Reviews for The Infection
Silent Will chapter 36 . 5/11/2016
A round of applause is well-deserved...for many reasons. For starters, major props are in order for sticking with this story even though you started it years ago. That is true dedication right there, and the fact that you eventually finished a novel-length tale without giving up is incredibly admirable. It’s awesome to see that you still have the persistence to see your vision through, like you did with the Seminary Gang way back in the day

Also, you and Soggy Soul deserve some joint credit for co-writing a story that went together seamlessly. By that, I mean I never would've been able to tell that two people wrote this together if I didn't know any better. I'd imagine that's a real challenge to try and blend two writing styles together in such a way that it seems like a cohesive work by one author, rather than a start-and-stop, let's-add-on-when-we-feel-like-it joint venture between two authors. So well done to you both for that as well.

Now, onto the finale—I hate to say I called it, but somehow I had the feeling that Ramsey or Jack wouldn’t be making it out of this alive. But at least Ransey was able to put a stop to General White and give the jerk the painful death that he so very much deserved. It was actually a really fitting way for White to go, as well. As for Jack and Janie, at least it looks like they have something of a normal life now in wake of the Infection coming to an end. And, of course, it was really sweet of Janie to name her son after his deceased father. The (esoterically) happy ending seemed natural and not forced, so I have no gripes about it other than that it was a bit on the abrupt side.

For my overall thoughts, I’ll do what I did for Forest Frenzy and break them down into “praise” and “criticism.” And also like before, I’ll get the bad stuff out of the way first.

-Even though I got attached to them and were pulling for them by the end, I didn’t get as attached to Janie, Ramsey, or any of the other characters like I did during Forest Frenzy. Maybe it’s because imagining myself in the middle of the woods and stumbling into adventure is easier to identify with than being in the middle of an apocalyptic zombie infestation, but I just preferred Marshall and Megan to Janie and Ramsey. I think the former two characters had more personality (well, okay, more personality than Ramsey did, at least until the end.)

-I was so bummed out that General White wasn’t seen more once he was established as the bad guy! Unless I’m wrong, there was that scene where he was revealed as the story’s villain right around the time that Hoffman got killed, and then White didn’t show up again until the end, for a very short while before Ramsey ripped into him. It was cool that he was constantly mentioned and it became clear just how much of a mastermind he was, as well as how Raymond and his team were growing increasingly suspicious of him too. But I would’ve definitely loved to see more of General White.

-Some of the character-driven (rather than action- and plot-driven) scenes towards the end dragged on just a teensy bit too much. It was a great idea to have several chapters of character development in between the action scenes, but in some of the chapters—particularly the later ones—I felt like they had gone on a bit too long. Perhaps having the characters do something besides looking for lousy food and eventually screwing (multiple times) would have added some variety. That scene with them taking that frigid bath in the lake comes to mind.

Those are the main bits of criticism that come to mind. Now, onto the part that I (and probably you) like better:

General White was a great and genuinely scary bad guy. Have I mentioned that already?

The way you developed the relationship between Janie and Ramsey was very well-done. Like I said in a previous review, it felt very real and believable. They took the time to get to know each other and divulge their own histories, and whenever they talked about their misfortunes in the past, it never came across as overbearing. I was never saying, “Yes, yes, your family is dead. You’re bummed out. I get it.” The few times Janie’s bad family life was brought up, it was more of a reminder about where she’s come from, and less of a cheap attempt at getting the reader to feel sorry for her. The way she handled her own traumas, and the way that Ramsey handled his, were done realistically and in-character.

When your imagery was good, it was REALLY good. I haven’t looked back at any of your late-2000s work since….well, the late 2000s, but I don’t ever remember the action scenes in those stories being nearly as vivid as they were here. The fights were brutal and violent, and they were never dragged down by an overabundance of description, or because you made them long for the sake of being long.

