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Monday, March 31, 2008

"Infected" by Scott Sigler

Watch the “InfectedPromo Video HERE

In 2005, writer Scott Sigler—creator of numerous novels, short stories and screenplays—took publishing to a whole new level when he released “EarthCore” as the “world’s first podcast-only novel”. In 2006, his follow-up novel “Ancestor” was made available on iTunes and became the first audiobook serialized on Sirius Satellite. Since then, Scott’s audiobooks, including “Infection”, and “The Rookie”, have accumulated over three million downloads with that number increasing thanks to his currently airing podcast novel “Nocturnal” and the short story collection “Bloodcast”. Because of his success, Scott has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Business Week, CNet, MacWorld, and the nationally syndicated radio show The Dragon Page, and in 2007 the author signed a world rights multi-book deal with Random House imprint Crown Publishing who is issuing his hardcover debut “Infected” (formerly known as Infection & Infested), which has already been optioned for film adaptation by Rogue Pictures (Hot Fuzz, Doomsday, Fearless) and is part one of a trilogy…

Ever since I first heard about Scott’s book and movie deal last spring, I’ve been dying to read “Infected” to see for myself what all the hoopla was about. I know, I could have just downloaded one of Scott’s audiobooks but I’m oldskool and prefer reading a novel to listening to one :) So I waited for the ARC and having finished it, I can understand why the publisher is excited about “Infected”. It’s just an incredibly entertaining book. I mean instantly I was hooked by the prologue and from there the novel is essentially 339 pages (ARC version) of nonstop suspense and intensity propelled by a combination of ultra-short chapters, constantly shifting viewpoints, and desperate pacing. As far as the actual writing, Scott’s prose is concise and highly accessible, interjected with numerous recognizable pop culture references like Frank Sinatra, Richard Simmons, Die Hard, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Peter Falk’s Columbo, The Shining, Rage Against the Machine, and O.J. Simpson.

Story-wise, “Infected” will at first seem familiar. After all the concept of a lethal, world-threatening epidemic is nothing new—see I Am Legend, The Stand, The Andromeda Strain, 28 Days Later, the Resident Evil videogames/films, et cetera for examples—so there are certain elements that are easily identifiable like the CIA and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) trying to isolate the outbreak without the news being leaked to the press, and Scott’s use of medical & military jargon that recalls
Michael Crichton and James Rollins. Fortunately the author introduces a few new wrinkles into this scenario. One is the disease itself which transforms everyday normal people—even children—into homicidal maniacs, but this isn’t another variance on zombies or vampires here. These ‘infected’ individuals possess unique symptoms like bluish triangular growths and a large part of the story is trying to figure out the nature of this disease, be it an infectious terrorist weapon, a bioengineered organism, a long-dormant natural organism, an alien entity, futuristic technology, or even something supernatural. While the actual answer is not that shocking, Scott does a pretty good job of keeping the reader second guessing themselves and the journey itself is one helluva ride :)

I’m particularly talking about the narrative of “Scary” Perry Dawsey, a former All-Big Ten linebacker at the University of Michigan with serious father & anger management issues who was destined for NFL stardom before a blown out knee destroyed his football career. Now Perry works a lowly job in tech support and through him, readers get an up close and personal look at the ‘triangle’ disease from the moment that Dawsey is infected to the parasites’ evolution, all the way to the final ‘hatching’ and let me tell you that this portion of the book is not for the weak-hearted. While Perry’s narrative initially starts out in suspenseful territory that reminded me of
Dean Koontz or Stephen King, it’s not long before the story ventures into much more violent, skin-crawling terrain. To be blunt, Perry wages war against the parasites—which in essence means his own body—and the resulting battle, both physically and psychologically, is shockingly, disturbingly and intensely graphic. In fact, I kept thinking of the Saw films when reading Perry’s chapters, but even those pale in comparison to some of the things that Dawsey ends up doing to himself. Nevertheless, as uncomfortable as I sometimes felt, I have to say that Perry’s confrontation with the parasites was definitely the highlight of the book.

