For a self-confessed arachnophobe, I do seem to quite enjoy books about spiders!
The Hatching is an end of the world / horror / thriller novel with a bit of a twist, in that the cause of our demise is an ancient species of spider. This species has lain dormant for hundreds, if not thousands of years, but is now very much active.
Billionaire Bill Henderson, is taking a tour through the Peruvian jungle with his bodyguard, model girlfriends and a guide. When they are surrounded by a black skittering mass, Bill is the only one to escape with his life.
FBI Agent Mike Rich attends the scene of a plane crash in Minneapolis – and witnesses something that he has never seen before.
In China, a nuke is dropped in a rural backwater by its own government. They claim it’s a training exercise gone wrong, but it attracts the attention of…
Stephanie Pilgrim, the President of the United States. Concerned that the Chinese are planning to send their nukes further afield, Steph’s team begin to investigate.
At a university in Washington DC, Professor Melanie Guyer receives a calcified egg sack that was discovered at an archaeological dig at the Nazca Lines in Peru. When it hatches, a species of spider that she has never seen before emerges – one that is more aggressive and voraciously hungry than anything she has ever come across.
And these events are all linked.
I love end of the world novels that are told from a variety of perspectives. Whilst it’s not original, it’s a structure that works brilliantly for novels such as The Hatching. It’s a great way of showing the (pending) disaster from multiple angles – the impact of different areas of the world (also showing how far it’s spread) but also from the perspectives of people with varying levels of information. Joe Public knows only what he’s heard via the media – both traditional news reporting and social media – whilst POTUS is privy to somewhat more information. Not that that is necessarily a blessing. In The Hatching, we get all of the perspectives of those I’ve mentioned above, some of whom have larger parts than others, as well as others who witness events as they unfold. As I said, it works really well in this novel.
Given the number of characters, it’s always going to be difficult to flesh each one out in full, but I felt that Boone did well here – I thought that there was sufficient background on the main players in the novel, and this tied in seamlessly with the narrative. Some (male and female) did seem a little overly concerned with who would be sharing their bed in the coming nights, although this did lessen as they realised the scale of what they were facing.
I thought that the reaction to the disaster was quite realistic. Putting aside the nature of the threat (I REALLY hope that that is purely fiction!), I think that some countries would attempt to cover it up (not necessarily through the use of nuclear weapons) quietly and under the radar, without wanting to attract attention. Eventually, countries would begin to cooperate, but likely too late to do anything more than slow down the inevitable. That’s maybe quite a pessimistic outlook, but I do think that events might play out in such a way.
I read The Hatching in a single day – it’s utterly compelling, highly entertaining and brilliantly written with touches of humour throughout. Whilst there are elements of a horror novel here, it’s not (to my mind) particularly gory – the horror comes more from the creepy, uncomfortable vibe that the novel imparts. It does end on a cliffhanger too – some questions are answered, more are raised, and there’s a wonderfully terrifying hint of what’s to come next. I can’t wait for the sequel, Skitter, which is currently due to be published in April 2017 in the UK.
As a complete aside, isn’t “skitter” the most wonderfully onomatopoeic word to describe a spider’s movements? *shudders*