Aside from some small issues I had with the breather-scenes, I found your pacing to be pretty spot-on. Neither the action bits or the character development scenes dragged on anywhere for too long, and they were spaced out at very digestible intervals as well.

So all in all, this was an enjoyable read. And congratulations again on finishing it after years of apparent starting and stopping! I fully intend on reading some more of your stories, but things are a little busy for me right now. But in the words of Ahnold, I'll be back.
Silent Will chapter 33 . 5/4/2016
So now that Janie has found her very much not-dead brother, she has some legitimate family support to go back to if she survives this ordeal. (But counting Ramsey and her unborn child, she might actually have more family now than she did at the start of this story)

Just one little thing for clarification: when Chuck says he’s going to kill General White, Ramsey and Janie are okay with it. Maybe I missed something, but if General White gets killed, won’t that put their whole plan of cutting off the Hind-Mive into jeopardy? Doesn’t he need to be alive for them to administer the “cure”? Or if the Hive-Mind goes offline, so to speak, when the host (i.e., General White, unless there’s a plot twist coming) dies, then what’s the point of having the cure in the first place if a bullet to the head from a safe distance will suffice just as easily as an up-close injection? It’s totally possible I missed something, but that just confused me.

Also, Jack’s quite the cool brother. I was half-expecting him to want to punch Ramsey’s lights out for knocking up his sister (then again, he only JUST found out at the end of the chapter, so maybe he’s still in shock). Or, the *other* half of me was expecting him to turn out to be evil, as stronger brothers often are (though again, he only just stepped back onto the scene so who knows if he has anything planned).

So the stage is set for a grand finale: Ramsey, Janie and (probably) Jack, vs. General White and his undead army of children. I’d be shocked if at least one of the good guys didn’t get killed. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out—and, if our protagonists win, I’m very curious to see what they’ll do after saving the people of New Chicago.
Silent Will chapter 30 . 5/1/2016
The moment they mentioned using Janie’s period as a way of determining the approximate time of the month, I had a feeling that it would instead end up indicating that she had gotten knocked up during her escapades with Ramsey. So now an unborn child is being thrust into this whole mess, and Ramsey seems completely clueless about all of this. That certainly makes things more intense. I’m genuinely wondering what’s going to happen. I know your work occasionally gets a little dark, but it would be crossing over to a whole new level if Janie were to get hit in the stomach during this upcoming battle. I don’t *think* you would do something like that, but, then again, this has been a pretty dark story already. (Your collaborator, though...)

Speaking of dark—Ramsey sure handled it pretty well when he found his brother’s corpse, although I’m not sure how probable it is that the corpse’s face would still be clear enough that Ramsey would be able to identify him as Raymond. I’m no expert in human decomposition, but unless his body was deliberately preserved, I doubt that there would be any flesh left for Ramsey to have even seen a face at all.

As for the poison/antidote/solution that will ruin the Hive-Mind…I get why administering it to General White would ruin his ability to control the zombies, but why would injecting one of his children work as a viable alternative? Maybe it’ll be explained letter, but since administering this “cure” will determine whether White wins or loses, a little clarification from Raymond besides “Giving this to his children will work too…we think,” would have been helpful. Unless I’m missing something, how would “curing” a subordinate zombie affect the hive mind enough to disrupt its communication with all the other underlings?

Either way, we’ve reached the climax of the story. Let’s hope all of Raymond’s hard work to find the cure won’t have been for nothing. (Also, an equal amount of hope for Janie’s unborn child)
Silent Will chapter 27 . 4/27/2016
I would have thought that Janie and Ramsey would be busy trying to stop General White, but clearly they’ve found *other* ways to keep themselves busy. I’ve never been in the midst of an apocalypse myself with some zombie-controlling madman about to zombify the last remnants of a population, but I think I would personally be more focused on averting disaster in that regard as much as I could instead of having sex (although it evidently doesn’t take them very long). Then again, between Janie’s failed high school relationship and Ramsey’s time in the military with a bunch of other dudes, I’m sure neither one of them has gotten much action, and they probably aren’t expecting to live much longer, so I can at least understand why they’ve spent so much time going at it when there are far bigger things going on.

