parasitic infection take over his mind and body and he ruthlessly fights back the enemy that is inside him.  While Dawson is battling the evil within him, a team of experts are trying to track down this disease and those infected to determine if it is natural or a bioterrorist threat and eventually how to stop it.  The head of the team is Murray Longworth who is the Deputy Director of the CIA and eventually becomes the director for the Department of Special Threats.  Longworth’s team consist of Doctor Margaret Montoya, an epidemiologist from the CDC; Dew Philips, a CIA operative who was also a soldier under Murray Longworth’s command during the Vietnam War; Amos Braun, assistant to Montoya and an expert in parasitology and biochemistry; and CIA agent Clarence Otto assigned to protect Margaret Montoya.

In the second novel, Contagious, the infection “mutates’ in an extraterrestrial sort of way and becomes contagious. Though Dawson overcame the infection in the first novel, it is not without long lasting effects and as a result of these effects; he is able to track down others that are infected.  I think the best part of this novel is the development of a friendship between Dawson and Dew Phillips in a manner that only two hardened testosterone driven warriors can maintain; it brought tears to my eyes. The mutated form of the infection creates a leader to organize the other plague-ridden individuals to accomplish a task that the evil alien race wants to complete. This leader happens to be a cute prepubescent girl with blond hair and blue eyes. This little girl turns into a truly evil creature that is truly annoying to the point that you really want the military to take her out.

In the third novel, Pandemic, the contagion has infected the entire world and it is up to Longworth’s merry band of followers along with some very brave Navy Seals to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of ending the pandemic. A couple of really good characters are added, Dr. Tim Feely, and Cooper Mitchell. Feely is a character that Sigler took from another one of his novels, Ancestor, and is a wise-cracking, coward turned warrior with a PhD. Cooper Mitchell is the ultimate hero of the story and manages to keep himself alive under considerably difficult conditions to ultimately save the world. Of course, the true heroes are the Navy Seals that come to rescue Mitchell, and during their ultimate battle scene, you feel like shouting out, WAY TO GO, DUDES.

I read the entire series back to back and I was mentally exhausted after I finished. The series is not for the faint of heart as it is intense and graphically violent with the worst that humanity has to offer.  Sigler originally released the series as a podiobook in discrete episodes over time and developed a huge following. I think I would have enjoyed the series more, if I took a break between each book. The series must be read in order.

Simon’s pick:

Most Favorite Novel in the Series-Infected-because I thought that Dawson’s battle with his own infection was pretty awesome.

Least Favorite Novel in the Series-Pandemic-I think I was getting burned out at this point

What about the science? Sigler is not a scientist but he does explain the science reasonably well. As for his portrayal of the science, the underlying scientific concepts are real, but the application is totally science fiction. Could the scenario of an infection in the manner that Sigler presents be possible? I highly doubt it, but you never know.

The Margaret Montoya Technical Word in Review: Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs)-In order to understand what hematopoietic stem cells are, one needs to first understand what exactly is a stem cell. Stem cells are cells that are waiting for a signal that will allow them to differentiate or change into a more specialized cell. Stem cells fall into two categories, embryonic, which are stem cells that exist at the early stages of embryonic development, and adult stem cells which are found throughout the body.  The term adult stem cell is a rather confusing, as these cells exist in an organism at the point just before and after birth, meaning they exist in children as well as adults. Adult stem cells exist to replace dead or dying cells particularly in tissue that have a high turnover rate, such as in the intestine and in blood. Hematopoietic stem cells are adult stem cells that exist in the bone marrow and will differentiate into the different types of blood cells. Blood cells fall into three categories; red blood cells, platelets or yellow blood cells, and white blood cells which are also referred to as leukocytes. White blood cells are the cells of the immune system which are made up of a variety of differentiated cells that provide different functions during an immune response. There are five different types of white blood cells; lymphocytes – which include T cells, B cells and natural killer cells which have a variety of functions that include the production of antibodies; eosinophils– target parasitic infections; basophils– cells involved in allergic reactions; neutrophils– the ‘kamakaze pilots’ of the immune system that target bacteria and fungi and contain cell digesting material known as lysosomes which degrade the pathogen as well as themselves; monocytes– the cleanup crew after the neutrophils have done their damage, they circulate in the blood and will migrate into tissue to eat up debris as well as pathogens. Neutrophils are the problem child in Sigler’s novel Pandemic.

Stem_cellsEmbryonic Stem Cells

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)


A very specific type of his stem cells, however, had been programmed to make something never seen before the infection that overwhelmed the Los Angeles.

That special type: hematopoietic stem cells, also known as HSCs.

HSCs have the ability to produce any type of blood cell. Charlie’s HSCs had been hacked to produce one specific creation, a modification of something common throughout the human body: neutrophils, more commonly called white blood cells.-Pandemic


Books in the Series by Order:

Most Favorite in the series: Pandemic with a score of 4.27

Least Favorite in the series: Infected with a score of 3.86

Based on overall ratings from Goodreads, Library Thing, and Amazon (US & UK)

Infected#1 Infected- 2008

First Line:

Alida Garcia stumbled through the dense winter woods, blood marking her long path, a bright red comet trail against the blazing white snow.


Characters

“Scary” Perry Dawsey: All American football player whose career in football ended when his knee was damaged during a game. Perry is one of the infected.

Dew Phillips: CIA operative, ex-Vietnam veteran

Dr. Margaret Montoya: CDC epidemiologist

Murray Longworth: Deputy Director of the CIA

Clarence Otto: CIA agent and romantic interest of Montoya

Amos Braun: Parasitologist and assistant to Montoya

Frank Cheng: CDC scientist


The Setting

Ann Arbor, Michigan


Across America a mysterious disease is turning ordinary people into raving, paranoid murderers who inflict brutal horrors on strangers, themselves, and even their own families.

