- Ezekiel Boone.
- 352 pages.
- Fiction / Horror / Post-apocalyptic / Spidocalyspe.
- My Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Tens of millions of people around the world are dead. Half of China is a nuclear wasteland. Mysterious flesh-eating spiders are marching through Los Angeles, Oslo, Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, and countless other cities. According to scientist Melanie Gruyer, however, the spider situation seems to be looking up. Yet in Japan, a giant, truck-sized, glowing egg sack gives a shocking preview of what is to come, even as survivors in Los Angeles panic and break the quarantine zone. Out in the desert, survivalists Gordo and Shotgun are trying to invent a spider super weapon, but it’s not clear if it’s too late, because President Stephanie Pilgrim has been forced to enact the plan of last resort: The Spanish Protocol. America, you are on your own.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Skitter is the sequel to The Hatching, you can find my review for the first book below:
The Hatching was the first wave of spiders, when the shit hit the fan, and Skitter is the calm before the storm, for the most part it is the waiting for the return of the spiders, there’s sightings and a few random encounters to move the story along, different types of spiders to The Hatching also appear. But after the first wave died out, Skitter is predominantly the clean up after the devastation, the trying to get on with life, the figuring out where the spiders came from, how to fight them and prepare, there’s some tough decisions to be made and drastic action undertaken, and finally the debating over how to actually stop the spiders once they do return, resuming their march towards world domination, all hail our mighty and benevolent arachnid overlords!
There’s a lot of characters involved in Skitter, you get the returning ones who made it out of The Hatching alive, and some new ones also thrown into the mix. Just like in the first book some of these new characters stick around, but others after brief appearances end up as fodder, as spider food. To paraphrase Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses: “You know where you are? You’re in the spidocalypse, baby, You’re gonna die”.
In my review of The Hatching I mentioned the lack of strong characterisation amongst Boone’s cast, again with Skitter you get a few cardboard cutout types with no actual development, just a bit of back story here and there. But some of the new ones are also fleshed out, and it will be interesting to see what happens with them in the next book. Likewise with the returning characters, as this is the second book that you’ve now spent time with them in, you find that you’ve developed a growing affinity towards them, rooting for them, and while not necessarily caring about them like you would characters in some deeper books, you want them to pull through, to be OK.
Whilst he has quite a simple and easy writing style, the story and the pacing both flow well, and Boone nevertheless knows how to spin (get it, spiders spin a web) a damn good, fun and enjoyable yarn that is written in a rollicking manner.
Even with such a large cast Boone does a great job of never confusing you, we flit from character to character and from location to location through chapter to chapter, and it’s surprisingly easy to keep track of who’s who, and what role they have to play.
My favourite characters would have to be Aonghas, his vietnamese fiancé Thuy and Aonghas’s Grandfather Padraig, stranded on the remote Caidh Island in the outer hebrides, away from the threat of the spiders (hopefully), they represent a more sedate plot line and whilst reading Skitter it’s a pleasure each time we visit them.
After not really connecting with them in The Hatching I also found myself to be a fan of Shotgun, his husband Fred, Gordo, his wife Amy and their dog Claymore, the eclectic mix of survivalists located in Desperation, also finding that the way their story tied into the main fight against the spiders was neatly done. However, if Claymore ends up as spider grub we’ll be having words Boone, I’m telling you now, leave the dog alone!
After the waiting, and what feels like ominous background music playing for most of the book, the sirens start blaring during the last fifty pages, as the second coming of the spiders is unleashed to full effect, those last pages are one holy shit moment of the world on the brink of going to hell, leaving us with various cliffhanger conclusions for the separate story arcs, locations and questions still to be answered in the next book.
I can’t be the only one who’s read and finished Skitter, and is eager to find out what the fuck is in the giant glowing egg sacs that are found in various locations? Don’t get smart readers and say spiders, I’m the sarcastic one on this blog! 🙂 But are they huge big ass hairy motherfuckers? Will Shelob make an appearance? Could they be arachnid hybrids? Maybe a Spiderpig? Spiders crossed with a Xenomorph? Or even spidermen and spiderwomen? Damn it Boone, I want to know what sick and twisted monstrosity will emerge!
Just like with The Hatching I read Skitter in a short time, well under three days, it kept pulling me back in to find out what was happening. It’s akin to an action movie, one where you sit there watching, engrossed, with time flying by in bouts of action and a series of explosions, only it’s in book form and it’s the pages that keep turning. One of the things to love about the series is the simplicity of the premise, long dormant ravenous ancient spiders awaken, setting about feasting on human flesh, but why have they chosen now to awaken? And more importantly can they be stopped? It’s simple and because of that it works really well.
Skitter is fast paced but lacks the frenetic action and plague of spiders that frequented The Hatching, and as such it doesn’t quite reach the height of its predecessor, it’s still a damn entertaining read.
That’s not to say that Skitter isn’t a good book, it really is. It’s simply a different type of beast, or should that be arachnid to the first book, forgoing the masses of marauding and rampaging spiders that devour human flesh, laying waste to the world, replacing them with the aftermath of The Hatching, the waiting for the what happens next and the inevitable return of the spiders. The additional deeper story telling elements work well, and I found Skitter to be a quality continuation of the story started in The Hatching.
You definitely need to have read The Hatching first to get the most out of Skitter, if you haven’t you’d be missing out on the events before, and it’s also a very entertaining book that’s lots of fun. So do yourself a favour and pick them both up, at times we all need a break from reading deep and meaningful tomes of elaborate stories and rich culture, let Boone be that break and allow him to take you on his fulfilled wild ride into the spidocalypse.
To end, I’ll reiterate what I wrote in my review for The Hatching, this series needs to be made into either a film or a TV show, make it happen!
Pre-order Skitter (UK 27th April. US 2nd May).
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