Review of Infection by M.P. McDonald

When the United States crumbles, and services stop, there’s only one thing to do…take your family and run. The countdown to the end of the world begins silently.
No one realizes there’s a deadly illness spreading like wildfire until it’s too late. With few symptoms, victims literally drop dead after a brief surge of energy. Within days, it tears through the population of the United States. Now, faced with the very real possibility of extinction of the human race, Cole Evans has only one chance to save his family and survive: a safe haven on an isolated, hard to reach island. Can he convince his brother that the danger is real and that there’s enough space for his family as well?But can they all reach the island before the lights go out for them…forever?

It’s been so long since I have read a truly great apocalypse story and the thriller aspect to this made it immensely page turning.  Infection really goes to the grass roots of this type of novel, more recently the ones I have read often feel cliched or like a parody of the genre.  From the get go this book is powerful and brings up so many “what if” scenarios.  Whilst our focal point is Cole and his quest, there are also the stories of his son Hunter, and his friend Elly which help to bring home how the infection has impacted upon both urban and rural areas. Sympatico itself is an unusual disease and the manic euphoria experience makes it a chillingly creepy one too and I like how it doesn’t fall into the more obvious route.

Cole’s history of dealing with infectious diseases makes him the perfect candidate to fully understand the impact of what is happening. The balancing act he has to play between prepping like mad and convincing his family he isn’t actually, well, mad is a difficult one for him to manage.  Asking your family to give up their jobs and homes, your child to give up school – all on a hunch? These are topics so often overlooked and I found it really refreshing to get this aspect in a story, the snapshot of time where things haven’t truly hit the fan, but something clearly isn’t right and having to make a life altering decision.  It of course always helps when the one person who can identify things in advance has a handy island bequeathed to them. But that is the focus, and hey, handy islands have to belong to someone!

Elly’s story is the more harrowing of the 3, urban areas often are though and whilst being on the 18th floor of a hotel is great for views, it runs the risk of becoming Elly’s tomb.  Whilst Hunter is on quite the adventure, being in more rural parts makes day by day survival more perilous as time goes on.  I love the juxtaposition between the 3, the inventiveness and resourcefulness they must all come to in order to make their way forward.

There are little in the way of light hearted moments and it’s right that it should be that way, the world has become a very tough place to be, especially when we are at day 1 of the disease, the sparing use of these lighter moments gives it a much truer feel of what the characters are going through.  There are some really harrowing scenes and my heart was pounding in places, really willing the story to play out the way I hoped it would – this is not a HEA though and not everything will go to plan.  The pace and flow of the book is perfect with everything unravelling at a believable pace, great care has been taken to get these things right and it really pays off.

It looks like this is book one of a trilogy and it does round off in a satisfying way whilst also being open ended for book 2.  If you like your apocalypse books to be from Day 1 with a real life feel, you will love Infection!

5*

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