Saturday, 7 June 2014

Case Of The Crazies

What's the most terrifying apocalypse you can imagine? Zombies? Huge earthquakes? Alien invasion? How about an alien invasion where a virus is released that turns its victims into bloodthirsty psychopaths? That last one does it for me, and it's the basic premise of Scott Sigler's novel Pandemic, the final novel in his Infected trilogy. These books have been among my favorites for a very long time, and I couldn't have been more excited when I heard that Sigler was releasing the final novel. So far, it's one of my favorite books of the year. Smart, tense, thought-provoking, horrifying, and extremely exciting. What more can you want from a book?

Sometimes the simplest covers are the most effective.
The Infected trilogy began with Infected, when humans across America started going on random killing sprees. The disease spread until the country was forced to drop a nuclear bomb on one of its own cities. It was believed the disease was eradicated once the bomb was dropped. Except... a small container filled with the disease was dumped into a lake, and now those germs are starting to spread, and the chaos is beginning all over again. It's up to a small group of scientists and soldiers to work together to prevent the strain from infecting world, before the damage becomes too far gone to repair.

Remember last week when I was talking about Dead Ever After and how I feel that if a series is ending, it should end in an explosive way? Well, Sigler's Pandemic does just that. There are many explosions, nail-biting action, and not everyone will get out alive. I remember reading the second novel, Contagious while I was in Cuba one year. I would come in my hotel room after a long day in the sun, get comfy in bed, and read the book with enthusiasm. The story drew me in immensely, and was one of those books that's virtually impossible to put down once you start it. A similar thing happened while I was finishing Pandemic. I went to work earlier than I intended, started reading, and didn't stop for almost three hours. Yes, it is that good.

It wasn't just the pulse-pounding action that drew me in. There are multiple story lines and perspectives, all of which range from heartache to homicidal fury. When you read the feelings of one of the infected, you feel a surge of terror at how this person's mind has been twisted beyond saving. There were some gut-wrenching parts that will stick with me for a long time, and make me seriously question myself when I see someone roasting a pig on a spit.

The characters are all extremely well written. Past heroes Margaret Montoya and Clarence Otto have returned, but their lives aren't sunshine and rainbows anymore. It was interesting to watch Margaret's downward spiral, as she was partly responsible for the catastrophic deaths at the end of Contagious. Just as interesting was Clarence's willingness to follow her, desperate to bring the old Margo back. There were also new characters I enjoyed, including Doctor Tim Feely, who was a bit of a self-serving ass for the first little while, but who completely changed under the line of fire. The next person I enjoyed was Cooper, a man strangely unaffected by the disease, but who might not have the sanity to hold himself together.

Sigler is a very smart writer. He's clearly done his research on the scientific and military aspects of his story, making it real and believable. He explains everything in a clear way, so you don't need a biology degree to enjoy the story. I really liked the way he incorporated social media as well. It's a huge part of the book, and deeply effective especially since that's how society seems to be communicating these days. All of this dedication and the way he structures his writing is what made him one of my favorite authors the moment I started Infected so many years ago. I love his writing so much that I'm going to read his series about an alien vs human football tournament, and I don't even like football.

So who would I recommend this to? Well, everyone, but especially people who enjoy smart books with science, readers who enjoy books involving military action (because who doesn't love the SEALs?), and horror fans. I might not recommend it to readers who have a weak stomach. I don't have one when it comes to fiction of any kind, but there were some parts that had me saying "Eww" a few times, a look of disgust on my face right before I said, "Okay, what happens next?" So if one or all of the above sounds like your thing, or you're just looking to read a damn good book series by an incredibly talented author, this is the series for you. Just re-think that pork-roast before you get started.



  1. Great review! Infected/Contagious/Pandemic were all brilliant reads.

    I discovered Scott Sigler's writing just over a year ago, and since then he's fast become one of my favourite authors. I love how all his characters are truly distinct, and not just slightly different takes on the author's psyche.

    You'll love the GFL series. I too knew nothing about American football, and started reading it on a whim. A few months later I've convinced all my friends to read the series, and bunch of us even bought Krakens GFL jerseys to wear around...