Customer Reviews: Tooth and Nail
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on May 23, 2010
I am a fan of both the military fiction and zombie tale genres and DiLouie's Tooth and Nail delivers both in spades.

Here's what is so cool about this novel:

1. Very realistic -- this may be about zombies, but it's not some supernatural gore-dripper -- it's about soldiers and a very scary what-if...

2. Non-stop action -- this book will never make Oprah's Book of the Month club, but I would like to name a roller coaster after it -- from the get-go, the action and tension are unrelenting and the doggone book feels glued to your hands. (NOTE: Thanks, Mr. DiLouie -- on my first reading, I finally finished your book at 4 am with sweaty palms and had trouble getting to work on time the next day -- on the second reading, I still couldn't take my time and finished it again in one marathon Saturday reading session.)

3. Better & better -- I've read some of DiLouie's past work and this is by far his best work -- the writing is tight, descriptive without being florid & puffy, and believable -- again, not a book that will draw people together on a Tuesday evening for white wine and canapes, but a kick-ass story that is well-written and doesn't stop til you get back in the station and the lap-bars retract as you put the book down for the final time.

Rock on, DiLouie -- hope you've got more in the pipeline!
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on June 11, 2010
This is one of those rare books that make you tune out the world. I seriously plopped on my couch and did not get up for ten hours except to use the bathroom. This book is a mashup of Jarhead and 28 Days Later. Told from the military point of view, I found it to be very unique, genuine and expertly written. I don't want to give anything else away. If you like this genre, then treat yourself to this amazing story.
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on April 14, 2010
This fictional apocalyptic disease/zombie story picked me up and threw me around. At first, I thought, "Well, it's just another zombie story, it's been done before." But I soon found myself caught up in a unique story of a military unit's battle with armageddon. DiLouie has crafted a well wrought, gripping, fast-paced story. The intensity level of the book rarely flags - so much so that the only reason I wanted to put it down was because it became too intense! Highly recommended for fans of plague novels, zombie novels, and true-to-life military operations novels.
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on April 9, 2011
Is it possible that the streets of New York can be more horrifying for a soldier than the horrors of battle in Iraq and Afghanistan? To the soldiers of Charlie Company, that's exactly the sentiment that begins to manifest every soldier's thoughts as they try to save New York from a rabies-related virus called Lyssa which has become pandemic in a very short amount of time. The virus turns people into violent zombies roaming the street with one intent - as the virus takes over the their body, its goal is to replicate and spread the infection. This quickly turns into an exponential problem, and the government has recalled our troops from every location across the globe to help America's population survive.

With Tooth and Nail, DiLouie manages to combine military action and horror fiction into a realistic and believable storyline. He consulted with a veteran of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division throughout the writing of the book and the military action in the book reflects that knowledge, making you feel as if you are an embedded civilian amongst the platoon. Soldiers vary in character, drive, and emotion, and DiLouie has captured a broad variety of types of soldier actions that one would expect - some soldiers will desert, some will breach the rules of engagement, some will sacrifice themselves, and many question themselves as they struggle with the horror of fighting against their own country's people, infected or not.

The book uses a lot of military acronyms, and there is a handy acronym definition page at the beginning of the book in case you aren't familiar with terms like RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) or SAW (squad automatic weapon). I've read some reviews of the book that felt that this was a distraction, but I disagree - it adds to the realism because that's how soldiers speak - in battle you don't have time to say "Bring your standard automatic weapon, there's an infected combatant across the street holding a rocket-propelled grenade." You'll say "Mad Dog RPG 12 o'clock - hit it." As an embedded, you better learn the lingo quick since you'll lose your cheat-sheet eventually.

The men of Second Platoon are given what seems like a simple assignment: guard and protect a hospital where many of the infected are being treated, and where research is under way to find a means to stop the spread of the virus. Of course, we all know what happens at hospitals during a zombie apocalypse, and this one is no different as things rapidly spiral out of control. DiLouie does a fantastic job writing about the interaction with civilians, both friendly and hostile, and the reader will struggle with the attitudes and decisions of the soldiers as I did - how would I react? Is that what I would do? Again, you'll feel as if you're an embedded part of the platoon.

