Infection: Alaskan Undead Apocalypse by Sean Schubert is another great title released by…no surprise…Permuted Press. I’ve been a fan of Permuted Press for years, and, while I haven’t loved every book they’ve published, I think they’ve managed to keep up a steady undead stream of horrifying and entertaining stories. I have no idea what Jacob Kier & his crew have been up to recently, but whatever formula they are currently using to select their authors/stories, they need to stick with it. I had said that Hissers by Ryan C. Thomas set the bar for apocalypse fiction in 2012, but Sean Schubert has met that standard & set the mark for the zombie genre in 2012. I thought Schubert’s Infection was one of the best stories that Permuted Press has published since The Morningstar Saga was published.
The beginning of Schubert’s Infection was a fantastic introduction of the source of the outbreak: three children are exploring near their family’s vacation cabin. They discover a “caveman” partially thawed in a glacier. One of the kids is infected, and rushed to the hospital. The child succumbs to his illness, dies, and when he reanimates, he begins to attack those around him. Anyone who is attacked becomes infected, dies, and rises up again. The situation quickly overwhelms the hospital, and as the outbreak spreads into the rest of Anchorage, Alaska, the authorities incorrectly assume they are under attack from terrorists. Usually, stories just hint at hospitals being ground zero, but Schubert shows us just how fast everything can fall apart as soon as the first infected patient enters the emergency room. (I like the change in perspective.)
The first item of Infection that stood out was the setting; I lived in Anchorage for a year (two years total in Alaska, including my time in Adak), and I thought Schubert nailed the descriptions of the area. Someone who didn’t live there could still picture the place easily enough and it’s a refreshing break from Texas & the usual big cities that you find in zombie books. It also gives the reader some hope that the infection might possibly be contained within Alaska…because the rest of the situation is too bleak to hope for much else.
The other thing that impressed me in this novel was the cast of characters. They were a realistic cross-section that you could expect from the population in that area. No one was an expert; everyone had their breakdown moment sooner or later – they are just people who had the sense to run at the first sign of something wrong, and are struggling to stay ahead of the undead mob. Nothing was working perfectly for anyone; they didn’t get lucky. They had to work hard to stay alive, and sacrifices were made. It was about as genuine as you could get, and the best part? No idiots! Although, there is always that one guy who has to be a delusional jerk…
There are two main groups, and both are fortunate to have at least one person who was at the hospital when the outbreak occurred, so they at least know it’s not an act of terrorism. The POV is third person that alternates between the groups, which helps the storyline flow at a rapid pace. (I read this in one sitting, even with a neck injury.) There is just the right balance of interaction among the survivors and confrontations with the undead, and the zombies are scary as hell with a very keen ability to track the living.
Sean Schubert will have even the most skeptical, critical zombie fan coming back for more. I can’t wait for the next installment; this was a powerful start to the trilogy. I highly recommend this to zombiephiles!!