"Contagious," Scott Sigler

Pros: Fascinating plot; one or two interesting characters; neat story and medical stuff
Cons: Characters went downhill since Infected
Rating: 3 out of 5

Spoiler Warning: Since this is the second book in a series, it will be impossible to avoid spoilers for the first book, Scott Sigler’s Infected.

 

A new president immediately faces his first crisis: an alien infection on US soil. Sophisticated engineered parasites have been altering human behavior, causing people to kill their own friends and family, then flee to remote areas to build strange gateways. So far US forces have managed to keep these gateways from opening, but the alien force has just upped its game. Starting with a family in remote Michigan, a new batch of two separate kinds of parasites takes hold: some are the same as before, while others are designed to defend them. A seven-year-old girl becomes the super-intelligent, powerful queen of this hive, combining a vast interlinked intelligence with the temperament of a spoiled child.


 

Scott Sigler’s Contagious is the continuation of the story from Infected. Unfortunately, while I found the medical and scientific aspects just as fascinating as before, the characters definitely took a nose-dive.

Dr. Margaret Montoya and Agent Clarence Otto, in particular, went from being unusually interesting characters straight to stereotype-land. They recovered in the end of the book, but by then it was too late to avoid the majority of the frustration associated with them. Chelsea, the little girl, acted too much like the stereotypical possessed or overly-powerful little girl, with only her developing super-intelligence to set her apart in any way. Otherwise she reminded me very much of the little boy in a certain Twilight Zone piece—incredible power combined with a little kid’s unfettered temper. The government people making decisions at the top also exist entirely in stereotype-land up until a few tidbits at the very end. However, I enjoyed the dynamic of Perry Dawsey and Dew Phillips; once again, Dawsey is the unlikely central character. Unfortunately in this book, just about everyone else fades into the background and gets short shrift.

While the medical and scientific aspects are still excellent, and some of the horror is still quite good (Sigler has a knack for entirely-appropriate yet terrifying gruesomeness), other attempts at horror fell flat. In particular, those associated with Chelsea often didn’t work out well. The tone was just… off. They felt more like carnival sideshow freak bits rather than actual horrors.

I really wanted to give Contagious a higher rating, partially due to how much I enjoyed Infected, and partially due to my enjoyment of certain aspects of the book. However, other parts definitely dragged this book down.

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