Review: “Psychosis,” K.R. Griffiths

Pros: Interesting stuff going on
Cons: Jake is over-the-top
Rating: 3 out of 5

K.R. Griffiths’ Psychosis (Wildfire Chronicles Vol. 3) also available as part of a bundle Wildfire Chronicles: Volumes 1-4, continues our story of the not-quite-zombie apocalypse. Claire–Michael’s daughter–finally shows up, so we get to see her and Michael trying to find each other. Alex is a new character, but he’s really here so his evil other personality, Jake, can throw a spanner into the works. For some reason the bad guys know who he is and how to get him, and have decided that unleashing his psychotic self using the infection would be a good thing. (I’m starting to see why nothing has gone to plan for the bad guys.)

 

For some reason, the Infected are unable to swim. I can buy that with zombies, but we’ve already seen that the Infected in this series are smarter than zombies. The fact that they can’t deal well with thunder at least serves as a nice reminder that they’re sensitive to sound.

Why is it that in nearly any story like this, there’s a parent trying to find their child, and despite probably one-in-a-million chances, they always manage to find each other? At least there’s plenty of tension to Claire’s story; it quickens the pacing nicely. But the plot arc is so familiar that it was a given how it would end. I do love that eight-year-old Claire uses her experience playing Tetris to find her way out of a bad spot.

The Infected are starting to communicate with each other using humming noises, and now they’re developing purposeful herds. There isn’t much about how or why this is happening, but it’s a nice difference from most other similar tales. We find out that even animals are infected–a rat bit Jason, but nothing happens with that. If the infection is zoonotic, shouldn’t we see it passing to humans from animals in addition to passing to animals from humans? We do see interesting variations on the infected, such as a woman who appears outwardly normal but, following a bite from one of the Infected, can ‘feel’ where they are.

Jake is a horrific character. He is straight-out evil. He’s a rapist and killer who’s now been given something like the abilities of the Infected–another truly stupid call on the part of the cabal of bad guys. The story certainly doesn’t assume any intelligence on the part of powerful and wealthy people, which makes it hard to understand how they got to the point they’re at. We’re talking about thousands of people secreted away on nearly twenty bases around the world. That had to take some serious smarts to set up, particularly since with that many people involved it shouldn’t have been able to remain a secret before the world went to Hell.

There are some very good metaphors and similes that struck me as fresh and original. I wish there’d been more of that quality of writing in this installment.

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