<This book was given to me as an E-Arc from Netgalley in exchange for this review.>
I think you can guess, from the title, what might be “hatching”. I should’ve known, as a confirmed arachnophobe, (who has experienced an actual hatching), there would be stuff I wouldn’t be able to handle, in this book.
And I was right!
So, fair warning, people! If you’ve got issues with spiders, don’t read this book. Or, at least, do so with the lights up really bright, so you can see EVERYTHING, because you will freak the f***out, if you don’t.
The book starts out well enough and it’s not badly written, but you can sort of tell that this is Boone’s first major book, and it could use some tightening up. The scenes with the spiders are gruesome, effective, and horrifying. It has a wide cast of characters, located all over the world, so there’s none of that insular, “it’s only happening in America” vibe, yet the story still manages to feel quite intimate, as the lives of various characters are impacted by the impending disaster of billions of carnivorous spiders destroying the world.
My biggest drawback was things being too intimate, and my not liking any of the characters, because of tthat. The characters are not initially unlikable. They just become unlikable the more you know about their personal lives. Boone spends far too much time on the character’s back stories. I’m not remotely interested in who is banging who, who they used to sleep with, who they’d like to, at some nebulous point in the future, or why. It’s one thing to do that with one, or two, of the most important characters, but Boone insists on doing that with every. single. character.
When we meet the president of the US, for example, who happens to be a woman(Yay!), the flow of the story is interrupted to give her thoughts, and backstory, on the personal relationships with the other people, in that scene. This disrupts the momentum of the story, which I found deeply annoying. (I would skip whole paragraphs of exposition to get back to the action.)
This wouldn’t be so bad if the back stories of these people were interesting, and many of the stories are horrible cliches, like the cop who just experienced a messy divorce, and his child who doesn’t like him very much. Why? Because he was never home enough. This has the effect of watching a movie where the action sequences, and special effects, are top of the line, but the characters keep stopping in the middle, to have long, boring conversations about their personal problems.
This is definitely a case where the less we know about these characters, the more effective, and streamlined, the story.
That said, the scenes involving the spiders are extremely effective, and the tension levels are ratcheted higher, and higher, as the world gets closer to a cataclysm. The spiders seem nearly unstoppable, and what they lack in size they make up for in numbers. And it’s not just being devoured that one needs to worry about as even a single bite can produce disaster.
Not even nuking them from orbit seems to work.
I’m giving this book a 7.5/10, for some shakiness in character development, which is important to me, but if you could care less about that, and want to read about people dying horribly and fighting for their lives, then The Hatching is worth checking out.
Despite my shortcomings, I will pick up Boone’s next book. This is only his first major salvo, and it’s very promising, so I expect some great monster stories from him in the future.
(Okay, the spiders in this trailer really don’t do the book versions any justice. In the trailer, they’re just sort of wandering around, in the books, those MFs are a hell of a lot more focused, and terrifying!)