Note: Not for the arachnophobic (not just the book, this review). Like, not even slightly. I’m usually fairly chill with spiders – not that I really like them, but I can tolerate them without feeling the need to nuke from orbit – and this book made me attack the next black thread I saw. Ahem.
Ezekial Boone’s debut novel, The Hatching, did an excellent job of portraying an invasion of spiders. Of large, rapidly multiplying, flesh-eating, aggressive, spiders. Ew. Ack. Like, combine the above gif, with this one:
However, that is, honestly, about the only thing this book does well. I’m giving it 3/5 stars because if it hadn’t been for the goosebumps I got at a couple of points (spiders taking over the world, yadda eider), I would have chucked it across the room.
Oh wait. I did do that. Except I picked it up again because I really wanted to know if the spiders succeeded. So, kudos for that. The spider portion was enough to keep me reading.
As far as the rest of the book goes…maybe I am just not used to the horror/sci-fi genre? Maybe characterization and research isn’t so important for this genre? Maybe I have impossibly high standards? I’m not sure. He does a LOT of telling vs. showing, which makes the POV switches just drag on and on and fucking ON.
The the glaring (to me – I have a military background) errors in the portrayal of the United States military left me pulling my hair out. Literally screeching. I had an hour long conversation with my husband (a complete non-reader) about why it’s so very important to make your fictional story believable enough to overcome the reader’s disbelief. For the average reader, Boone probably did ok. To anyone with a military background…how about we just skip those embarrassing chapters which prove that either he a) didn’t research, just watched a few movies and looked up a few models of weapons and vehicles, or b) his research is about 15 years old, give or take. Whatever. Pet peeve. Most likely won’t bother the general population.
There are many, many POVs in this book. At first I was just extremely frustrated, but by the end I think I can see that he was using them to show the global magnitude of this outbreak. I think. There were 11 – count them, ELEVEN – POVs in the first 120 pages. I think that was where it ended. Now, some of them aren’t followed all the way through the book. Some of them are one and done, because, well…spiders. But the majority are kept up in some fashion until the end. As I said, at first I was just EXTREMELY irritated at all the hopping. Then when I finished, I was just EXTREMELY irritated that the stories weren’t finished. Apparently they are so sure of a sequel that it’s ok to just leave a story mid-air. As in every single major line of the story is just – chop. Done. Come back for the sequel, Skitter, next year!
The story really struggles with characters. I get it, it’s a huge, over-arching world invasion plot. But without your people, no one gives a damn about your world. The characters feel very stereotypical and they’re all obsessed with the sexual appeal of whatever person of the opposite sex wanders next into their line of sight. But even that is just so very blah. Like it’s just what they’re supposed to do so it was scribbled in. There’s a likable FBI (FBI? CIA? I think he was FBI) agent, with a cute little daughter. He was my favorite and we didn’t spend nearly enough time with him.
Boone struggles with making his characters believable, i.e., relatable. Like the fairly normal guy that a has a girlfriend who
…just missed qualifying or the Olympics in the two hundred-meter freestyle, and had worked for a couple of years as a model before deciding to go the medical school. She was also unbelievably nice and thoughtful, the kind of woman who spent her free time volunteering at animal shelters and never passed a homeless person without dropping some money in their cup. All that, and she liked to cook.
Excuse me while I throw up. For so many reasons. Not the least of which is the assumption that to be attractive a woman needs to like to cook. Actually, forget throwing up. Let me skewer you on a damn spatula through your orifice of choice. How. Dare. You. Ok, feminist rant over.
That is probably my biggest issue with the story overall. Because if I can’t relate to your characters on SOME level, I’m not going to care if they get eaten by spiders. Or become spider incubators. Sorry.
Oh…there is a very minor character named Two-Two O’Leary. I’m not joking. Was that supposed to be funny? Who edited this book? Who thought that was a good idea? Did we fall into a wanna-be old western partway through an invasion of 8-legged horrors?
I’m probably not going back for the sequel, unless it gets really rave reviews. I’ll read the blurbs and consider it but I just don’t think it likely.