I will say this: you’ve done a great job altering the dialogue for these two characters. Their conversations have gone from being formal, impersonal and a basically prolonged way of saying, “Well this whole thing sucks,” to gradually sounding much friendlier and happier. It’s definitely clear through their conversations how much more comfortable they are and that they’ve really taken a liking to each other.

These have been a slow few chapters, but it’s done a lot of good for the development of our two main characters.

Also, good job explaining Ramsey’s sad past (as well as the little blast-to-the-past for Janie) and conveying the sadness and heartache without making it too over-the-top. I’m sure you and I both know several writers who would spend an entire chapter focusing on how angsty Janie would have been to have found her old teddy bear.
Silent Will chapter 24 . 4/24/2016
It was only a matter of time before James—er, excuse me—Ramsey and Janie got it on. You developed the progression of their relationship very well and believably. It was certainly much more logical (for lack of a better word) than something out of a movie where the two people have barely shared five words across one scene and suddenly they’re in bed together. I also liked how it slowed things down a little bit, especially considering how action-packed the few prior chapters to these ones had been. It gave the characters some breathing room. (By the way, I like how Janie pointed out she knew nothing about Ramsey, as well as his name. That hadn’t escaped my notice, either.)

As for White’s plan, about trapping everyone aboard the ships…damn. That’s actually REALLY clever. I had almost forgotten entirely about those boats once it became clear that Hoffman’s plans (as well as Hoffman himself) were going belly-up. VERY well played, sir. It’s going to be a tall order for two people to stop a zombie-controlling general from loading an entire population of people aboard some ships, but I have faith in these two. Ramsey knows what’s doing, and Janie’s got spunk. (By the way, maybe I myself have lost my mind, but I don’t consider Janie to be “insane” or anything like that. Given all the trauma she’s been through, I think she’s handled everything rather well.)
Silent Will chapter 21 . 4/20/2016
I think I’m going to love General White as a villain. Granted, his monologue about “the next step in evolution” and turning everyone into a “big happy family” did feel kind of at odds with everything else that’s happened so far, but it was nothing that would’ve ruined his character. He seems like a totally badass villain so long as he got all the ham-fisted speechifying out of his system. I thought Pons made for a good bad guy, but General White is striking me as someone genuinely scary and dangerous. I mean, the man can control zombies who are also his family. That’s pretty awesome yet disturbing.

Anyway, Ramsey isn’t impressing me too much with his intelligence here. I mean, taking an elevator in the midst of an emergency? Not recommended, but whatever. Drinking lots of wine on an empty stomach, though? Tut, tut, tut. What did he think was going to happen? Let’s hope a horde of White’s “family” don’t come rushing in while they’re still stumbling around with a throbbing headache.

Also, is that some blatant sexual tension between him and Janie? If so, they should consider themselves lucky that they woke up from the wine with all of their clothes on.

P.S. Alright, I'll acknowledge that making an extremely difficult morally-challenging decision would be enough to cause most non-sociopaths to eventually crumble, and Hoffman was very clearly not a sociopath. But the way he was brought down still struck me as very sudden and easy.
Silent Will chapter 18 . 4/17/2016
I must say, Hoffman went down surprisingly quickly. I would’ve expected more umph from a hardened military guy who thought that putting thousands of people in harm’s way was the best means of saving the rest of the population. Then again, I guess there’s only so much you can do when you’re on your own, your plan has been figured out, and there are almost a dozen guys pointing guns at you. I thought breaking down and crying seemed a little much, though. I get that he’s incredibly ashamed now that his secret is out, and thinking about his murdered family probably isn’t helping. But I still contend that he gave up and broke down a little too quickly. If he wasn’t going to even bother defending himself against their (correct) accusations, I would’ve expected someone like Huffman to have taken it a bit more like a man.