As the story progresses, the platoon becomes fragmented, smaller, and less equipped to handle the situation they've been placed in. Communication with the higher-ups is spotty, and it comes down to a handful of soldiers trying to escort a doctor out of the front lines, hoping against odds to make it to an evacuation site so the doctor can continue working on a cure. This isn't just another book about the zombie apocalypse - the action is non-stop, realistic, and scary as hell. This book should be on the bookshelf of any zombie or military action fan, because it's one you'll want to save and read again.
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on September 30, 2010
This novel is a brutally realistic depiction of how things might go down for a group of soldiers who try to save NYC from itself when faced with an aggressive pandemic that is turning people into something like zombies. The focus of the story is tight -- dealing only with the point of view of the stranded soldiers and a few other key players in Manhattan. And while this creates a kind of desperate claustrophobia for the reader at times, it only served to heighten my sense of empathy for characters who are trapped in a no-win situation.

The military jargon is thick at times, but the author does a great job of either explaining it for us non-military folks or writing in such a way that you don't really need to understand every word to follow the action. The end product is something that felt more real to me than most other "zombie" tales, and I appreciated the care with language that was taken to make it so.

For instance, there are no pretty girls tripping over and over again while being chased by "undead" monsters. There is no romance forged from the fires of death and destruction. There are no obligatory child/teen characters hanging around to create humor and/or false empathy. There is no dashing, yet super-intelligent professor with a magical cure who saves the day at the end. There are only soldiers and some scientists, all painted with realism and pathos, braving horrible and surreal circumstances in a very familiar setting.

Based on its premise alone, one should realize that this novel is not for the squeamish. But in case you don't, let me repeat: this novel is not for the squeamish. It is highly graphic throughout, on a par with any R-rated movie you'd watch in this genre. At times, you will wish you were wearing a hazard suit while reading it, and you may feel the urge to go take a shower from time to time. But that's just because the author is doing it right. After all, there shouldn't be anything pink and fluffy about the apocalypse.
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on March 29, 2011
This isn't an isolated quiet and lonely zombie novel like so many others. Now don't get me wrong, I love those type of books but a change of pace is very nice. Lots of noise, lots of ammo and very fast paced. Unique to the genre in all the right ways.
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on March 12, 2013
I read Infection before I read this one but I was so blown away by Infection, I had to gobble up anything else DiLouie had written as well.

I am a woman and have never been a soldier and have never been in combat. But I felt like I was there, with those men, dying for the man next to me only I wasn't in Afghanistan or Iraq. I was in New York City and my enemy was "Mad Dog" or the "zombies" infected with the "Mad Dog" virus.

When I say it's like Black Hawk Down, I'm not joking. It's THAT GOOD. And for the record, I couldn't read Black Hawk Down as my husband desperately wanted, because I couldn't "keep track of all the characters." I didn't have that problem with DiLouie. Maybe his characterization is that good, maybe it didn't matter because the book was that good. But this is not just a zombie book. This is a Saving Private Ryan-Gallipoli-every-soldier-takes-his-stand-to-the-end type of book that took me there, to the action, through the real agony of losing contact of central command, of soldiers on their own, fighting an enemy they know in their hearts they can't win against and still they fight.

It was truly amazing.
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on July 24, 2010
A few months back, I received an email from Mr. DiLouie asking if I could read and review his book. At the time I was unaware of all the new projects I would be taken on. I have finally gotten around to reading his book. Big thanks to Craig DiLouie for giving me a copy to review, and also for sending me more copies to give away. Giveaway details will be posted in the near future.

There's something happening in America. A virus known as, Lyssa, is spreading quickly in the Manhattan area. Hospitals have been set up to take Lyssa infected patients only. But with the rapid rate of infection, the hospitals quickly close their doors to any new patients infected with Lyssa.

The US military has been called back from Iraq to assist the situation. When the military arrives they quickly make comparisons between Iraq and New York. The state is no longer the way it once was. The streets are filled with Lyssa infected individuals and they have become hostile. These aggressive Lyssa patients are classified as, Mad Dogs. Now that the streets are becoming unsafe for the soldiers, they are giving orders to fire upon any Mad Dogs. Lieutenant Bowman, doesn't like the idea of ordering his men to fire upon unarmed civilians, but he is reminded that orders are orders and he must follow them.

LT. Bowman follows his orders, and when his platoon is met face to face with Mad Dogs, he doesn't hesitate to give the command. With the increasing amount of infected wondering the streets, it becomes difficult to keep his men safe. Bowman is given orders to retreat and meet up with the surrounding platoons. With no air evacuations or tank assistance, Bowman's men must walk through the city, which is now almost entirely overrun by the infected.

