BY SEAN CLARK
Author: Scott Sigler
Three Rivers Press, 2008
Best ebook deal: Fictionwise
This is one of two mass-market books I picked up for a recent bus trip. Unlike Kronos, Infected turned out to be exactly what I expected when purchasing it: a graphic and bloody thriller.
Basically there’s this weird infection people are getting that makes them really itchy, then these weird triangle marks appear all over their bodies. Then they go mental and murder everyone they can before offing themselves. The government is going crazy trying to A.) stop what they perceive to be a terrorist bio-attack and B.) keep it under wraps.
The triangle marks, we learn, are alien seedlings, spawning in human bodies and controlling their minds a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The main plot line of the book focuses on former college football star Perry Dawsey as he battles for control of his body and mind against the creatures growing within him. Perry is a big guy with deep-seated anger issues, and he is able to withstand much more pain than the other victims we hear of. Most of this pain is self inflicted, as he tries to wrest them from his body.
I should mention that the book is extremely violent and quite gruesome at times, so if that’s not your thing you should probably stay away. The writing is not particularly good, yet it has a very cheesy, action movie charm. A few lines to illustrate what I mean:
This guy made him want to toss his hippocratic oath and pick up a glock instead.
and when an alien spawn, freshly torn from a human body, is flung across a room it sails
like a LeBron James jumper swishing through the hoop.
So while this book is as far from literary as you can get, it correlates nicely to campy horror movies. Pacing is a bit of an issue though, especially when the book switches to the less-developed secondary plot. This features the government scientists and agents trying to track down and stop the mysterious epidemic. At times it provides a welcome break from the manic Dawsey chapters, but as the book approaches the climax, Sigler explodes the relatively contained action into an opening-and-final act of an alien invasion involving a dimensional gate being opened near Ann Arbor. It tries to do too much too quickly and ultimately feels tacked-on, or forced. It all happens so quickly it might as well been ommitted. The strength of the book lies in the will-power battle waged by Dawsey in his apartment, so when the book shifts gear it becomes more than a little run-of-the-mill.
If you like campy violence (including brutal murders, mutilations, and a graphic depiction of self-castration) and cheesy narration, and you aren’t up for anything remotely literary or intelligent, you might enjoy this book.