But enough about Hoffman. Time to focus on tracking down General White and getting *him* to fess up to his role in this disaster. Also, Cullenwhale has some role in this as well? I knew it!...Then again, it was kind of obvious that something shady was going on with him in the first place, so I guess I shouldn’t pat myself on the back too much for that.
Silent Will chapter 15 . 4/10/2016
Well THAT was gruesome. Rex gets decapitated, and then Janie comes face-to-face with the zombie of her mother? That’s…damn. Granted, I don’t read zombie fiction or watch zombie movies, like, ever, but that was something I don’t think I’ve ever come across. Brutal.

Also, I really enjoyed your description of the battles and the violence. It was quite vivid. Also, well done on taking a character’s death and making it fast and impersonal, rather than turning it into a melodramatic moment while a bunch of deadly zombies are all over the place.

So Ramsey and Janie are finally going to be in this together, rather than having the story alternate between following one or the other? Cool! Not that you did a bad job jumping between the two stories, but it did get a little bit confusing to constantly be switching gears, especially since the story only followed Janie and Ramsey for relatively quick spurts before jumping back.
Silent Will chapter 12 . 4/6/2016
I’m not really digging this Jack fellow. I mean, sure, he’s strong and resilient in the face of now being an orphan, but he’s not exactly sensitive or supportive of his sister when she could clearly use some help during this time. Also, it sounds like that guy who probably wasn’t an electrician was installing a camera in their wall? I must say, if that was the case, the guy picked a pretty stupid time to try to sneak in that drill-job. Couldn’t he have waited until he knew for sure Janie wasn’t around?

If Hoffman really is setting himself up as our antagonist, he should probably put down the Pons playbook of rounding up an entire population and moving them to somewhere else. And moving them to the frigid landscapes of Canada where the zombies couldn’t survive…I mean, I get the logic, but at least with zombies you can defend yourself with a gun, even if you’re an emotionally vulnerable person (as Janie taught us). But no amount of guns can keep you safe from cold weather. Then again, if it really *is* just a matter of time before the zombies overrun everything, then heading up to a frozen area where lots of people will “probably” die is better than sticking around New Chicago where they will “definitely” die if Hoffman’s prediction turns out to be true.

This is quite the pickle for the people of the “great” city of New Chicago.
Silent Will chapter 9 . 3/30/2016
Nothing says giving people hope and inspiration for survival in a post-apocalyptic hellhole than by having a bunch of undead start swarming the ceremony during a highly anticipated speech. Poor Janie is turning into quite the involuntary action girl here. Is it my imagination, or has she kicked more butt so far in this story than Ramsey has? She certainly has more pluck than he does, though I guess that’s to be expected since Ramsey’s main goals so far have to just been an impersonal killing machine while deliberately seeking out assignments that will put him in contact with the lowest amount of people.

So Hoffman is the guy that Ramsey will be going after? Considering that the story is barely out of its first act, I find it hard to believe that all the problems will end with Hoffman…unless of course he created this situation with the weakened barriers for some reason, and he gets shot, and the rest of the story is Ramsey and Janie trying to fight against the ramifications of his actions?

I must say, I like Janie. I actually find her kind of funny and charming. The way you wrote her stage-fright mentality was very well done. Being less afraid of being out in the open and fending off zombies than she is of public speaking is a surprisingly human response. Not gonna lie, at this point I’d almost rather the story focus mostly on her.

But I’m sure you’ve got big plans for Ramsey as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll do to Hoffman. Something tells me Ramsey isn’t the kind of guy you’d want to tick off.
Silent Will chapter 6 . 3/23/2016
[i appreciate the courtesy of not assuming I'd review another story after Forest Frenzy, but I'll at least stick around for the remainder of this one. Also, if it makes you feel better, none of the struggles with finishing this story were evident in these first few chapters, though they I did think they felt a bit more like your older worst than Forest Frenzy did. Either way, if something really strikes me as problematic, I'll mention it. And if it's something that you wrote years ago that you realize now is a mistake, then so much the better-although that kinda nullifies the point of my review. ANYWAY...]

