Marc and Dana review Infected: Prey (Infected series, book 1) by Andrea Speed. (Published by DSP Publications, October 14, 2014, 384 pages)
Infected: Book One
In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.
The murder of a former cop draws Roan into an odd case where an unidentifiable species of cat appears to be showing an unusual level of intelligence. He juggles that with trying to find a missing teenage boy, who, unbeknownst to his parents, was “cat” obsessed. And when someone is brutally murdering infecteds, Eli Winters, leader of the Church of the Divine Transformation, hires Roan to find the killer before he closes in on Eli.
Working the crimes will lead Roan through a maze of hate, personal grudges, and mortal danger. With help from his tiger-strain infected partner, Paris Lehane, he does his best to survive in a world that hates and fears their kind… and occasionally worships them.
First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, June 2010
Marc – I started reading this book on July 21st, 2013 in a buddy read with two friends from the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads (Brandilyn Carpenter and Tanja Rac). All of us had heard amazing things about this series and couldn’t resist the lure of a dark & gritty shifter mystery series with very different rules. We decided to discuss the book after each 4 chapter segment and thus I can share my thoughts, even though I read the book a long while ago. It was fun to read back over my comments after a few years passed and after reading books 3-8 this past year, pretty much back-to-back.
I will weave in 3 unedited excerpts from my email comments with reactions I had directly after reading certain chapters. I have chosen only comments on early chapters of the book and have not included some of the more revealing twists I talked about, but I want to give a spoiler warning since I will reveal important aspects of the main protagonists’ back stories.
This series has grown into one of my favorite series. Period. Of all genres. However, you should know that there is a big focus on the mystery aspect of the book. The romance is there and I loved it, but this isn’t primarily a romance book. It is a paranormal mystery and the main character happens to be gay.
Email Comment: Book One; Chapter 1-4 on 7/23/13
It’s pretty clear from the beginning that this is a somewhat darker story, but I love the mythology that is slowly being built and the tone of the story. It’s more like those classic werewolf stories with elements of horror – than most of the m/m shifter books I’ve read. But with the cats, it gives a fresh update to those – kitty crimes indeed! Looking forward to the rest, though I have a strong feeling it’s gonna get darker from here.
The story is broken down into two books and there is one mystery in each. At the time I hadn’t read anything comparable in the way the world’s mythology was built, but I think readers can compare it to Charlie Cochet’s ‘Thirds’ series, just MUCH darker and with a lot more grit. The humor is black and sarcastic, there is more violence and it feels more real and depressing, but in a very gripping way. I felt like I was right in the story and even though I know there is no virus that turns people into cats, Andrea Speed wrote this story in a way that makes it seem possible. There is not magic that turns people into animals in a pain-free and instant transformation. There is a sexually transmitted disease that ends in pain and blood, often dead and always with a shortened life span. People pay a huge price for the ability to change forms. They are disciminated against, hated, misunderstood and have to deal with the terrible pain until they either accidentally kill someone and are taken out or die much too soon.
Email Comment: Book One, Chaper 1-8 on 7/23/13Okay, so what kind of themes do we have here? … Corruption (ex police guy), pedophilia (rich cult guy), descrimination (against gays and infecteds), cultists, bug chasers (ppl who want to be infected), missing person, brutal murder cases, bad, abusive childhood … jep, it’s dark all right.Despite all what’s happened it still kind of feels slow to me, but I love that the MC is smart and actually figures stuff out 😉The bug chasers are kind of creeping me out, since I’ve learned there are actually people like that. In my “Contemporary American Photography” class we watched the movie “Inked Kenny” about a gay photographer who makes photos primarily of tattooed bears of the gay culture. Some of the people he photographed in the movie were HIV positive and talked about people wanting to be infected with the virus to belong to the positive community. Kinda makes me sick. The people in this book wanting to be infected with the shifter virus reminded me of that. Considering one comment of the MC about sex spreading the virus, I wonder if the shifter virus is sexually transmitted.I had to laugh when the book referenced Diane Arbus a bit later, as I learned about her in the same seminar. She was an American Photography who had a sheltered life and wanted to photograph exotic persons, people considered to be freaks.I was horrified about Roan’s backstory. Especially how casually it was narrated, … I mean being kept in a cage and branded as kid. Wow. No wonder he doesn’t have the highest opinion about humanity. His relatinship with Paris seems really awesome. They fit so well together and I love how Paris is this all-american boy charmer who has this natural manipulation skill he uses for benign reasons. Both are really interesting characters, but I really wonder about Paris’ family.The cult gives me the creeps. Hope they find something to nail the guy.
