If you’re reading this… Congratulations, you’re alive. If that’s not something to smile about, then I don’t know what is. ― Chad Sugg, “Monsters Under Your Head”
There are so many things that scare me about the “Infected” series. Not the beasties that could eat my face off. No, that’d be too simple. What I’m really terrified of is that Andrea Speed doesn’t fear me enough not to do things that have the potential to make me weep openly. Hey, she’s done it before and could very well do it again, considering that my love for this bizarre little corner of her world is only mildly insane and entirely obsessive.
Roan’s morphing. Again. But you all knew that already if you’ve been following along on this bizarre Rorschach test of a journey that I look at head-on and think, I should really know what that is, but the image is just this side of, “huh?” And I can’t grasp it. Maybe if I squinted and tilted my head a little to the right I’d understand what the lion is doing to Roan. Or, maybe it’s a matter of what Roan’s doing to the lion. I don’t know, but one thing I do know for sure is this is getting good. I also know another thing: the general public, the extremists, and even some of Roan’s own are still bent on punishing him, or deifying him, for his nature.
And then there’s Holden. You remember him; the guy who never met a social more he wasn’t willing to break, or annihilate, until it weeps under the heel of his derision. Holden, the unflappable man-whore who isn’t above a little lying and cheating and doing whatever he has to do to get results…isn’t quite so unflappable anymore now, is he? Because he’s finally met someone, someone who isn’t Roan, who’s willing to take Holden at face value and doesn’t ask anything more of him than to just be himself, which isn’t always easy for Holden, because who he is morphs according to the circumstances and situation. When Holden let’s anyone see the real him, the him behind all the external trappings and affectations, you can believe that person is someone Holden trusts, regardless of whether he’s willing to admit what it could potentially mean. And he’s morphing again, it would seem. Maybe that’s why he and Roan get along so well; they’re both in a state of constant evolution and are just cynical enough of the world and all who inhabit it that it doesn’t matter whether they go out with a bang or a whimper as long as they’re going out on their own terms and are flipping off the bulk of humanity as they go.
Roan, Holden, Dylan, Scott, Grey, and most of the other usual suspects are back in Infected: Undertow, and you know Roan and Holden are throwing around loads of the general wiseassery they’re so good at. But they’ve got a few cases to solve too, which isn’t unexpected considering how good they are at what they do, even when there are seemingly no clues to follow, and the stench of failure clings like a miasma that almost foils even Roan’s super-senses.
There are so many downfalls inherent in loving a man like Roan, but Dylan appears up to the challenge of nurturing his husband along until he finally believes he’s got something, or someone, a lot of someones, actually, to live for. Let’s hope the lion agrees and deigns to allow him a little more life in his years and a lot more years in his life. Roan is not allowed to simply go gentle into that good night. Why? Because even if Roan ever gets only a small slice of normal in this world, at least it’s a slice worth living and fighting for.
I’d say Andrea Speed dialed Infected: Undertow up to eleven, but that’s so passé these days. So, I’ll give it a twelve. Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It is. Honestly, I can’t decide what I’d base my recommendation of this book on, because there are layers to it that keep peeling away as we get closer and closer to the end. The mysteries; the transmogrification of our badass virus child; the pain and conflict he endures not necessarily for being who and what he is but for who he loves and for all that they suffer on his behalf; maybe I’d recommend it for nothing more than the obscure cultural references and witty banter. I’d even recommend this book for Holden’s story alone, so let’s just say, all of the above.