Book Review: The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

The InfectsThe Infects
Sean Beaudoin
Candlewick Press, September 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5947-9

Nick is just a teenage guy trying to get by in a cruel world. After being sent to juvenile boot camp for a genuine accident, his world is about to become crueller and survival is key. His life as Nero has begun, but can he just sit back and watch as everything around him burns?

Firstly, let me just say, to all you budding authors out there, writing for specific age groups really is an art. It’s a skill that needs to be nurtured, then disciplined before being set loose upon the world; otherwise it will be like an unruly child that is permitted to run amok while their parents stand idly by, sipping on lattes. Therefore, writing conversation down the way you think teenagers speak, is not going to work. It will jar, sound unnatural and will become very irritating very quickly and this is the main gripe I have with The Infects. There were simply too many times where dialogue went as follows:

‘What?’ Idle said.
‘What?’ Billy said.
‘What?’ War Pig said.
‘What?’ Estrada said.
‘What?’ Nero said.

This happening even once in a book is once too many in my opinion but unfortunately for me, it happened a lot. Sentences were often very short and placed list-like in amongst otherwise decent text. As anyone who reads my reviews knows, I hate lists, so having both lists and text like lists will drive me around the bend while I weep for humanity. Another annoying aspect was the repetition of certain jokes. Yes, I got the joke where one of the camp leaders was called Mr Leroy and knew martial arts so everyone called him Bruce. And yes, it was funny when I read it the first time, but I only half-heartedly laughed the second time and kept a straight face the third time and then started to poke at my own eyes with a dirty stick the fourth time. Having your character, (you know, the one with the funny name) continually being referred to as Bruce Leroy every time he speaks gets old very, very quickly. ‘Is that right?’ Bruce Leroy said. ‘Why yes!’ this mental patient said. It reminded me of a child who hears a joke they think is hilarious and will then go on to repeat said joke to every living human possible until they encounter the next hilarious joke and begin all over again. It’s stupid, childish and makes me want to give up on the book, so please, don’t do it.

I guess in parts, reading this book was like trying to watch a zombie pass a sobriety test. Try and picture them as they lurch and shuffle from foot to foot while missing the line by a mile and you’ll get the idea. In this case, I guess I’m the exasperated cop, rolling my eyes at the side of the squad car while said zombie says ‘honestly officer, I only ate the one hand’ (rough translation from zombie nurrrrrrrrgh). As some people are beginning to realise by now, I’m a fussy so-and-so. To get a good review from me for your book really is an amazing feat. Honestly, I really do appreciate how much blood, sweat and tears went into writing your book and I greatly admire you for it but I’ll still mercilessly pick apart each and every mistake, careless technique or delusional style you may choose to employ. It’s nothing personal you see. Simply put, it’s not you; it’s me.

Which brings me to the tipping point. Would I recommend this book to others? Do I think younger readers would enjoy it? Does it make me fearful of a zombie apocalypse? The answer in each case is resoundingly….yes! Teenage readers will most likely find this appealing, especially with its scenes of gore and flesh consumption, not to mention the group of teenage characters all fighting to survive in a zombie-eat-human world. Annoying writing habits aside, this was still a title I wanted to read to the end. I wanted to find out what happened to each character. I wanted to find out exactly how the virus got into the general population in the first place. There is a good story there, you just have to sift through layers of annoying traits before you find it. But once you’ve trained your eye to filter out these blips, to skim over those hideous bumps, you’ll find a story you can really sink your teeth into, rotting flesh and all.

Reviewed by Laura McLaughlin, July 2013.