Let me start off by apologizing to Mr. DiLouie for taking so long in writing a review for his book. I know it took longer than anyone could have expected, but now I have finished Tooth and Nail and it quickly became a favorite. I loved the plot, this is the first book I have read that deals only with the military side of a zombie apocalypse. I really enjoyed how real the book felt. All of the emotions were there, I felt the terror in the soldiers when they were told to fire on the infected. Yeah, they were zombies, but at that time they just thought they were sick people who needed help. I really liked that. The character of LT. Bowman was fantastic. He was calm and really took charge of his men. I honestly felt the connection he had between his men, he cared about them and they respected him.

Even though all of the emotions were there, the book did lack in other places. The plot and the emotions were perfect, the dialogue was also well written. However, some of the writing was a bit rough. The flow would be perfect, then I'd come across a sentence where I feel would be better if the wording was different. That's basically my only complaint about the book. Everything else was well organized, and had me wanting to read to the end without stopping. Wait, there is one more thing I'd like to add. When i first started this book it was easy to figure out that the author has military knowledge. He constantly references military terms that are hard to understand if you're not in the military. It was a bit hard for me to follow along with some of the military terms, he does go overboard with them and it gets little distracting.

All of the emotions, and bonds were there between Bowman and his men. That is probably the best part of the book. The action scenes were also amazingly written. When the military first fired on a group of infected my heart raced. I really fell into the moment. This book does come very close to being perfect, the only thing I didn't like was that the flow gets interrupted at times. I will have to give Tooth and Nail, 4 Undead Heads out of 5.
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on March 30, 2011
Can someone please explain to me why Craig DiLouie isn't more of a household name? With the watered-down nonsense that is filling the shelf on the New York Times bestseller lists, it's a shame that a writer like DiLouie has to toil in the shadows. The man knows how to flat-out write! TOOTH AND NAIL, his story of an Army platoon stranded in New York City as a virus that turns ordinary citizens into mindless killing machines, is gritty, violent, addictive and utterly realistic. In fact, it might be the most realistic Contagion story I have ever read.
A virus, known as the Hong Kong Lyssavirus, is running rampant in New York City. The infected, known as "Mad Dogs", turn into mindless and violent killers, ready to rip, claw, bite and kill. The Army is brought in to protect hospitals and other vital buildings, but is soon overrun and are forced to fight for their lives against a growing horde of killers that are only getting bigger. Told almost entirely from the soldiers' perspective, DiLouie concocts a thrill ride that grows in intensity with each page up to the shattering climax. The violence is real and absolutely brutal. I appreciated the way DiLouie brought the soldiers out as real people with real fears and feelings. There are no super-soldier Rambo types. You can feel their anguish when they realize that in order to stay alive, they must kill their fellow citizens.
While I loved the book, a few things stood out to me in the downer department. The story isn't exactly a beacon of originality. Take BLACK HAWK DOWN, toss in a healthy dose of 28 DAYS LATER and a dollop of Robin Cook, mix it all up in a blender and you get an idea of what you are in for. In parts, it played more like a war drama than a contagion book. Some of the soldiers seemed interchangeable with one another, with only a few characters being allowed to truly stand out. In the hands of a lesser writer, this might have hampered the narrative, making it clichéd and hackneyed, but to DiLouie's credit, he never ventures into maudlin mode, and he layers on plenty of suspense to keep the story moving briskly.
All in all, this is a must read. Craig Dilouie is proving to be one of the true great talents in the horror genre. One part riff on the Apocalypse, and one part love letter to the Military, this is a novel that needs to be part of your library.
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on September 27, 2011
One of the earlier reviews posed the question, "How is it that Craig Dilouie is not a household name?" In a word, he still needs alot of polish. What Dilouie does well he does extremely well. His plotting is tense and masterful, his originality is stark and bold, and his ear for dialogue (at least military dialogue) shows skill. What Dilouie doesn't do well though becomes a distraction.

In his effort to tell the story of a military unit attempting to contain a rabies virus that spreads like wild fire amongst humans in NYC, Dilouie hits many highs and lows. His use of the present tense, which to my dissappointment is an ever growing trend in modern horror, does not do this novel justice. At times he fails to keep up the tense which makes it even more distracting. There is also a huge persepective shift that spans a whole chapter that feels like a gimick. Honestly, I had doubts on whether I could finish the novel at that point.

Then came the third act...and OMG was it incredible. Had it not been for the final third of the book, I would have rated this as a two star effort, however, many sins can be forgiven once the plot begins its finale. I found myself breathlessly "turning pages" on my Kindle ignoring the low batter warnings, returning very late from my lunch break, just to continue the breakneck ride. But, sadly, this is still a third...the last third at that; it cannot completely redeem the novel.
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