Skitter (The Hatching #2) by Ezekiel Boone

eze2Skitter is the latest instalment in Ezekiel Boone’s spidery apocalypse.  I may have had a few reservations with Hatching but Skitter definitely knocks those on the head.  I really enjoyed this instalment, for me it had a much creepier feel and at the same time just nailed the whole disaster theme.   This is a fast paced story with multiple POVs that sweeps us relentlessly around the world from a remote island in Scotland back to a scientific laboratory in the US and everywhere else in between.  There were spiders a-plenty causing panic and terror but more than that an ever pervasive sense of worse yet to come, that awful feeling of dread that the clock is ticking, counting down the minutes until something even more nasty bursts onto the scene.

The story picks up pretty much where Hatching left off.  After an initial wave of killing and causing havoc the Hatching spiders seem to have run out of steam and have died off.  It’s too soon to breathe a sigh of relief though – egg sacs seem to be popping up everywhere and some of them are far from your basic egg sack – they’re almost as big as trucks – which really doesn’t bode well imho.  Melanie Gruyer, the spider expert/scientist from the first book is working tirelessly to find out more about the spiders, where they come from, how they’re evolving, what might be next and the pieces are starting to slowly come together but it’s still a puzzle with missing elements.

At the same time, many of the characters from Hatching make an appearance and are developed further.  The characters from the underground shelter seem to have a bigger part to play as do the people out on the remote Scottish Isle.  In a separate note our FBI guy has become stranded at his holiday home out in the wilds along with a colleague, his ex wife and her new potential husband and their daughter.  Things are starting to turn a little nasty – and it’s not the spiders this time but would-be marauders.  On top of this people in states where the spiders struck are mass panicking and tryng to flee to other parts of the country.  Of course the army are trying to contain the situation and prevent possible infections from spreading but the order of the day is chaos really.

Boone introduces plenty more characters in fairly short order giving them all a quick outline, I don’t advise you to become too attached too soon thoughas a lot of people are simply fodder for hungry spiders.

What I really enjoyed about this is the aspect of ‘invasion’ that really comes across.  The chaos and panic from the first book is still there but there’s now an underlyng sense of menace.  This is not simply a freak spider attack from an unknown species of spider that seems to have suddenly been disturbed or awakened.  If feels like something much bigger is actually taking place here – there is a sense of intelligence and co-ordination and a horrible feeling that things are going to get a helluva lot worse and that first wave of spiders was merely a preemptive strike with a possible tidal wave to follow.

I thought this was a great second in series to be honest.  Boone has nailed the disaster theme and I look forward to seeing what happens next because this surely does conclude on a creepy vibe.

I received a copy through Netgalley courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

Posted On 20 July 2016

Filed under Book Reviews
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The hatchingAs it says in the blurb the Hatching is a story that finds the world on the verge of an apocalyptic disaster, with not a zombie in sight I hasten to add.  The infestation that is about to attack the planet is of the 8 legged variety and is a species that seems to have been lying dormant for many hundreds of years.  Something, somehow, seems to have woken up these arachnids and with their voracious appetites and hankering for flesh it seems unlikely that anything can stop their large scale massacre of virtually anything with a pulse that lies in their path.
The Hatching contains a number of different threads.  A professor/scientist who seeks recognition in her field of expertise.  A young man who is about to introduce his intended fiancee to his grandfather who lives out on a remote island.  A number of survivalists who are prepared for a life threatening event, bunkers set up and kitted out just waiting for disaster to strike.  An FBI agent investigating a plane crash seeking to determine whether or not foul play was involved.
We start the story with a billionaire out on a tour of Peru accompanied by three glamorous assistants, a guide and a bodyguard.  The trip isn’t going particularly well and the travellers are feeling despondent but their troubles are only just about to begin.  At the same time a strange package is delivered to the laboratory of the Professor straight  from an archaeological dig in Nazca, Peru.  On top of that strange seismic rumblings are being recorded in India and to top it all off China appear to be taking the nuclear threat to a whole new place of strangeness by bombing their own country!
I actually think The Hatching is quite a good read – providing you go into it with the right expectations, which I don’t think I did.  I think, personally, I had the wrong idea when I started the book.  I was expecting out and out horror with spiders crawling out of every nook and cranny.  Don’t get me wrong there were a couple of creepy elements to the story but, given that this is about spiders (and you can therefore assume my fear levels have been ratcheted up to an all time high before even cracking the pages open) this just doesn’t deliver that goosebump inducing fear ride that I was anticipating.  I guess I’d say this felt more like a thinking piece than a run and hide behind the cushion piece.  As a comparison, when I picked up Mira Grant’s Feed I was expecting a story overrun with flesh eating zombies and blood curdling horror when in actual fact the book focuses much more on the survivors and how they cope with the threat.  This book is similar in that the horror is quite subdued – of course there are moments within the book where the spiders are running amok killing and eating everything in their path and there are the additional elements where we discover the truth about where these spiders actually like to lay their basic egg sacs but it didn’t feel particularly horror filled – for me anyway.
I think that in terms of the length of the story it feels like a lot of characters are introduced in fairly short order and most of them feel a little bit cliched if I’m going to be honest.  There are also a lot of threads and I think this jumping back and forth between characters and plot lines didn’t really give me a chance to become firmly attached to any of them.  That being said I did enjoy the author’s style of writing and I admit this was a very easy book to finish.
At the moment I would say this has a definite ‘set up’ feel to it.  There are no real explanations yet explored about the spiders, why they remained dormant for so long, why they became dormant in the first place or how they were awoken.  The characters storylines all remain open and the book concludes with a firm focus for what No.2 will be trying to achieve.
In conclusion, whilst I didn’t love this book I am intrigued as to how the story will continue.  I would like to see the characters develop more and would like to feel an increase in tension which I thought was lacking a little here but, overall, I am curious enough to continue with the series to see how the story pans out.
I received a copy courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.