C. G. McGinn


Ramblings about Books and Writing

Flat Characters

Reading Books:

Pandemic, the third and perhaps final installment in Scott Sigler's Infection series must be what happens when an up-and-coming-author-turned NY Times Best Seller reaches for the stars and gets a tragic third-degree burn in the process. Scott, I admire your previous works, and the methods you used to sell your wares still has me held in perpetual awe. How you marketed yourself through the medium of podcasting is, in a word, remarkable. Not everyone can do what you did, despite its simplicity and the high availability of the technology.

But damnit Scott, would it have killed you to not rush the third story in a series that first hooked me into the Sigler universe?!?!?!

The book was broken up into parts. Part 1 was probably the best out of the entire novel. The reason being that it was probably written on the heels of Contagious, which in my opinion was the better of the three stories. Part 1 felt like it was attached to Infection and Contagious, which is a good thing when you're writing a series of books. There was actually character development in Part 1. I was actually starting to feel something for Margaret Montoya and Clarence Otto, -two characters who seemed to always get second-billing in the previous stories, when compared to Dew Phillips and "Scary" Perry Dawsey.

But once Book 2 began, all the care I could ever possible hold for these characters went right out the window and fell into a fire, destroyed like many of the story's settings, as well as the story in its entirety as well.

As a fan of the Matrix trilogy, I'd be the first to admit that character development was by and large two-dimensional. In fact one of those life-sized cardboard cut-outs of Captain Kirk found in your local comicbook den of all things in geekdom had more depth than the characters in The Matrix movies. But Scott, you made me care so little about every single character in Pandemic that by the end I was almost rooting for the virus to destroy everything. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the point of a survival story to get the reader to feel something for the would-be survivors so that when every hardship happens, they are jolted back to the edge of their seat in terror of their potential demise, and anticipation on how they're going to get out of this one. There was none of that. I can't even say the characters were simply unlikable. There wasn't enough development of them to feel strongly one way of the other. The only characters who came close to some form of development, (and only because of their presence in other stories) were Clarence Otto and Tim Feely. But too much time was spent making huge brush strokes on the disaster as a whole, paying far too little to character development. I'm sorry. I went into this expecting to like this book. I was sorely disappointed. Read it if you want to finish the trilogy, but don't expect much from it.

Up next: The Historian 


Writing Books

Not a whole lot new to report. I'm writing Chapter 5 in longhand. There's something almost intimate about writing this way, -with pen and paper. There's a connection that is often lacking when writing on a computer. I don't know if the ideas just flow better, if there's a subtle barrier between the words inside my head and typing them on a keyboard, or if I'm less easily distracted from surfing the web. But it's getting there.

I started reading the revisions out loud. There is a crystal clear voice to the narrative in Chapter 1. That voice can be heard in the Chapters that follow, but some polishing is required for it to be at the level of the first Chapter. Reading out loud also makes it clear where the flow is stifled by too many words, complicated descriptions, or awkward storytelling.

It's a long weekend so maybe I will get some solid hours of writing in next time.