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BCCB starred review *
Beaudoin, Sean The Infects.
Candlewick, 2012 [384p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-7636-5947-9 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-7636-6211-0 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 9-12
Nick’s job at the local chicken plant ends in disaster when he stabs his hand and jams up a conveyor belt, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage. Presuming his actions were deliberate, the court sentences him to a wilderness trek with a group of other youthful offenders, where, on the very first night, his counselors mysteriously turn into crazed flesh-eating zombies. Nick and those few other who haven’t been munched on take off, but before long the group is divided: should they run or fight? Conflict ensues, complicated by the fact that Nick’s crush, who has also found herself sentenced to wilderness hijinks, has been zombie-bitten but hasn’t turned. Beaudoin fans will recognize themes (a sharp critique of unreflective consumerism), rhetorical style (razor-sharp, sophisticated, darkly inflected wit), plot concerns (manic twists, moral complications that are likely unresolvable), and character types (including a tough protagonist with a heart of gold, his sharp but vulnerable autistic sister, and some misguided and evil adults) from his previous works. For those unfamiliar with his work, it’s an impressively cerebral and engaging entry in zombie lit, offering a self-conscious parody of the conventions of the genre that focuses attention on the underlying cultural forces that make the zombie such a compelling symbol in the contemporary imagination. It is the zombie novel only Beaudoin could write, an allusive horror novel that engages in philosophical, social, and humanist critique while providing plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. KC
"Horror goes hand in hand with dark comedy in this wickedly unpredictable adventure, as Beaudoin simultaneously skewers the fast food industry and familiar zombie tropes."
Nick is seventeen, stuck in a dead-end job as a chicken plucker in a nugget mega-factory, and does not think life can get much worse. He is wrong—after a gory accident at work, he is charged with halting production and sentenced to a wilderness camp called Inward Trek along with other teens needing rehabilitation. Rechristened "Nero" as he and his fellow inmates begin the long hike that is supposed to mold them into upstanding citizens, their guards are instead transformed into blood-thirsty zombies. Nero and his rag-tag band of young felons fight to stay human and avoid the ravenous zombie hoard. Nero is aided by a periodic stream of advice from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson that only he can hear, adding to the surreal tone of his struggle. This novel is full of dark, satiric humor (offering a series of "zombrules" and reflections on zombies in popular culture) and irreverent references to punk rock and horror movies. Oddly, the zombies (the titular "infects") do not appear until one hundred pages into the book; some readers may be frustrated by the early pacing, but patience is rewarded with lots of gory action once the zombies make their entrance. The conclusion of the book is brave and unexpected, offering readers a twist in a bleakly memorable ending. Booktalk this smart skewering of the zombie genre to your older teen readers as a gloriously bloody, profane smash-up of Louis Sachar’s Holes (Scholastic, 1998/Voya December 1998) and the film Zombieland, and it will find an enthusiastic audience. Reviewer: Sherrie Williams
"FINALLY! A real, true, blood-and-gore, zombie book! The zombies are actually the ones of lore! You know? The shambling, mindless, human flesh-eating, living-dead? You know? You get bitten and you become one? As a firm and unwavering member of Team Zombie, I have to say that this book rocked! It is all of the aforementioned, but it is also SO much more"
"If you’re in the market for a teenage-zombie thriller, The Infects is one of the most entertaining and artful yet."
"The subtleties of it are what will make you laugh, hidden in a well-timed background element in a greater scene. It forces you to pay attention because you’ll miss snippets of gloriousness if you’re just reading it for what the surface provides. If you like trippy, off the wall tales riddled with snark that will make you laugh and gag in the same sentence, you’ll most likely love THE INFECTS. It brings with it the familiarity of the zombie trope but Sean just comes right on in and fucks it all up. But in a good way, like always. And that’s why I keep reading him. Not only is he a fantastic storyteller but his voice is so epically unique that you can’t help but latch onto it and drool love all over it."
"Beaudoin’s writing style is fresh and unique and he gives us an atypical look at the zombie genre. From characters who are immediately aware that they’re dealing with zombies and how to kill them to the modern take on the genre, there is so much originality to love and appreciate. Of course teenagers would take their cue from zombie films! Dark and gritty, he’s the young adult Chuck Palahniuk."
"I can’t decide what I enjoyed most about The Infects. The writing style, the vividly-detailed gore and violence, the highly amusing characters with their cocky teenage attitudes and smartass humor. It was all fantastic!"
"The Infects is an unusually awesome book that is funny, irreverent, campy and clever. And I love clever. The story is told in a great masculine voice that is very authentic. You want to hear more from Nick/Nero and get his take on things. Where many teen/YA books are geared toward girls and romance, this story will grab both male and female readers a like. Girls will most definitely want to date Nick, and guys will want to follow him into the book and take on some zombies."
"SO MUCH WIN. I knew immediately I would enjoy the author’s voice. It turned out to be exactly what I expected: quirky, dangerous, campy, highly entertaining and just plain fun. It’s not your typical serious zombie post-apocalyptic book, but it definitely has some gory moments as a band of teenagers try to figure out just what the tittlepop is happening in their little slice of America."
"I’m going to…give you some highlights on why this book DOES NOT SUCK."
"Towards the end of the story it takes an unexpected and profound turn. Nero, Petal and Amanda take the steps that will change the world forever. I loved where The Infects started, how it traveled and where it ended up. It’s the perfect combination of crazy humor and profound thought."
"Beaudoin always has the most unique books and this really stood out. It’s more than just a zombie survival novel. It’s sexy, gory and insane all at once, but also really captivating."
"The way The Infected was written…so much love. Beaudoin uses a fantastic mix of sarcasm, repetition of funny examples to accentuate certain points and witty banter between the characters and sometimes within a character as well. I mean his style was just…I don’t even have adequate descriptors. Awesome."
"…readers can dissect this novel and discuss good vs evil in all its many forms for hours and still not come to a unanimous conclusion."
"I agree with Kellee, this is one of the most unique examples of voice that I have ever read. The whole novel exudes voice and energy. I felt like I needed to be running in place the entire time, it’s completely an amped up book."