Quick Review: THE HATCHING by Ezekiel Boone (Atria/Gollancz)

BooneE-HatchingUSA fast-paced, gripping thriller

Deep in the jungle of Peru, a black, skittering mass devours an American tourist party whole. FBI agent Mike Rich investigates a fatal plane crash in Minneapolis and makes a gruesome discovery. Unusual seismic patterns register in a Indian earthquake lab, confounding the scientists there. The Chinese government “accidentally” drops a nuclear bomb in an isolated region of its own country. The first female president of the United States is summoned to an emergency briefing. And all of these events are connected.

As panic begins to sweep the globe, a mysterious package from South America arrives at Melanie Guyer’s Washington laboratory. The unusual egg inside begins to crack. Something is spreading…

The world is on the brink of an apocalyptic disaster. An virulent ancient species, long dormant, is now very much awake. But this is only the beginning of our end…

There has been a lot of hype surrounding this novel, and I think most of it is justified. It’s an entertaining, fast-paced and gripping thriller about the end of the world. Unlike many novels in this genre, though, it is not zombies or vampires or some disease that is killing swathes of the global population. Rather, it is spiders. Lots and lots and lots of spiders…

The novel is told from a number of different perspectives, each focusing on a very different type of person, or group of people. There’s an arachnid specialist and her team, an FBI agent who stumbles on evidence of the arachnid threat, there’s the US president and her chief of staff, there is a group of survivalists, and some military personnel. There are also one-time perspectives that are far closer to the action, which give us a wonderful sense of the sheer scale of the threat.

BooneE-HatchingUKThat being said, most of the ‘action’ actually features relatively few spiders, save for some on-the-ground scenes. But even here, the arachnids as a whole are off-screen. This, I think, was a very good decision to make — it keeps the threat unclear, and more sinister as a result.

Boone’s writing is great, and the plot is tightly composed and brisk. The characters are well-crafted, and one becomes invested in (almost) all of their fates. There are some tropes that are ticked off (there are moments that made me think of 90s action thrillers, not that this is a bad thing), but everything works really well. I blitzed through this in an evening and the following day, eager to see how far the infestation and devastation spread in this first volume. That’s right — there is more to come! Recognizing this does explain some of the decisions made, and why there is no proper conclusion at the end. But there’s certainly so much promise for the next instalment, which I can’t wait to read.

If you’re a fan of thrillers, apocalyptic-threat novels, or like to be creeped out, then The Hatching is a great must-read thriller. I enjoyed this a lot, though I didn’t find it as ‘terrifying’ as some had led me to believe. Definitely recommended, though. Roll on book two!

***

The Hatching is published on July 5th in the US by Atria/Emily Bestler Books, in Canada by Random House, and in the UK by Gollancz.

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