Monday, February 7, 2011
INFECTED by Scott Sigler
This isn't normally the kind of thing I review here, but what the hell, I enjoyed it, and there's some interesting issues raised by it, so here I go.
So some folks are getting a skin problem, itching like crazy and unable to control it. And it seems as it progresses, they become paranoid and violent, lashing out at those close to them. And when they die, they decompose quickly.
Germ warfare story? Not when author Scott Sigler zooms in on former football player Perry Dawsey, who's stuck in a stultifying cubicle job after a career-ending knee injury. Perry starts itching, then starts finding blue triangular growths on his skin. Then, horrifyingly, he starts hearing voices in his head, voices that appear to come from the growths...but just you wait for when their eyes open...
Dawsey's story is interspersed with the story of the CDC doctor and her entourage who are investigating the disease...and the conclusions they come to are bone-chilling.
It's great fun. One the surface, it starts off as a story of disease and possible bioterrorism (and is obviously inspired by Morgellons syndrome), but ends up in a tale of alien invasion. And it's cool because I've read about how Sigler sought to make the creatures as biologically plausible as possible.
Deeper down, it may be a bit eyebrow-raising for some. Dawsey is a fountain of unresolved rage; he survived an abusive childhood, was known for his savagery on the gridiron, and now has a hairtrigger temper. But ultimately, instead of conquering that rage, it's that very rage that enables him to deal with what's happening to him...even though he does steadily slide into insanity.
And here's something different; I didn't read this, I listened to it. Sigler is super-cool as he makes his books available for free as audio books at the same time they're available in hardcover. At first blush, you'd think this would be self-defeating, but his books are hot sellers, so it works. You can get his books at his site or through iTunes.
I'm only just starting to get into audiobooks in the last year or so, and Sigler's sets a high mark. One of the great things about it is that it's read by the author, and you get the sarcasm when it's intended, you get all the inflections and emphasis when they need to be placed, everything. You're not getting someone else's interpretation of it, you're getting it straight from the fiend's mouth. And it's also surprisingly old-fashioned when you think about it, the experience of hearing the author read his own work in toto. In some ways, it breaks down some of the usual barriers and lets the reader/listener connect with the author in ways that aren't always possible today. Ironically, it's one of those ways in which technology is working to bring things full circle; the primitive, primal experience of having a story communicated orally, bypassing books and written language, is something so lost to modern generations that it seems exciting and new.
It's violent and gory, but also very, very interesting, and there's a sequel, CONTAGIOUS, that I'm just starting on. Look into it, if you can stomach it. I think you can.