Review of Craig DiLouie’s “The Killing Floor”
Craig DiLouie took the traditional infected/zombie tale and expanded upon it (and turned it on its ear) with his release of The Infection. The Killing Floor, the second book in this series, carries on where the last book left off, with surviving characters trying to comprehend the costly victory they had at the bridge, where they prevented a flood of infected from crossing the Ohio River and tearing through the refugee camp in nearby Defiance, where over 100,000 survivors live. Ray, one of the survivors from the battle, has been infected but has yet to turn. He is given a mercy by Anne, who allows him to crawl off to die on his own instead of getting a bullet in the head. But Ray doesn’t become your typical infected, instead turning into something like a Typhoid Mary, or a carrier of the infection, instead. This is the centerpiece of this book, with Ray trying to understand what his purpose is as the military and the militia, led by Anne, race to find him with the hope that his blood may hold the cure or to kill him, even as his new found capabilities make him even more dangerous than even the monsters or the infected.
We are introduced to two main new characters: Dr. Price, who is one of the only scientists that believes the infection is not manmade. He manages to escape the White House and is hidden in an underground bunker, but as the story unfolds is given the opportunity to go after Ray and perhaps find a vaccine or cure for infection. Rod, the other new character, is a soldier in the field working to clear out Washington D.C. of the infected when he and his men are assigned the task of bringing Ray in, dead or alive. Along with the remaining cast from the first book, we are given an impressive slew of characters whose stories intersect and come together for the exciting conclusion.
As the second book in what is likely a trilogy, the actual novelty of the infected are has worn off a bit, meaning we get to delve even deeper into the characters here and focus less on the different creatures that have come about with the advent of this plague. Even with some of the secondary characters there is plenty to sink your teeth into, as most of them do not come off as hollow cannon fodder, but real people. The author also does an excellent job of making the military aspects of this story believable without overdoing the jargon and technical areas of the story. The writing is crisp, sharp, and the story itself is intriguing-it does not rely on the unique nature of the infection (with its wide array of different life forms that appear to have the goal of not just running amok but its apparent lust to wipe out all other life forms) to carry the story forward, but the characters who give the tale its terrific depth.
The Killing Floor is a well-crafted follow up to The Infection and has me anxiously awaiting the third chapter in this saga.