I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Random House Canada, Atria/Emily Bestler Books on July 5th 2016
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An astonishingly inventive and terrifying debut horror novel about the emergence of an ancient race of carnivorous spiders, dormant for ten thousand years but now very much awake. There's a reason we're afraid of spiders...
A local guide is leading wealthy tourists through a forest in Peru when a strange, black, skittering mass engulfs him and most of the party. FBI Agent Mike Rich is on a routine stakeout in Minneapolis when he's suddenly called by the director himself to investigate a mysterious plane crash. A scientist studying earthquakes in India registers an unprecedented pattern in local seismic readings. The US president, her defence and national security advisers and her chief of staff are dumped into crisis mode when China "accidentally" drops a nuclear bomb on a desolate region of its own country. As such unsettling occurrences mount, the president's old friend (and her chief of staff's ex-wife), spider expert Melanie Guyer, receives a box at her lab at American University that contains an ancient egg unearthed at a South American dig. So begins The Hatching, the hair-raising saga of a single week in which an ancient, frighteningly predatory species of spider re-emerges in force. When the unusual egg in Melanie Guyer's lab begins to vibrate and crack, she finds herself at the epicentre of this apocalyptic natural disaster. Working closely with her ex-husband and his very powerful boss, she has to find some way to stem the brutal tide of man-eating arachnids.
Hatching is a novel that unapologetically tells you what it is from the get go. This is a novel about carnivorous spiders. The novel isn’t about the coming together of humanity, the over coming of individuals in the face of sure death or the small acts of kindness bestowed by strangers in a time of crises..it’s about an ancient egg sac that is discovered beneath the Inca lines only weeks before it hatches, unleashing hungry eight-legged anthropoids on the the modern world.
The Hatching is written like a horror movie, slowly creating a world of the “every day” winds up in chaos with the introduction of the alien spider-creatures. Why do I call them spider-creatures? Well, normal spiders do not eat humans and they also do not work in large swarms – eek. In fact, I think some species eat each other rather than work in tandem to hunt larger prey. During the slow and inevitable fall of civilization due to spiders, we meet a vast cast of characters who are all the cookie cutter roles ranging from the kind-hearted President, the politically minded aide, the obsessive scientist and the sexy FBI agent – but this is all part of the fun. Honestly, The Hatching is a novel that follows all the usual plots with some fun plot twists and creepy imagery – its not a masterpiece that will sit on library shelves next to Moby Dick, but it is mastery in its own genre: contemporary horror.
If you’re going to read the Hatching then don’t expect Shakespeare with deep philosophical meanderings. This book is all action, horror and suspense – but in a good way.
Fortunately, it appears Boone wanted establish his world building before slipping into the true revelations concerning the spiders and their behaviour. Although this means the story starts of slow with a smattering of unrelated characters and story lines, inevitably each character comes into contact with one another where personal histories and rivalries help to develop a more complex story beyond spider-creatures devouring people. Really, the creep factor only begins to ramp up a third of the way through with a slow burn that leaves you scratching for more (HA! See what I did there?).
I am incredibly excited to see where Boone takes this series in book two after the build up from book one: characters are in danger, the spiders have successfully taken over the Americas and giant revelations about the nature of the spiders is revealed. Talk about cliffhanger!
This book will appeal to readers who enjoy contemporary horror, novels about “natural” disasters caused by other species, action and adventure novels that focus on a cast of characters with prestigious backgrounds and novels with somewhat unusual but predictable plots. I wouldn’t suggest this to readers who are deathly afraid of spiders because there are plenty of creepy crawlies and the suspense leading up to the big reveal keeps you scratching all the way through the novel.