As far the ending, I knew that a sequel—Contagious—was in the works so I was expecting some sort of cliffhanger, but I thought Scott managed to conclude “Infected” in a manner that leaves the reader satisfied and wanting more. From a negative standpoint, my only real complaint with the book was the rest of the cast who are more or less stock characters, specifically the CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence Murray Longworth; field agent Dew Philips who shares a past with Murray; CDC epidemiologist Margaret Montoya, the lead researcher on Project Tangram; her staff Amos Braun; and Clarence Otto, the CIA agent assigned to watch Montoya’s back. Part of the reason of course is that they play second fiddle to Perry and just don’t have as much face time, but even then it’s obvious that they possess largely stereotypical traits. So, I’m hoping that Scott will address this little issue in the sequel if they return.

In closing, as much as I love reading fantasy and science fiction, there are times when I just want to curl up with a pulse-pounding thriller or a chilling horror novel. Normally for that kind of fix I turn to such established authors as
Dean Koontz, James Rollins, Michael Crichton, or James Patterson, but in “Infected” with its genre-busting blend of bio-thriller, horror fiction and suspense, I’ve discovered a writer in Scott Sigler who’s every bit as entertaining and could eventually become a new favorite...


Mihai A. said...

First of all thank you for the link of this book. Second you made me curious because I'm a fan of Dean Koontz too.

Anonymous said...

Hi Robert,

I'm a big Sigler fan. I loved Ancestor and Earthcore. I should get Infected in the mail today or tomorrow.
Awesome review.

Keep up the great work, dude. : )

Tia Nevitt said...

You make it sound fabulous but damn! That cover just makes my eyes sting! Talk about eye-catching--or eye-stabbing! Whatever your response is, it certainly is effective. Had I encountered it in a bookstore, I would have picked it up.

Robert said...

Mihai, I would definitely recommend giving the book a peek then if you're a fan of Koontz!

Reanimanted, thanks as always for the compliments :) You'll have to let me know what you think of "Infected" when you read it. I'm interested to see how it compares to his other books...

Robert said...

Tia, well I for one thought it was pretty fabulous :) Not sure what others will think so we'll have to wait and see. And I love that cover! It's simple but as you say, effective...

Anonymous said...

I found your site by way of the contest for the books by Lois MacMaster Bujold. I will add a link to your blog from mine. this looks like a site that is a ton of fun. I hope one day to be as good.

Harry Markov said...

Thank you for the link for the book, you know now I will have a great time reading this, somewhere along the road.

I alos have a stupid question. What's a podcast?

Kimberly Swan said...

Between the bizarre cover (and who could pass up taking a look at that?) and the wonderfully disturbing picture you've painted, I'll have to get to this sooner rather than later. :)

Robert said...

Rhyan thanks for stopping by and for the linkage :) Good luck with your blog!

Harry, you're welcome for the link and here's a link about podcasting:

Kimberly, this book might be different from what you usually read, but I'd love to hear your take on it :)

Harry Markov said...

Thank thee kindly for the link, again. I now know and it seems complicated and high tech. I need to get updated on this.

Astral Guardian said...

Well Robert, having heard the original podcast version, "Infection" as it was then, was produced in such a way that you were a part of the experience and the rerecorded "Infected" does likewise. Needless to say, even though you have read the hardcover, the audio version has more. Scott is calling it the "Director's Cut"; 26 pages more of skin stimulating, gore splattered goodness. He doesn't just read the book; he performs it. Without giving much away, the dialog is written in such a style that would make it easy for an audio adaptation. Just hearing a caller make threats to a radio station in of itself is insane. And thanks to Infected, you will never think of "I Got You Under My Skin" the same way. Now, excuse me, but I've been itching all day. Maybe it's doctor time; no bout-a-doubt-it.

Robert said...

You're welcome for the link Harry :)

Astral Guardian, thanks for stopping by and for the wonderful sales pitch ;) Your description of the 'Director's Cut' sounds very enticing. I just might have to check it out :)

bookpublisher said...

Thanks so much for sharing this link, I've placed an order on the basis through Amazon. Thank you.


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