Pros: Excellent example of its genre
Rating: 5 out of 5
William Meikle’s Infestation (S-Squad Book 1) is an excellent example of the military vs. monsters horror genre. Captain John Banks has to take his squad to investigate a Russian boat in Canadian waters. He and his men parachute nearby, only to find a bunch of walruses slaughtered–seemingly cleanly butchered–on a bloody beach. When they reach the nearby Inuit village, they find houses broken into and blood everywhere, with no survivors apparent. Finally they come across a strange, bug-like monster savaging a corpse, and all hell breaks loose. Meanwhile, Chief Scientist Rika Svetlanova hides in the pantry of the Russian boat. She’s narrating the tale-so-far into a recording device so someone will be able to piece together what happened.
It’s nice to have a military vs. monsters story that isn’t US-centric. It gives some variety to the military men and their backgrounds. (Dialects are handled particularly well–they’re conveyed smoothly without making the reading awkward.) The Arctic climate also adds layers of danger and difficulty to the tale. It’s nice that the Russian boat isn’t the stereotypical Russian spy sub. I also enjoyed the fact that Svetlanova isn’t just a female prop–she gets involved in the action, has emotional and practical effects on the story, and is highly involved. This often isn’t the case in this genre.
The characters as a whole felt very natural and interesting. There’s a fairly small number of them (five in addition to the two I’ve mentioned), they have decent personalities and interesting reactions to things that happen, and they interact in interesting ways.
The critters are definitely creepy! They’re pretty simple, carnivorous isopods of unusual size, but that doesn’t make them easy to get rid of! There’s plenty of danger, unexpected discoveries, and nasty injuries.
If you’re in the mood for a good monster story, this is a great choice!
“This is too fucking weird, even for us.”