Activist, writer, sex-positive feminist, single mother, sandgroper, grumpy old woman.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

REVIEW: Scott Sigler - Infected


From the blurb on the back cover:
“They dropped from the atmosphere like microscopic snow. Billions of seeds, smaller than specks of dust, spiralling down from the heavens. A few survived, and began to grow...”

When the bad guy is a vampire, an axe murderer, or some other external entity, you at least have a chance to run and hide. When the evil is growing inside you, spreading through your body like a sentient cancer, there is no escape. While this book is chock-full of blood, gore and all manner of violent amputations, it was the idea of being trapped and betrayed by your own body that unsettled me the most.

“Now three people face a race against time. Dew Phillips, an agent with a classified unit of the CIA, and Margaret Montoya, a government biologist, must try to stop a modern plague that drives its victims to insanity, murder and suicide.

And Perry Dawsey, an ex-footballer in a dead-end job, must race to find a cure for the rash that has appeared on his arm. And his back. And his neck. And which is getting bigger.

And then the voices start...”

Perry Dawsey wasn’t a particularly pleasant person before the infection. Abused by his wife-bashing father as a child, his pro football dreams dashed by a knee injury at the height of his career, the Perry we meet at the beginning of the book is already a bitter and twisted loser with an anger management problem. And it only gets worse from there. By the end of the book, as we watch the demise of a female ‘infectee’ through Perry’s eyes, his callous disregard for her suffering is nothing short of brutal.

And yet...I still liked him. I still wanted him to win. No matter how sick his thoughts or actions, you can’t help but recognise the hopelessness of his situation and understand that he has no ‘good’ options available to him – only varying levels of bad and much, much worse. Kudos to Mr Sigler for crafting such a complex and likeable ‘monster’.

A number of reviewers have compared Scott Sigler's work to that of Stephen King, but I'd be more inclined to liken him to Clive Barker. Sigler's character development is far superior to King's, with even the least significant players, right down to the dead and dying, being treated to their very own backstory and individual personalities. I liked that I could feel the pain of disposable victims, cheer on nameless soldiers, and genuinely mourn the loss of people who had only appeared two pages earlier.

Scott Sigler is charismatic, smart, charming, mischievous, eloquent and intense – and all of those qualities are reflected in his writing style. The story is fast-paced, the gore is plentiful but not gratuitous, and the underlying paranoia and psychological torment left me feeling unnerved for days.

Infected is book one of a trilogy. The second book, Contagious, is glaring at me from my bookshelf, gnawing at my insides, demanding to be read immediately. The final book, Pandemic, is yet to be released.

If you can't find his books in store, Infected, Contagious and countless other novels and short stories are available in the form of podcasts and audiobooks - FOR FREE! - at

Scott Sigler's fans call themselves 'Junkies' and I can see why. I'm hooked.


  1. Thanks for giving it a read, and I think you should follow up with the sequel, CONTAGIOUS. Margaret Montoya's character arc isn't just limited to INFECTED. See what you think!

  2. Scott: As you can see, I've updated the review for public consumption and wiped out my grumble about Margaret. Please don't take my feminist rambling to heart - the fact that she got under my skin is, in some ways, a kind of backhanded compliment. She was written SO WELL that she was real enough in my mind for me to dislike her...if that makes any sense.

    Can't wait to see what happens in CONTAGIOUS. I'm totally snowed at work at the moment, so I'm refusing to allow myself to start reading it just yet. That said, I've been spending WAAAAAY too much time listening to your podcasts.

    Damn you and your totally addictive crack! x