Book Review: Zero Day 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
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Series: Book 3 of The Hatching
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (February 27, 2018)
Length: 322 pages
Zero Day closes out Ezekiel Boone’s The Hatching trilogy, bringing an end to the spider apocalypse—though it’s anyone’s guess which side will prevail. Since emerging from an ancient egg sac unearthed beneath Peru’s Nazca Lines, these eight-legged menaces have multiplied into the millions, swarming the globe and paralyzing all aspects of life. In the United States, President Stephanie Pilgrim has carried out the unthinkable, targeting dozens of American cities with tactical nukes, but still the threat remains. All it would take is one single spider to get past their guard, and thousands more people would die.
The time has come for a more permanent solution, and humanity’s last chance lies in a theory postulated by Dr. Melanie Guyer who believes all the spiders in the world are linked through their queens. Her hypothesis is simple: kill the queens, and without their leadership, the rest of the swarm should lose their ability to coordinate their movements and die.
However, not everyone close to the President agrees with this plan, claiming that it is too risky. More drastic measures are proposed to destroy all the spiders and not just the queens, creating a rift within the U.S. government. Meanwhile, those around the world who have managed to survive the initial waves of death are continuing to hunker down or fight, doing what they can to prevent the further spread of what has been dubbed the “Hell Spiders”.
I had a fun time with this novel, but I’m also not going to lie; I expected more from a finale. Like the two previous volumes, this final installment is told through a number of different perspectives, showing us how the spider apocalypse is unfolding around the world. That said, most of the main storyline is centered on the American East Coast, where President Pilgrim and her allies face opposition and eventual revolt from dissenters within her own cabinet. As a result, many of the other POVs are greatly diminished, leaving some of the characters with no role in the conflict resolution whatsoever.
Needless to say, I found this disappointing, especially since a few of the characters I’ve come to love were only briefly mentioned or were given perfunctory page time just to remind us that they were still around. In addition, many of the POV transitions felt awkward and ill-timed, almost like the author was struggling to find a balance, and not entirely succeeding. Instead of flowing smoothly, the narrative kept being disrupted or derailed by these frequent POV switches, some of which didn’t even feel all that necessary.
Still, these issues paled beside the one flaw I could not overlook: there simply weren’t enough spiders! This distinct lack of arachnid-fueled action, especially in the first half, was probably my biggest complaint, and unfortunately, not even the ending which saw the spiders return in full force could really make up for it. Recall in my review of Skitter, where I had praised Boone for upping the ante by making things bigger, better, and bloodier. Compared to its predecessor, however, this book felt like a giant step back. Too much of the story was focused on the human vs. human drama, when the attention should have been given to the spiders (which, in my opinion, are the real stars of the show).
For these reasons, I felt Zero Day really missed its mark in terms of offering a satisfying conclusion. Not only did it skimp on the spiders, the plot also failed to bring anything new to the table, falling back on time-worn clichés like the Hive Queen trope and the good old military coup. And yet, for all its faults, the book was a quick read and provided solid entertainment, which is what saved it from a lower rating. All things considered, it’s probably worth finishing the trilogy if you’ve already come this far, because you’ll want to find out how things end. But while I’m not sorry I read Zero Day, it’s just a shame that the series didn’t end as strongly as it started, and I personally felt it was the weakest of the three books.