Pandemic (Infected #3) by Scott Sigler
Published: 21 January 2014 by Crown
Genre/s: Science Fiction, Horror, Apocalyptic
Source: Publisher for review
Disclaimer: As the third book in the series, this review may contain spoilers for Infected and Contagious.
The alien intelligence that unleashed two horrific assaults on humanity has been destroyed. But before it was brought down in flames, it launched one last payload-a tiny soda-can-sized canister filled with germs engineered to wreak new forms of havoc on the human race. That harmless-looking canister has languished under thousands of feet of water for years, undisturbed and impotent...until now.
Days after the new disease is unleashed, a quarter of the human race is infected. Entire countries have fallen. And our planet's fate now rests on a small group of unlikely heroes, racing to find a cure before the enemies surrounding them can close in.
Pandemic is the third book in the Infected series, but it's been a long time between drinks. The second book, Contagious, was published in late 2008, and I have the feeling that perhaps a third book wasn't originally on the cards. The ending of Contagious was left pretty open, but there are quite a few cast changes in Pandemic. It's not a companion novel, as I wouldn't recommend reading it without reading Infected or Contagious, although perhaps others that have read it as a standalone would disagree.
As I loved Infected and really enjoyed Contagious, I was interested to see where Sigler took the story next. As a horror writer, Sigler is incredibly talented and has a tendency to write rather epic novels, and at nearly 600 pages Pandemic wasn't a casual Sunday afternoon read.
Picking up the open threads from the end of Contagious, Pandemic brings back some loved characters from the series and introduces some other memorable characters, both good and bad. The plot itself felt a little bit slower to get going than Contagious and particularly Infected, but once things started developing it turned into an addictive horror novel.
Once again written in multiple third-person POV, Pandemic has perhaps too many POVs - and there are long gaps between appearances for a few characters, to the stage that I found myself wondering at times if I'd missed some key part of the plot.
Familiar characters come back into the story right from the beginning, and in particular, Margaret, has been very much changed by the events of Infected and Contagious. However, I did understand her reactions, even if I wanted to reach through the pages and shake her. Clarence, Longworth and Cheng return too, all of them a little changed but pretty much the same characters that I came to know and love or loathe in Contagious.
There are also new characters to fill some of the voids left after Infected and Contagious, and of those my favourite was the sleezy yet brilliant scientist, Dr Feely (aka Dr Feelygood) who had me smirking with his one liners, and admiring the way he overcame his fears without turning into an amazing action hero when the shit went down.
Unlike Infected and Contagious, Pandemic has a more global view - the virus spreads quickly and devastatingly, and in that way Pandemic feels more rounded than the previous books as it encompasses global reactions and politics. There is once again a heavy focus on both science and military, and at times the weaponry descriptions went right over my head, but the virology was interesting and although I'm no scientist, it felt realistic and was pretty much flawlessly presented. The action scenes are excellent, with a real feeling of desperation and intensity.
Pandemic is an excellent ending to a series that holds a special place in my reading heart - it's frightening, heart-racing horror, with characters that are unique and either likeable or loathesome, and a few that fall somewhere in between.