"They are good at surviving because they are on the road and they are still alive."
Craig DeLouie's novel The Infection pulls an interesting switch about what the menace is. This changes it from the standard apocalyptic horror story. What starts like a by the numbers zombie outbreak story turns into something far better.
The story is told through character viewpoints, featuring flashback and present-tense points of view. The collection of individuals brought together by the mysterious, strong willed Anne is a ragtag bunch including soldiers, a police officer, a priest, a high school student and a teacher.
The soldiers all answer to Sarge, a veteran of Afghanistan. Sarge and Anne seem to operate as equals at the start. As the perspective shifts, there is no single hero of the book. All the characters are equal participants in the story.
The flashback tool is effective here for giving insight into who our characters were before and during the outbreak. Each faced the normal challenges of day to day life, now brought into harsh focus as they struggle to stay alive.
As we move with survivors in search of a safe place, they encounter stranger threats than just infected humans. The fear level ratchets up a notch.
Other survivors prove less than helpful and we see that our group has a collection of complimentary talents that make them a deadly bunch in this world. These new skills come with physical and emotional tolls and it shows. By the end of the book we see the characters move on from who they were and fully engage in who they've become to survive.
The Infection is a good read. Craig DiLouie raises the action and strangeness up by levels over the course of the book, in convincing strongly written prose. He goes from moments of stillness and calm to breakneck madness at the drop of a hat and no character feels safe or invulnerable. There is some talk of a sequel to this book. If so, I look forward to it.