167. The Infects by Sean Beaudoin
Publication: Candlewick (September 25, 2012), ARC, 384pp / ISBN 0763659479
Genre: YA Horror/Satire
Read: September 10, 2012
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Summary from Amazon:
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.
I really like zombie stories, because they’re almost like dystopian stories1 but with lots of interesting body horror stuff. The nice thing about dystopians is that they showcase all the terrible stuff people do to each other and then present a solution in the form of a wily teenage girl or whatever; with zombie books, you get all that but in a very physical form. People are LITERALLY eating each other, turning each other into monsters and terrorizing their loved ones and so on. And nobody’s safe! ANYBODY could be turned into a zombie, even by accident, and all in all it’s pretty terrifying.2
That’s all great stuff; The Infects, however, is less about the body horror and the terror (although there is SOME) and more about the satire and social commentary and stuff like that. Which is great, if you like that sort of thing. It’s EXTREMELY funny in that dark humor sort of way, almost like Vernon God Little but aimed more at teenagers than adults. The humor comes from the absurd and the mundane made horrifically-over-the-top (the chicken!), and while I don’t always enjoy that sort of humor I can at least appreciate it.. I particularly liked the ending, which is so clever that I won’t talk about it in case I spoil it for anyone wanting to read The Infectsfor themselves. Here’s a hint, though: celebrity rehab centers.
That said, I’m not in love with The Infects. I think I just prefer my satire to be more along the lines of a Terry Pratchett novel than anything else. I wasn’t overly fond of the writing style, either. Basically it’s not MY kind of book, know what I mean? When I think of it, I think “meh.” Not a nice thing to think, maybe, but then again I’m not obligated to love every book I read so there.
If I look at it objectively, it’s probably something like a 4 bird book. If I look at it from my own personal taste thingy, it’s only a 2 bird book. I think other people, people who aren’t me, obviously, will really like this book and the things it brings up and how those thing concern modern teenagers and the world they’re growing up in, and also there are zombies and that’s always fun, and to those people I say READ IT. You’ll like it!
To people who’re like me, idk, try it out if you like. It’s short and very action-y once you get past the first act and if you don’t like it you can always put it down. Plus, zombies.
It was okay.
Joyous Reads: “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.”
Bites: “Reading this, though, I couldn’t help but think there was some kind of message here, about over-processed and genetically engineered food, unhealthy eating habits, complacency in what we’re being forced fed. Messages aren’t something I picked up on in other Sean books so it took me aback a bit. Couple that with the relatively toned down (for him) style and I think it was a bit different from what Sean usually writes. Not as wild and with more of a purpose, however slight. Still incredibly enjoyable but veering off the path a little.”
Wandering Librarians: “It had the same kind of “fuck it all” attitude. The characters make lots of snappy comebacks, even when they are faced with attacking zombies. It’s all very tongue-in-cheek, pithy, snarky, and other words like that. Usually I love that. But somehow, I find it grating the way Beaudoin does it. I got tired of it in Wesley too. I was tired of it by the time people started into zombies, which wasn’t even half way through.”
Here’s a nifty book trailer!
The author’s photo comes from Goodreads. It’s not mine! Book cover comes from Amazon. It’s not mine, either.
- usually there’s a crossover between the two, anyway. See: Feed, Ashes. ↩
- More terrifying than a regular dystopian society, I’d say, because with those usually you’re not in danger of turning into a despot or whatever if you aren’t already inclined to be one. Usually you’re going to turn into a freedom fighter or something instead. That can be exciting in its own way, but I’m tired of that storyline and zombies, thankfully enough, haven’t gotten boring yet. ↩