Since I consider this one of my "Best Of 2012" I finally finished my review. It scared the pants off me at least five times so it deserves at the very least five stars!
Everyone who enjoys post-apocalyptic fiction should read this book. This is not so much a "zombie fiction" at least in the traditional idea of what we think of when we see zombie in the genre setting. Sure, it has a shuffling, running, cannibalistic, primal, carnivorous flesh-eating horde hungering after any and all humans left in it. Sure there is a group of survivors. But it is so much more. It stirs in a pandemic, a bit of social questioning of "what if", the breakdown of civilization and THEN there are the shuffling, running, cannibalistic, primal, carnivorous flesh-eating horde. It follows the rules and conventions of PA Fiction by dealing with the aftermath and leading us into what is now a series with The Killing Floor (a novel of The Infection) as the second read.
The breakdown of civilization occurs when about 20% of the world fall down screaming and then collapse into a coma, only to wake up three days later hungry, really really hungry and with a hive-like drive to spread the infection! Unlike most zombie novels, or pandemics, there is no patient-zero. It started at the same time, all over the world. If you watch Torchwood you will remember the mini-series 3.5, Children of Earth when all the children in the world would stop and speak "We are coming" in unison? Well... it was a lot like that story, but with everyone not just the children and no warning on who and what was coming. It does make you question where the "infection" is coming from though? Or is that just my geek radar (*wink* uh-ah-ah...spoilers, Sweetie)!
Post apocalyptic stories are at the top of my list of genre reads. I love the fictional "Fisher Price" Sociological and Psychological exploration of what happens to the survivors, their culture and society and watching as they try to come up with and explore the question of how to rebuild their society. How do they do all the little things we take for granted on a daily basis, such as their morning cup of coffee, or showers, or not dying of a scratch they received while running away from the horde! The Infection explores all of this in such a manner it grabs you and does not let you get away til it is done.. and then? Well then the author throws in surrealism of the aspect of "The Other" in the form of this unknown virus that has caused the collapse of society.
Viruses mutate, we hear about all the time in the news. Each year the flu virus has to adjust it self to the variance of flu cropping up. They are not a tangible threat to us, they have no face, they are but a wee bug trapped in a petri-dish. But this virus and it's mutations? Somehow I do not think most of these will fit, especially the Towering Things. What Craig DiLouie makes these mutations tangible, in the forms of moving, horrific, surreal monsters, "The Other". For those not familiar with this concept, in the sense of literature, the other, or otherness, is an exploration or labeling of difference. Mary Shelley did it with Frankenstein, the monster was "the other" being the physical representation of the monster within himself, still it is the same concept. Another good example in horror writing is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the other is inside and with this story it comes out in a tangle form as Mr. Hyde, (author) even plays on words with calling "the other" Hyde. DiLouise takes the mutations out of the petri-dish and adds them to the cannibalistic infected and what comes next.
It takes a lot to frighten me now days. Just like everyone else I am desynthesized for a variety of reasons, including the fact we are inundated with horror on a daily basis and we have Hollywood one upping itself with the "SAW" syndrome. I suffer from PTSD and I mention this only because it is not stories or my reading subjects that usually trigger these things, but moments, events and incidents that happen around me here in the real world. To affect me to the point of having a PTSD attack it usually has to be something like I mentioned earlier this summer with (book from NP). This book was terrifying! And as I mentioned above, zombie or horror book like this should not have any such effect..except this one did.
I was still suffering from pneumonia at the end of winter during my immersion in this tail. I was not feverish, just sleeping a lot. Which means I would fall asleep when reading a book, a lot! I call it dream reading because I just keep the story going straight into a lucid dream. Not good when the group I was reading about was on the verge of becoming lunch for some mutation. I ended up having three solid PTSD attacks, and guess what? I cannot WAIT till I have time to read the second one. If a horror read can do that? Well bring it on. No I am not masochistic.. ok not when it comes to my mental health that is. But I will be prepared and no reading before bed!
Seriously could not put this book down, and if I had not kept falling asleep only to be dragged into nightmares of pure terror and delight, I would have read it in one afternoon. It was heart stopping, sweat popping scary as shit and an incredible intelligent and tasty horror read! Grab it and The Killing Floor (a novel of The Infection) (the 2nd in the series) especially if you love having pants scared off of you and enjoy it! Seriously, why should you read it? It is one of the best stories you'll ever read examining not only the collapse of society but gifting you with a cross-genre pièce de résistance that sinks it's claws, teeth and stingers into you and not letting you go! It's a zombie horror. It's a possible alien nightmare*wink*. It's an in your face blatant examination of humanity under way to much pressure.