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Zombie Mutations in “The Infection” by Craig DiLouie

The Infection
by Craig DiLouie tells the story of six survivors traveling in an armored vehicle, while trying to find a safe refuge, after a mysterious virus infects millions of humans. The infected people collapse into comas; when they wake up, three days later, they attack all the non-infected. After just a couple of weeks, some of the survivors discover that the Infected are mutating into something much worse than zombies. The main theme that is woven throughout the storyline is the violent transformation of humans into monsters.

“There were things in the garage, Sarge. Fucking monsters. Dark shapes that flitted around the cars, always just out of sight. Then we saw one…”

This novel made me think, “This is what happened to the rest of the world, while everyone was reading about what happened in the grocery store in “The Mist” by Stephen King.” I know I’m not the only one who has made this comparison; some other reviewers have even mentioned The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I understand why, but I think DiLouie goes into far more detail with his characters’ suffering than King or McCarthy. The story is told with third-person narration in the present tense; flashbacks provide the personal backgrounds of each of the six survivors. Their reasoning and motivation for their current behavior becomes quite understandable, after only a few chapters.

“They have all done the things one had to do to survive. They have all killed people or they would not be here.”

I usually try to imagine myself in the world that I am reading about, but I wanted no part of this setting. Living infected hordes are one thing, but DiLouie describes abominations that would rival HP Lovecraft’s leviathans. He goes to nightmarish extremes when pairing the brutal twists of the viral outbreak with the amorality of various people that the survivors encounter. Of course, even though I felt mentality assaulted by the end, I loved reading very moment of this traumatic horror novel.

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