The Infects

13530957

Author: Sean Beaudoin

Publication: 2012 Candlewick

Pages: 384

Overall Rating: bth_35_zps7a173504[1]

Rating for Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: Nick’s job at the local chicken plant ends in disaster and a stint in a juvenile wilderness boot camp. While there, a zombie infection breaks out, leaving Nick and his fellow delinquents to battle the hordes in a gory and sometimes comedic fight for survival.

Age of Main Character: 17

What I Liked the Most: While The Infects has all the gore and destruction you’d expect in a good zombie story, Beaudoin isn’t afraid to take his book a little further, turning it into a dark commentary on our society’s mindless consumerism as we gorge or way to the apocalypse.

Beaudoin approaches the story with the kind of tongue-in-cheek attitude that tells me he probably had a blast writing it. Peppered throughout the story are various “Zomb Rules” designed to tie into the action and point an amused finger at what’s going on. And hovering over everything is the voice of The Rock – yeah, that Rock, the wrestler turned actor, who lives inside Nick’s head, providing him with an endless stream of guidance and one-liners as he tries to lead his friends to safety.

What I Liked the Least: During the early part of the zombpocalypse, the action is broken up by a regular series of flashbacks. Each flashback had value, adding depth to the story and expanding on what I already knew about Nick’s troubled home life, but they also broke up the gore fest and made it harder to stay focused on what Nick and his compadres were up to.

The language is so heavy on slang, current cultural references and a slick style it was sometimes hard to read. Take this short snippet as a fairly representative example – “Nick didn’t blame anyone, put stock in earbuds and rode the tinnitus train. Tune the kitchen out, tune Metallica in. Distortion, unlike Zoloft, actually worked.” It’s a whole lot of fun in moderate doses, but too much and it can start to feel like a slog.

The last quarter of the book takes a sudden turn, shifting from the violent zombpocalypse to Nick recovering and figuring out what happened and what to do next. Some of what takes place here was hard to fully understand. It seemed to be setting the stage for a sequel (though I haven’t seen any evidence of one), but even for the first book in a series it seems to leave too many questions unanswered regarding Nick’s motivations and what he was planning to do next.   In the end, his final choice just felt kind of bizarre.

How Good was the Action? When the zombies are rocking and the dead are walking, it can get as manic and gory as you’d hope for from any good zombie novel. People get grabbed out of nowhere and have half their face bitten off before anyone can react. Nick feels his options slipping away to nothing and you got no choice but to hold on tight and keep turning the pages. Was it the best action I’ve ever read? No, but it more than gets the job done.

How Engaging was the Story? That depends. For the most part I found the novel more than entertaining enough to keep me plowing forward. But the four flashback chapters did a lot to slow it down, and once the zombie battle is over I found it hard to get myself into the new direction the story took. At that point, it began to feel a little episodic and hard to follow.

Overall Assessment: A fun read, especially if you like your zombie gore with a touch of comedy and heavy dose of slang. Beaudoin hits home with some fairly scathing attacks on rampant consumerism and there were plenty of times when I had as much fun reading The Infects as I suspect he had writing it. But the end felt out of place, like a not entirely successful attempt to take a good zombie tale and make it something deeper.

Profanity: Tons.

Sex: Yes. And there’s also some pretty in-your-face nudity and sexual fantasies.

Violence: Of course. It’s a zombie novel after all, and there’s gore splattered across every page.

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