The Plot: So, Nick Sole is working at plant that produces fast food chicken. It’s a dead end job, but he’s not really a slacker — he has to help support his family, since his mom left, his dad doesn’t do much of anything (not since he lost his job at the same factory) and he has a younger sister that doesn’t quite have Aspergers. Bad luck and a problem at work leads to him being arrested and sentenced and before you know it, he’s in a van with a lot of other juvenile delinquents, headed to some nature hike to make him a better person, with the nickname Nero.
Then, the zombies attack. Does a van full of teenage criminals, without any weapons, stand a chance?
The Good: The Infects begins with a “gotcha” moment. Nick and his younger sister are fighting zombies, and just as you’re impressed with the nine year old’s fighting skills, gotcha! They’ve been playing a video game. Instead, Nick is just living his normal, boring, trying to make ends meet life. His biggest worry is trying to get up the nerve to do something about his crush, Petal Gazes, who he sees at both work and at school.
The Infects is funny and knowing; it expects the reader to be up on their zombie culture. Chapter headings include Don’t Fear the Reaper and All Along the Watchtower. Pages are blood-spattered. Even before a full-fledged, people-eating zombie appears before Nero, things are happening in the background that a reader will pick up on. A news report in the background talking about cows that have been torn to pieces. A woman with unfocused eyes walks by, growling and snapping like a dog.
A bite of a zombie infects a person; hence the nickname and title, The Infects. But what is the source of the prime infection? What starts it? And what does it mean? Of course, none of that matters, not at first, as this bunch of teenage boys on a mountain try to figure out just what to do in the face of a zombie attack. Along the way, they meet up with the van of female teenage delinquents, and guess who is in that van? Guess? If you said Petal, you’d be right!
The zombies are frightening and scary, the boys are both resourceful, brave, and foolish, and I wondered just where The Infects was taking me. Forget about twists and turns; it takes expectations and turns them upside down and sideways and I loved every moment of the weird, scary, funny, terrifying trip. When I got to the end, I thought — well, why not?