Working under the government’s shroud of secrecy, CIA operative Dew Phillips crisscrosses the country trying in vain to capture a live victim. With only decomposing corpses for clues, CDC epidemiologist Margaret Montoya races to analyze the science behind this deadly contagion. She discovers that these killers all have one thing in common – they’ve been contaminated by a bioengineered parasite, shaped by a complexity far beyond the limits of known science.

Meanwhile Perry Dawsey – a hulking former football star now resigned to life as a cubicle-bound desk jockey – awakens one morning to find several mysterious welts growing on his body. Soon Perry finds himself acting and thinking strangely, hearing voices . . . he is infected.

The fate of the human race may well depend on the bloody war Perry must wage with his own body, because the parasites want something from him, something that goes beyond mere murder.


People infected with this crap aren’t human anymore.


From The Best Bad Reviews:

Stormy’s husband from Goodreads left this review of Scott Sigler’s novel Infected.  What an obedient husband, so how did you come up with a 3-star rating?

My wife asked me to put this on her goodreads. So here it is.


Looking for reviews for Infected check out:

Fantasy Book Critic

The Internet Review of Science Fiction

Fantasy Book Review

King of the Nerds!!

Justin Cawthorne (dot) com

Nashville Bookworm

Piggie’s Place (Audiobook)

Horror Made

CoffeeAndTrainSpotting

Bona Fide Book Reviews


Amazon Rating-US: 4.31 out of 5 stars based on 740 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.41 out of 5 stars based on 58 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.84 out of 5 stars based on 16,636 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 3.72 out of 5 stars based on 432 ratings

Total Score 3.86  (updated 11/1/17)

molecule

contagious#2-Contagious- 2008

Winner of the 2010 Our History Project Literary Excellence Silver Award for Best Audio Book

First Line:

It had to be a joke.


Characters

“Scary” Perry Dawsey, Dew Phillips, Dr. Margaret Montoya, Murray Longworth, Clarence Otto, and Amos Braun

Chelsea Jewell: A child with the infection


The Setting

Ann Arbor, Michigan


Across America, a mysterious pathogen transforms ordinary people into raging killers, psychopaths driven by a terrifying, alien agenda. The human race fights back, yet after every battle the disease responds, adapts, using sophisticated strategies and brilliant ruses to fool its pursuers. The only possible explanation: the epidemic is driven not by evolution but by some malevolent intelligence.

Standing against this unimaginable threat is a small group, assembled under the strictest secrecy. Their best weapon is hulking former football star Perry Dawsey, left psychologically shattered by his own struggles with this terrible enemy, who possesses an unexplainable ability to locate the disease’s hosts. Violent and unpredictable, Perry is both the nation’s best hope and a terrifying liability. Hardened CIA veteran Dew Phillips must somehow forge a connection with him if they’re going to stand a chance against this maddeningly adaptable opponent. Alongside them is Margaret Montoya, a brilliant epidemiologist who fights for a cure even as she reels under the weight of endless horrors.

These three and their team have kept humanity in the game, but that’s not good enough anymore, not when the disease turns contagious, triggering a fast countdown to Armageddon. Meanwhile, other enemies join the battle, and a new threat — one that comes from a most unexpected source — may ultimately prove the most dangerous of all.


“It’s contagious,” Margaret said quietly. “It finally happened.”


Looking for reviews for Contagious check out:

Tor

J.C. Hutchins

FeoMante’s Horror Thriller

The Aussie Zombie

King of the Nerds!!

Gold Star for Robot Boy

Mage Menagerie


Amazon Rating-US: 4.67 out of 5 stars based on 288 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.49 out of 5 stars based on 39 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.12 out of 5 stars based on 8,663 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 3.98 out of 5 stars based on 178 ratings

Total Score 4.14  (updated 11/1/17)

planet

pandemic#3-Pandemic- 2014            

Listed #136 out 552 on Goodreads Best Technothriller Ever Book List

Listed #86 out of 115 on Goodreads Best Medical Thrillers Book List

Listed #105 out of 168 on Goodreads Best Science Thrillers Book List

First Line:

For a hundred thousand years, the machine traveled in a straight line.


Characters

Dr. Margaret Montoya, Murray Longworth, Frank Cheng and Clarence Otto

Dr. Tim Feely: Geneticist and bioinformatician working on the triangle project


The Setting

Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Lake Michigan


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.


As for America, the final death tally was estimated at over thirty million. No disaster in the nation’s history even came close. By comparison, the influenza epidemic of the 1918 pandemic had killed some 675,000 Americans, and the Civil War around 700,000.


From The Best Bad Reviews:

Catfantastic on Goodreads reviewed Scott Sigler’s novel Pandemic.  Things must be pretty bad if you are rooting for the bad guy.

I didn’t like any of these characters. I didn’t enjoy spending time in their heads. I didn’t care about what they were doing or which calibre they were doing it with. By the end of the trilogy, I caught myself thinking that if this was all there was to Sigler’s version of humanity, maybe the aliens deserved to win.


Looking for reviews for Pandemic check out:

Slice of SciFi

Bill’s Book Review

Dragon Page

The Eloquent Page

King of the Nerds!!

Nashville Bookworm

The Aussie Zombie-Books With Brains


Amazon Rating-US: 4.64 out of 5 stars based on 318 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.70 out of 5 stars based on 47 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.22 out of 5 stars based on 3,625 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 4.10 out of 5 stars based on 50 ratings

Total Score 4.26  (updated 11/1/17)

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