"Infected," Scott Sigler

Pros: Fascinating plot; extremely engrossing; some great characters
Cons: Very graphic gore
Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Infectious spores in the atmosphere have landed on a handful of humans, and some of them have taken root. As they spread throughout the human body, they grow into blue triangles under the skin and send fibers snaking even up to the neurons in the brain. Eventually, their hosts become paranoid, psychotic killers. CIA agent Dew Phillips and CDC epidemiologist Margaret Montoya race to find the victims and figure out what’s going on, while former football player Perry Dawsey decides he isn’t going to take crap from anyone—including a bunch of crazy alien growths and the government spooks chasing them.


 

For some reason I’m addicted to weird bio-thrillers. Unfortunately, good ones are hard to find. Robin Cook and Michael Crichton are reliable sources, but their characters and writing style can leave something to be desired. Thankfully a friend (my co-reviewer, Rene) pointed me toward Scott Sigler, whose books turned out to be everything I could have hoped for.

In Sigler’s Infected I found a perfect mix of science, horror, page-turning action, and fascinating characters. The science does a great job of using real-world material as a starting point; if you want a tiny preview, check out information on Morgellons, a syndrome thought to be a form of delusion. Like most good bio-thriller authors, however, Sigler jumps from there to a horrific sci-fi thriller ride of speculation on what Morgellons could actually be.

The horror material gets pretty visceral and graphic. I wouldn’t classify it along with modern “torture porn” because it serves a purpose in the story rather than being bloody for its own sake, but I definitely don’t recommend this book to the squeamish. There’s also plenty of action; I couldn’t put the book down once I started, and I read right through lunch.

The character development, however, is what truly surprised me and pulled me in. I’m not used to seeing great characters in bio-thrillers. In this case, however, there were a couple of characters and interactions that I raved at my husband about for a while last night. For one, I loved the interaction between Dr. Montoya and her CIA handler, Agent Clarence Otto. It defies half a dozen stereotypes, and Otto ends up being the catalyst for fantastic character growth in Montoya. Then there’s the giant football player, Perry Dawes. Sigler does a masterful job of creating the nigh-impossible: a character who does horrific things, yet remains sympathetic throughout.

If you enjoy biological thrillers, or sci-fi/horror blends, and you aren’t squeamish, then I definitely recommend Sigler’s Infected. It’s a fantastic addition to the genre.

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