Email Comment: Book One, Chaper 1-12 on 7/23/13Woah, Roan really didn’t have an easy life, did he? Tortured and abused in the system, then fell in love with a suicidal alcoholic who killed himself when he split. I think I would beat myself up over that as well. Poor guy!No wonder he has such a dark lookout on the world. Kind of creepy how analytically he thinks about premeditated murder when the opportunity arrises, but I still really care for him as a character. It feels so intimate to see even his darkest sides.And it was REALLY great to get a Paris POV. He’s not really the naive, idealistic all american boy I thought he was in the very beginning. He might be more positive about the world than Ro, but he definitively knows what’s going on. He knows the effect he has on others and how to use it, He was a Playa, can lie and pretend to be someone else convincingly at will and can use his charm to get what he wants. Kinda reminds me of fairies in Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels. It’s interesting that he sees Eli as his evil twin and Ro thinks he has everything a supervillain would need. It somehow struck me how informed he was when Ro said in previous chapters he wouldn’t be surprised if people offered being infected as diet method because they are bad, and now Paris states that that actually happens. He knows what’s going on and I think I underestimated him.
Dana – One great thing about paranormal books is that they don’t have to follow an absolute set of rules. Vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters might have been created once with a certain formula, but because they aren’t real an author can give paranormal characters their own unique spin. I love a tale where I can get a new perspective on an old subject.
In the Infected series, being a shapeshifter means you turn into a big cat during a viral cycle that occurs about once a month, which kind of falls in with the idea of werewolves changing once a month. The virus can be spread through blood and semen, and just like the modes of transmission, the infection is more like HIV than a paranormal superpower. Being infected may even be worse, it is an almost certain death sentence. For the most
The main character Roan is a born infected. A lion to be exact. Most born infecteds are born ill or disfigured with short life spans. Roan seems to be an exception. The story starts as Roan seems to be entering a new phase of his virus. Because there aren’t many like him who’ve survived, there’s really no protocol on the way his body is changing and he is formidable to the infected and non-infected alike. What I like most about him is his snarky, alternative persona. I love a character with wit and doesn’t follow a norm. He also seems a bit geeky and as an avid book reader, I like me some nerdy men.
Roan’s lover Paris is an infected Tiger. He is Roan’s opposite. His whole life has been about him wanting people to like and/or want him, and it led to him getting infected. He’s beautiful and slightly vain. Since his infection though he has settled into a relationship and is sweet and patient with the terse Roan. For different reasons, I loved Paris, too. I love them together, though society tends to frown on them for being gay infecteds. Their romance is probably legendary, definitely star-crossed, and the sex between them is off page. I’ll admit I like a good story with good sex, but I didn’t miss detailed scenes in this book. There is truly a lot going on to keep my attention.
Besides the set up and romance, this is primarily a mystery. Roan is a private investigator and takes on several cases in this book. There are two parts to the story with conclusions to the cases he takes in each part. Missing people, a crazy and malformed cat on the loose, groups of infected haters, and a infected worshiping group called The Church of the Divine Transformation all play roles in the cases Roan had to solve.
I think the author took a risk with having so much going on in one book, and for me it paid off. I never felt lost or confused by the information or descriptions in the story, and I was dragged in by the mysteries. I loved the romance, and the complex characters she created. Because of the vicious nature of the disease, I know I am in for some heartbreak as I continue to read the series, but I love a good roller coaster of emotions, so bring it on. I definitely recommend this book and the series as a whole.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars.
Andrea Speed was born looking for trouble in some hot month without an R in it. While succeeding in finding Trouble, she has also been found by its twin brother, Clean Up, and is now on the run, wanted for the murder of a mop and a really cute, innocent bucket that was only one day away from retirement. (I was framed, I tell you – framed!)
In her spare time, she arms lemurs in preparation for the upcoming war against the Mole Men.
Viva la revolution!