Book Review: Skitter by Ezekiel Boone
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Series: Book 2 of The Hatching
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (May 2, 2017)
Length: 352 pages
Skitter is the second novel of the creepy-crawly-infested Hatching series, and in many ways it is a textbook sequel. Ezekiel Boone is clearly striving for bigger, better, and bloodier—and for the most part he succeeds. That said, while things are definitely moving along as far as the main story goes, there’s still a sense that we’re in a holding pattern. Mostly, we’re seeing a reiteration of many of the same themes found in the previous installment, following the characters as they deal with the fallout from the spider apocalypse while the threat of something even worse to come is hanging thick in the air.
Needless to say, it would be wise to complete The Hatching first before tackling this one (not to mention it’s possible that this review may contain spoilers for book one if you haven’t read it yet). The story picks up from the end of the first novel, after a deadly wave of spider attacks have crippled communications and travel all around the world. These are, after all, not your average arachnids. For one thing, they travel in massive carnivorous swarms, capable of stripping all your flesh from your bones in seconds. For another, they simply love laying their eggs in human bodies, turning their hapless victims into ticking spider bombs. For this reason, the United States has chosen to combat the spider problem the same way it would an epidemic disease—with quarantine zones and the clearing out of infected areas. Once bustling cities like Los Angeles have been given up for lost and now lie in ruins.
But just experts are fearing the worst, there comes a brief respite. Having reached the end of their life cycle, the spiders in the initial wave seem to be dying off, leaving behind blankets of their black lifeless husks. But is the danger really over? Dr. Melanie Guyer doesn’t think so. As a spider researcher now working for President of the United States Stephanie Pilgrim, she believes the great spider die-off could be a precursor to a second wave of attacks, one that might be bigger and even more deadly than the first. Now President Pilgrim will have to face a difficult choice: stick it out and save as many lives as possible while hoping to ride out the next wave, or make a terrible sacrifice now tear the country apart in order to guarantee the survival of humanity?
If you enjoyed The Hatching, chances are you’ll also enjoy Skitter. Boone is sticking to a formula that works, employing all the creature horror genre tropes you’d expect by upping the terror and making his spiders even ickier and more disturbing. Once again, we have a number of different POVs showing how things are unfolding around the globe. In Japan, a scientist makes a gruesome discovery, capturing on camera a gargantuan glowing egg sack that spells more disaster and death to come. Panic in Norway lets us see just how far the spider menace has spread. And in the southwestern United States, terrified refugees fleeing from L.A. are forced to watch as their loved ones are torn away from them at military checkpoints if there is even the slightest chance they are infected with spider eggs. The fates of those taken away are unknown, leaving the reader to draw their own awful conclusions.
Luckily though, not every new face we get to meet is a goner. The cast has been expanded, but the author has also started bringing those characters we’re already familiar with together so that the overall story is still manageable. Some of the more random POVs and plot threads from the last book are now beginning to make sense, as Gordo and his survivalist friends from Desperation, California (my favorite characters from The Hatching!) are finally crossing paths with the group in Washington D.C., which is made up of President Pilgrim and Dr. Melanie Guyer’s teams. Even so, some of the connections are still a mystery, such as Angus and his fiancée and grandfather in Scotland. Only time will tell, I suppose, but for the most part Skitter does have the feel of a “bridge book” attempting to start tying all the disparate threads together.
My only disappointment is that this book felt too short, and despite the greater horror and chaos, it felt like very little actually happened. Instead, we retread some old ground—though to be fair, I can’t complain too much since the stakes are much higher this time around—and everyone seems to be holding their breath for the moment of truth, which presumably will be the focus of the third novel, suitably titled Zero Hour.
Still, overall Skitter was a fast read and fun, and I also enjoyed it for its entertainment value, making it the perfect book to slip in between some of my heavier reads. I’ll be looking forward to see how this trilogy concludes!
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of The Hatching (Book 1)