I think I'm spotting some archetypes in your newer works: A quiet lone-wolf type fellow who’s good at what he does has no intention of finding a girlfriend, and he meets a girl with a lot of attitude and spunk?

Comparisons with Forest Frenzy aside, I like where this is going. Ramsey and Janie are coming across as likable in their own ways, so once again, good job establishing the two central characters. Janie is evidently something of a badass. Although I was wondering—as dangerous as these undead may be, is it really so rare in New Chicago for a civilian to be able to shoot two zombies? I would expect shooting the undead to be a fairly common occurence, even with that inmate incident that you briefly alluded to. (I can imagine one of these politicians saying, "We can't let a few unfortunate accidents prevent us from protecting ourselves.") Or maybe the militia is just so good that they normally keep the undead away.

I’m not sure how I feel about Cullenwhale. I don’t know why, but there’s just something about him that strikes me as slimy or insincere. I’m always skeptical whenever a guy appears early in a story and offers something nice (like a better home) to one of the leads early on. If there was indeed a conspiracy about letting down the barrier so the undead could march into the city, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cullenwhale had something to do with it.

Also, a protagonist named Janie Monroe? Is that supposed to sound similar to President JAMES Monroe? Or was that just a coincidence?
Silent Will chapter 3 . 3/20/2016
Based on your last message, were you expecting me to disappear after finishing up Forest Frenzy? Well done remembering that I go in for the "Young Adult" more than sci-fi/apocalyptic stories, but the description to this one intrigued me enough to give it a look.

So, I see you're starting the story off with a bang. Always a good technique. At first I thought the juxtaposition between Ramsey fighting off…*something*, and the cutbacks to Janie in the factory were kind of distracting. But once I saw that the two narratives were actually aligning, I found the juxtaposition to be pretty clever.

I’d comment on the characters right now, but obviously not enough time has been spent with them for me to form any sort of judgment. I will fall back on my old gripe, though: a little more description would be appreciated. It’s just a little preference of mine, but I would like to have some idea of what the characters look like, aside from the fact that they’re “young.” I’m not saying you have to go so crazy with the description that it bogs down the story, like some authors are prone to doing (*nervously glances around*). But a few specifics might’ve worked better. Then again, the story’s barely off the ground, so maybe there will be more to come later.

One more thing to say off the bat: MAJOR kudos for sticking through and completing this story. It’s awesome that you didn’t get discouraged just based on the fact that it took you years to finish writing it. That in itself is pretty admirable.
LDF chapter 3 . 2/14/2014
[Chances were it was just a rodent; a rabbit that had some kind of death wish coming out from the safety of the inner city. It was nearly impossible for anything to make it from the wasteland past the force-field barrier into no-man’s land.]

The first part implies that rodents and rabbits are the same, which they aren’t, so be careful. Another would be a general question in regards to the force-field itself. So it doesn’t differentiate between different organic lifeforms? I can imagine that being a real pain, animals constantly passing by it and setting off needless alarms.

[dropping the frail radio. It shattered on the floor.]

The radios are made of glass, apparently. This is really serious, as you don't want something so important break so easily.

Janie having a gun while the other workers don't never really amounted to much. At first I thought the exception was because she sat near a window, and is used as a sniper, but there's never really much of an explanation for why she has a gun in the first place.

The battle scenes were nicely done, with enough tension, though at this point I wonder what kind of zombies these are.
LDF chapter 2 . 2/14/2014
Not a bad start, though it's a tad bit too short. It feels more like a brief introduction to the central characters, and stops before anything happens.
Savvy'sGut chapter 3 . 12/17/2013
Neat imagery. I shall read more when I have the time.