Random House Audio, 2008
Read by Scott Sigler
Infected was one of my surprise favorites when it came out in April of 2008; its cringe inducing scenes of self-mutilation caused several near misses on my daily commute. Contagious picks up not long after Infected’s ending and continues the battle of Margaret Montoya, Dew Phillips, Clarence Otto, and “Scary” Perry Dawsey against the mysterious blue triangles. While Contagious lacks some of the more horrific elements that made Infected such a fun read the B-move action sci-fi vibe more than makes up for things. More impressions after the jump…
All that isn’t to say that Contagious is tame. No sirs, Contagious has violence and blood in spades. While I will contend that the violence in Contagious lacks the visceral impact of Perry’s ordeals from Infected, Sigler manages to include everything from a man watching his own body rot around him to an operating table scene that made a little bit queasy. Contagious, ramps up the collateral desctruction, the novel’s final chapters a quite explosive; literally and figuratively.
Perry’s fight with the triangles from the first novel has left him with the ability to track down new infected. Unfortunatley Perry’s brand of help, while effective at stopping an infection, does little to aid the person actually infected. Everyone is fair game in Sigler’s work, regardless of age or sex, and our re-introduction to Perry is proof-positive of that. Despite Perry’s own horrific penchant for violence he is a conflicted character that you end up rooting for (at least I did); from and abusive childhood, to a career ending knee injury, to triangle infection the guy hasn’t had an easy life. Perry’s character arc in Contagious is about redemption and his characterization has more depth and nuance than all of the other characters combined.
Sigler doesn’t shy away from cliches, a fact that characters occasionally comment on in the story. Sigler hits on the modern “creepy little girl” cliche that has been rampant in a lot of horror these days. Sigler manages to pull the effect off quite nicely. Rather than focusing on the idea of innocence corrupted Sigler uses the lack of a fully developed moral compass combined with considerable power to potray a true child monster; id unchecked and running rampant. Throw in the fact that an alien parasite has modified her perception and brain chemistry and you have one scary little girl.
Sigler, as usual, is adept at providing his own voice work. While he lacks the presence and vocal tone of veteran narrators he provides a unique character to his vocal interpretations managing accents and tone from character to character quite well. Some of his work is a little over the top, especially his female characters, but that fits with overall tone of the novel as a whole. In truth, I couldn’t really see anyone else doing the vocal work on a Sigler audiobook though I’d be curious to see how a multi-voice (even if it were just some of Sigler’s friends) version would sound.
For a fun, action packed ride you’d be hard-pressed to find a novel as good as Contagious. I can’t recommend the audio book version enough, for those with a long(ish) commute it really makes the trip fly by or, for the excercise junkies, makes the exhaustion of a long run almost dissappear. If you haven’t yet read/listened to Infected I highly recommend you start there. Contagious stands pretty good on its own but really shines when paired with the first book. I wish we got to know more about the alien goals, where they were from, etc. but hopefully we’ll see more in any follow-up novels. If you’re still on the fence about Infected and Contagious I recommend you head on over to Scott Sigler’s webpage where he has been slowly releasing Contagious audiobook chapter by chapter.