The Infects by Sean Beaudoin [Review and G!veaway]

Publication Date: September 25th, 2012
Candlewick Press
Format: ARC, 369 pages
RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars
A feast for the brain, this gory and genuinely hilarious take on zombie culture simultaneously skewers, pays tribute to, and elevates the horror genre.
Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an “Inward Trek.” As if that weren’t bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of “infects” shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate “Zombie Rules” almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back. Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a delight to read — whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten — and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.

So, check it.

This book is far from perfect. There are ambiguities in the story itself that the author chose to leave unexplored for whatever reason he deemed necessary. Even so, I gave this book five stars and I am going to attempt my very best to tell you why. The ratings for this book on Goodreads puzzles me; but for once, I see a role reversal of some sort. Usually, I’d be scratching my head because of a book’s history of high rating in which I disagree. This time, however, I’m on the flip side of the coin. 

The Gist: Troubled teens serving 3-6 months in a reform camp. Genetically enhanced, chemically induced chicken. Zombie apocalypse. Think – Lord of the Flies with zombies killing kids and no (human) kids killing kids. Think – Zombieland but funnier. Think – This is Not a Test without the angst of a suicidal teenager. Makes sense?

The Review: Well, shit. I think I’ve touched my last KFC original recipe fried chicken. Scrap that. I think I’ve touched my last piece of chicken EVER. Sean combined humor and gore in a way that you’d realize you’re not supposed to be laughing at the sad circumstances in which people – both young and old – were dying in the most bloodied, spectacular way. But hey, I’ve never been one for normal reactions anyway.

There is a subtle brilliance in Nick’s wry, more often, sarcastic voice. It was full of mockery and potshots against the society as a whole. If I were an intelligent reviewer or a much deeper reader, I’m sure I can connect the bee hive mentality of the zombies to those of the teens roaming the caf, quad and hallways of their education establishment. But because I’m not, I think I’m gonna go with what I know here and just give you some highlights (in bullet form, no less) why this book DID NOT SUCK.

  •  Nick/Nero. Socially awkward, quiet but bad-ass.  An unassuming hero who only ever wanted what other sixteen year-old boy would: to finally man-up and speak to a girl he’s been jonesing with for a while. To not have to work the night shift at a chicken slaughter house so they won’t get evicted…or to not have to worry about his little sister who prefers the company of a hand-held game and to have her speak normally. Lastly, for The Dude to finally act like The Dad.
  • There is something unequivocally disturbing intelligent about Nick’s outlook on things. I could literally fill this review up with musings and observations that are most often funny, quirky and true. 
  • The build-up to the gore-fest was genius. You’ll more than likely get bored with the first fifty pages of the book because you’d think nothing is happening. But I digress; all the events that lead up to the contagion and its source is like background noise as you read through Nick’s banal, boring, and cumbersome life. Chances are, you’d probably ignore the signs if you’re not paying attention.
  •   Violence, blood, gore, brain matter, exposed intestines, creative ways of killing zombies, seemingly hormonal zombies (see Swann) and even more hormonal boys (humans).
  • The Rock. Yes, the wrestler…”If you smell-el-el-el-elllll what The Rock is cooking…” appearing as the inner voice of reason and kick-assery in Nero’s head. Just imagine how freaking awesome this book would be in FILM. And seriously? As I read through The Rock’s parts, I was imagining the flare of his nose and the waggles of his brows while he more or less called on every single one of Nero’s bullshit.
  •   The opening went like this:
The neighborhood was trashed, funeral pyres in the distance burning against a raw pink sky. Half the street was in rubble, from Thompkins all the way to Main. The high school was gone.

Sounds like a nice set-up for a post-apocalyptic party, eh? Well, it is and it isn’t.

Verdict: Reminiscent of Shaun of the Dead, the Infects is fun as it is gory, funny as it is thought provoking. If you’re a fan of zombies in literature, this offers just enough change (humor) in the long line of books with similar subject matter. It was like watching a dark comedy with zombies in the co-starring role.

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