Author: Timothy J. Bradley (website)
Pub. Date: April 1, 2013
Summary: When Andy Greenwood is sent to the Reclamation School for Boys he expects the lousy food, mean drill sergeant instructors, and brutal bullies. What he doesn’t expect is an infestation of weirdly large and aggressive ants, or the itching welts all over the staff and students. Even odder, Andy learns that kids never leave the school when they’re supposed to. They just seem to get stuck there indefinitely.
Following a ground-splitting earthquake, however, things quickly go from bad to horrifying. The school is overrun by monstrous bugs, and Andy himself comes face to face with mutant ants the size of humans, equipped with pinchers that can cut steel. Trapped in a cinderblock institutional building in the New Mexico desert, miles from civilization, Andy must figure out a way to save himself and the surviving boys from this nightmare.
Genre: MG, Fiction
I’m a firm believer in the idea that there’s no such thing as a Girl book or a Boy book, that boys can read – and enjoy – a romance just as much as a girl can read and enjoy a sports novel. That said, I think Infestation would definitely appeal more to boys, though I enjoyed it immensely.
Andy Greenwood has been through multiple foster homes and the decision is finally made to send him to the Reclamation School for Boys – the other option is a juvenile center. He doesn’t expect an easy stay ahead of him, but his reality turns out to be far worse. After a disastrous first encounter with the headmaster, Andy begins to have his suspicions about the inner workings of the school and whether or not law enforcement is turning a blind eye to the headmaster’s rulings.
The Arizona heat, hordes of tiny ants scurrying about the building, becoming prime target of the resident bully, and bunking with a boy named Pyro are just the start of Andy’s problems. A food fight results in a stay in isolation along with a few other boys: Pyro, Reilly, Shields, Hector, & the bully himself Joey. As if that wasn’t bad enough, an earthquake shakes the foundation to its core and unleashes a terror unlike anything the boys had ever seen.
When he first arrived at the school Andy learned it was originally built as a lab of some sort. Unfortunately for the boys, the experimentation hasn’t stopped. The earthquake upended massive containers of various chemicals and those tiny little ants aren’t so tiny anymore. They suddenly find themselves the only ones left alive – along with a biologist Dr. Gerry. Somehow they’ll have to find a way to survive both the deadly heat and the rampaging bugs.
Sometimes I’m in the mood for a fun, easy read. Infestation was just the book I was looking for. To me, this was Goosebumps-lite. A group of boys battling nightmare-ish man-sized bugs? What better way to spend an afternoon!
Readers looking for parents in YA might be a bit discouraged: once the bugs start attacking, there’s only one adult left and for the majority of the novel he’s unconscious. However, I was able to look past that and enjoy the ride.
Rapid-fire pacing, non-stop action, and VERY cool charts & diagrams will ensure Infestation finds many fans. Also, the epilogue hints at a possible sequel. If so, count me in.