Monday, June 23, 2014

Contagious (Infected #2)

For some odd reason, I get Scott Sigler mixed up with Scott Snyder.  It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's excessively annoying and not a little embarrassing.  Both of them write sci-fi/horror, and they're both named Scott ... and okay, so that's it.  Some names just throw me, and these are two of them.

The other embarrassing thing is I kept thinking this book was called Contagion:


Wait, wait.  Gwyneth Paltrow does not die a horrible death in Contagious (although many other characters do).  That's the movie Contagion, which was seriously scary until Elizabeth Bennet (okay, Jennifer Ehle) found the cure but not before Marianne Dashwood (fine, Kate Winslet) died.  

But this is not a post about the confluence of actresses who once starred in adaptations of the works of Jane Austen.  That could be an entirely different post.  This is, evidently, a post in which I ramble and use a lot of italics to talk about Contagious, the second book in Sigler's Infected trilogy.



Warning: Here (and in the comments) there be spoilers for the first book.

Infected, the first book, focuses mainly on "Scary" Perry Dawsey, a former All-American football player whose career ended after injury.  As the book opens, Perry's working as an IT guy (he's actually really smart--no dumb jocks here) and has an itch.  The itch, well, it turns into something bad.  How bad?  How about blue-triangles-with-eyeballs-in-your-skin-that-control-your-mind bad?  Perry eventually develops seven alien lesions, which he nicknames the Magnificent Seven.  As they control him and cause him to murder others, veteran CIA officer Dew Phillips gets put on the case by Murray, the president's highly effective secret-keeper.*  Long story short, Perry has serious daddy issues, is obsessed with being strong and in control and takes a pair of shears (which he names Chicken Scissors) and cuts the triangles out of his body before they burst out (think Alien).  Unfortunately, he's got triangles everywhere.  I mean it.  Think about it.
Dr. Margaret (Margo) Montoya and her CDC team save Perry's life, but he's broken. He can still communicate with other Triangles and their hosts, and he uses this ability to act as a sort of coonhound for Dew and Margo.

This is where Infected picks up.  Initially, I didn't think I would like it as much as I liked Infected.  In the first book, Snyder's characterizations were riveting.  Somehow I both loathed and loved Perry Dawsey.  Dew Phillips is an interesting guy as well--seemingly over-the-hill, yet still ultra-skilled and super-smart.  Infected casts the net a little wider and focuses a bit more on Margo and her team (Clarence, the agent she's dating, Amos, the viral expert, and later on, Dr. Dan).  We also see more of the political scheming and sleight of hand as the new President, John Gutierrez, and his staff learn of the existence of Project Tangram (the military's name for the race to eliminate this alien threat).  Because guess what?  Once the triangles hatch, they converge in isolated areas to build gates.  Big, interdimensional gates.  

It turns out that whatever alien intelligence sent this to our planet sent it in a probe, which has 18 capsules which it can fill with modified strains of the pathogen that develops into the Triangles.  Early prototypes--well, they didn't go so well.  After Perry Dawsey successfully fought the mind control of his Triangles and caused the destruction of a gate, the probe got ticked off (as much as a non-feeling alien biochemical weapons factory can get ticked off).  It creates a nonlethal strain that allows human hosts to network.  By chance, a little Michigan girl named Chelsea Jewell gets the motherload of this strain.  Without going into too many details, Chelsea is one scary kid.  Scary kid books are also good with me, and Sigler pulls this off really well.

Chelsea begins coordinating the construction of another gate, this time in Detroit, and simultaneously Dawsey, Dew, and Margo race to stop her, all while the new President watches, waits, and decides how to contain this threat to humanity.

Sigler's not afraid to kill off tons of characters, which is gutsy, but which also made me sad.  I became rather attached to many of them, and in my opinion, the ones he left over are the least interesting.  But who knows?  Maybe they'll grow a lot in the third book, Pandemic, which I fully intend on checking out tomorrow and just abandoning all my other reading projects at the moment.  I need a nice fluffy sci-fi horror thriller ... as fluffy as that can be, anyway.

Two thumbs up and two words: Chicken Scissors.

BONUS:  When I returned this to the library today (where I work), a coworker picked it up and was going to read it at lunch.  I convinced her to do the whole series.  *fistpump*



2 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And I hope you pick up PANDEMIC, the final book in the trilogy. A quick request: could you put a "spoiler alert" notice in before you dive into the description of INFECTED? The "castrated" part if a big plot point, I'd like to give people a chance to bail out of your review if they're interested in reading it.

    Thanks,

    Scott Snyder.

    Errrr ... I mean Sigler.

    :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Scott! Thanks so much! I need to add a spoiler template to my blog, so I just adjusted it instead! I'm not much of a no spoiler! person so sometimes I need to think about that more as I review.

      Delete