Infected by Scott Sigler

Scott Sigler is one of those new fangled podcast novelists who is revolutionizing the publishing industry.   Sigler offered audiences his first couple of novels free to the whoever wanted to download them.  Through hard work and shameless self-promotion, Sigler got his name out there, drew in audiences and created a network of 30,000 plus rabid fans who couldn’t wait for the next insallment or novel.

Eventually, the publishing industry took notice and signed Sigler to a contract to put his stories in the old-fashioned brick and mortar stores.  And unlike some first-time authors of this kind, Sigler wasn’t going out in paperback or a trade paperback.  He was going hardcover with a full-on marketing push and blitz.

The first major label publication is Sigler’s popular story “Infected.”  Not only because it’s one of his better books, but also becuase it’s creating the universe that Sigler plays in other novels.  Hopefully the blitz and the publication will create new fans for Sigler as they realize what many of his podcast fans have known for years–the man can write one hell of a novel.

“Infected” is an alien invasion story, of sorts.  Every-man Perry March’s body has been invaded by some kind of alien virus.  It starts out as a rash, but slowly evolves into something worse, to the point that the virus can communicate telepathically with Perry.  The organisms are slowly turning into something, something sinister.  But what they are and where they came from aren’t exactly know to Perry.

Meanwhile, a government team is trying to find a connection between a set of seemingly well-adjusted people who suddenly go mad and on a killing spree.  One connection is the crazy person become suicidal and their bodies decay quickly after death. 

These plot threads slowly and inevitably come on a collision course.

The first thing to warn readers is that “Infected” is not for the faint of heart. Perry’s attempts to get the sores out of his body become more and more intense as the story goes along.  This is not a book to be read while eating or even if you’ve eaten lately or if you’re thinking of eating later.  It is, however, a great book to lose weight by reading.  Sigler finds the perfect balance between giving enough information on what’s unfolding and allowing our imaginations to fill in the rest.

The portions of the story with March are the most compelling of the book.   Sigler seems to channel Stephen King or Richard Matheson in finding the everyman who is in some bizarre circumstance and trying to figure out how to react to it.  March’s descent into madness works because Sigler lays out the journey and the decisions that eventually lead to his actions.  That said, you’ll never look at chicken scissors in quite the same way again. 

Where the story does drag a bit is in the governmental pursuit of the virus.  While March’s story has a definite beginning, middle and end, the story of what the virus is and the pursuit of it feels more like the opening salvo of a larger storyline.  If you’re looking for a lot of answers on that front, you’re going to come away being disappointed.  “Infected” clearly leaves itself open for a sequel and I just hope sales justify the next installment of this series.

Of course, I guess even if they don’t the good news is that Sigler would still deliver the novel via podcast.

But why not pick up the book and encourage them to give us more?  At times, “Infected” is a white-knuckle thriller that will keep the pages turning and there are certain scenes that will huant you long after the final page is turned.  It’s a bloody, dark, violent gruesome affair and one of the best “first novels” I’ve read in a long time.  Some day we may all look back and say, “Oh yeah, I read Sigler back when….”

Get on board the train now.  You won’t regret it.


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Filed under review, science fiction

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