Pros: Potentially interesting world
Cons: Details that don’t add up
Rating: 3 out of 5
In K.R. Griffiths’ Mutation (Wildfire Chronicles Vol. 4) (Also available bundled: Wildfire Chronicles: Volumes 1-4), our heroes find an old castle occupied by Darren, a wilderness guide, and the people he’d been guiding for when the world changed. Everything looks great, but there are signs that the people living with him are scared. Also, there’s a thirteen-year-old Infected girl who’s chained in the middle of town. Unlike most Infected, she can speak. And she seems to be keeping the Infected at bay around the town–they’re unwilling to come near her.
John wants to ditch Michael’s group. Rachel’s traumatized and brittle; Jason mostly isn’t mentally present (more trauma), and Michael’s a paraplegic now. Not to mention the two young children who need looking after. They’re tying him down and making his life more risky. On the other hand there are some benefits to teaming up, and John can almost certainly outrun his fellow travelers should the need arise.
I would have liked more information on how the Infected girl is so clear-headed, and particularly why the other Infected are staying away from her. Many of the changing details of how the infection works are inadequately explained or telegraphed.
This installment is of course called mutation. This is where we discover that Victor’s attempt at making the infection skip him (by making it not work on his blood type), actually results in mutation. This is why we’re finding occasional outliers among the Infected who can talk, who don’t really seem infected at all, or who seem to have super-powers. (IMO, Jake’s too powerful.)
There’s a military garrison near our heroes’ new home, and the commander, Colonel Hopper, is your standard 80s-movie issue insane military leader. One of his less brave souls, Nick Hurt, plans to steal the helicopter and escape. We couldn’t really leave the military out of this series entirely.
In a ridiculous example of small world syndrome (which should already be used up by Claire and Michael reconnecting), one of the characters turns out to be Alex/Jake’s bio-mom, although that doesn’t seem to go much of anywhere.
Note: some of the characters in this series do seriously depraved things to other people. If that isn’t something you’re up to handling, then move on to another book.
I semi-enjoyed the series, but I think I’ll stop here with book four. If you aren’t as nit-picky as I am and don’t mind flat villains, then you might like this series more than I did.