Audiobook Review: The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

29 05 2013

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2013 Zombie Awareness Month

The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

Read by Nick Podehl

Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

Length: 8 Hrs 47 Min

Genre: Young Adult Zombie Outbreak

Quick Thoughts: Infects is an often bizarre, Pop-punk rock infused outbreak tale told at a kinetic, almost MTV Pop Up Video style that leans to the absurd. Author Sean Beaudoin offers a refreshing change of pace Zombie tale that somehow injected life into a subgenre looking to keep itself alive. Love it or hate it, The Infects is one heck of a rockem’ sockem’ audiobook experience.

Grade: B+

I have never really put much thought into what I eat beyond does it taste good, and how much of it can I jam into my facehole. Not surprising, I have spent my life firmly on the larger side. I would say that I have been battling my weight most of my life, but really, I haven’t put any significant effort into the battle until recently. Yet, I still eat mostly prepared and processed food stuffs, in between my fresh fruits and vegetables. As a single guy, I much prefer soup in a can or food in a box, than the elaborate preparations of home cook meals. I’ve never thought much about what these foods could do to me. Sure, I understood blood pressure and weight and the like, but what about the preservatives and taste enhancers they include. Could this food actually be changing me on a genetic level, pickling my insides, or injecting brain consuming prions into my gray matter?  Probably. Yet, now, maybe I have to worry about it changing me into a ravenous zombie. Damn. I know a well balanced meal included Cheerios, toast, milk, juice and bacon, but do I also need to ask for a side order of melee weapons? This is why I have begun to avoid fast food. Not because of the artery clogging goodness, or water retaining salty deep fried potato sticks, I mean, honestly, if we are going out, might as well do it with the leftover remnants of a Baconator hanging off my beard. My issues is, when the delicious fast food does send a chemical into out brain stems, turning us into cannibalistic monsters, I really don’t want to start off by snacking on the lean veal of a small child gripping onto their Rug Rats Crappy Meal toy, nor do I want awkward pre-tweens, getting their retainers lodged into my hindquarters as the bite into my quarter pounder with cheese.

Ever since being abandoned by his mother at the mall with his sister, Nick has decided its better just not to care about anything. He spends his days at school or raising his sister and often impaired father, and his nights working at the local chicken processing plant, pining for the attention of Petal his punk perfect wannabe girlfriend. Yet, when a destructive incident in the mysterious blue room at the chicken plant has him sentenced to a juvenile camp, Nick believes he has lost it. Now, on a nature hike with a bunch of delinquents, and hearing the voice of The Rock in his head, Nick finds himself in the midst of a strange outbreak of chicken borne illness that when infected, leads to some quite zombie like behavior. The Infects is an often bizarre, Pop punk-rock infused outbreak tale told at a kinetic, almost MTV Pop Up Video style that leans to the absurd. Full of commentary by The Rock, delinquent profiles, Zompocalypse rules and other almost bonus material segments, The Infects is a Quentin Tarantino meets Simon Clark hybrid that readers will either love, or totally despise. Luckily, I fell in on the love side of things. The Infects was nothing like I imagined it would be. In fact, the opening segments dealing with the bizarre Blue Room and the chicken plant was maybe just a bit beyond me, feeling at times as if it was written by Chuck Palahnuik with a head injury. I thought Nick was a great character, and my favorite part of the story was his relationship with his possibly autistic sister. The story itself was a bit scattershot at times. I think there were things Beaudion did that came more from his love of the genre tropes, his desire to be different, and due to his twisted sense of the absurd that were funny, fresh and added much to the experience, but maybe didn’t always serve the narrative. Personally, I didn’t mind that, but I think others may nitpick plot holes, get frustrated with side tangents, and get so caught up with some internal inconsistencies in the story, that they miss the broader appeal of the novel. In fact, at times listening to The Infects was closer to watching an episode of Robot Chicken than The Walking Dead. Yet, there were so many times I laughed, or reveled in a twisted Zombie Trope, strangely dated reference made hip and bizarre alternate history spin on pop culture, that any weakness in the plot was more than willingly overlooked. The Infects was a refreshing change of pace Zombie tale that somehow injected life into a subgenre looking to keep itself alive. Love it or hate it, The Infects was never boring.

The Infects offered a lot of challenges for its translation to audiobook form and luckily they had a narrator with the skills to pull it off. Nick Podehl really impressed me here. At the start, I thought maybe this production would be a bit too absurd for even Nick Podehl to save. I initially hated his voice for Amanda, feeling she felts a little too much like a man trying to do a young girl’s voice. Yet, by the end, that was my favorite part of his performance. Podehl nailed the rhythms of Amanda’s broken awkward speech. I have to say, I was a bit fearful that Amanda would turn into the magical autistic kid who saved the day through some quirky skill, but I thought both Beaudoin and Podehl perfectly captured the malleability of an autistic diagnosis. Then there was The Rock. At first, I didn’t think Podehl sounded like The Rock at all, but when I accepted it as The Rock as he appears in Nicks’ head, I loved it. In fact, The Rock consistently made me laugh more than anything else in this book. Podehl handled all the side trips, strange additions and added materials perfectly, turning what could have been a total disaster of a production into something truly fun to listen to. The Infects, despite it’s challenges, was a heck of a rockem’ sockem’ audiobook experience.

Note: Thanks to Brilliance Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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