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 is discovered, 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 weapon to defeat the spiders. But even if they succeed it may be too late, because President Stephanie Pilgrim has been forced to enact the plan of last resort: The Spanish Protocol.
Every country must fight for itself. And the spiders are on the move…
Before I begin this review, I would like you to all take a moment to give me a round of applause. “Why should we do that?” I hear you cry, your voices laced with a mixture of confusion and awe as you gaze upon the opening lines of what promises to be another top notch, stellar review.
Well, you see, my adoring fans, I managed to get through this entire book without any spider-related nightmares. I know, I know. You don’t have to say it; it’s a pretty impressive feat…although the spiders inhabiting the pages of Skitter did make me extremely paranoid about a moth who decided to crash in my room for a couple of nights this past week. This moth was massive. Like, size of a small bird massive (like, a really small bird, but a bird nonetheless)…and, surprise surprise, it would only rear its creepy, giant-eyed, dust covered face in the dead of night. Naturally, the combination of reading Skitter but hours before and my overly active imagination resulted in my first concern genuinely being “But what if it burrows into my skin and lays eggs inside me?” I had visions of, say, being on the bus and concerned passengers looking to my shuddering, retching form. In this vision, I’d look up, a single tear trickling down my cheek as a I mouthed a final apology before vomiting a swarm of giant moths that would engulf the bus in a torrent of screams and flapping wings and –
– I should probably crack on with this review, shouldn’t I?
So, Skitter is the follow up to The Hatching (the review of which you can check out here) and it’s absolutely bloody fantastic for reasons which I’m about to explain.
After the demise of the first wave of spiders, Dr Melanie Guyer predicts that it’s only a matter of time before the second wave hatches (either from creepy vibrating egg sacs, or the stomachs of poor, unsuspecting hosts). If we – characters and readers alike – thought the first wave was horrific, they’re nothing compared to the second wave (well, not quite nothing, but, well, a smidgen less terrifying maybe? Like 0.01% of a smidgen?). I liked the differentiation between the two strains of spiders. Despite this being an eventual trilogy, Ezekiel is managing to keep the horror fresh. There wasn’t a single moment throughout my reading of Skitter where I thought “Oh yeah, but someone was killed like that in The Hatching.” There’s hand-over-mouth-and-eyes-widening-in-horror moments aplenty in this book.
Skitter gives us a chance to catch up with the cast of characters we were first introduced to in The Hatching but, not only that, it adds a very human touch to the overall narrative. In my review for The Hatching, I talked about the chapters from the unnamed characters’ perspectives and how I found these effective; the anonymity of these characters meant that they could be anyone. They could have been me or you, our best friends or parents, our colleagues or neighbours, which I felt increased the realism for the reader. This form of narrative is carried over into Skitter, but I felt it made more of an impact. Some of the chapters are perhaps half a page long – a mere breath in time – but the weight of emotion contained within those few words are beyond comprehension. Some of the moments captured – for example, the couple in Chicago towards the end of the book – are heartrendingly intimate and so very real. The Hatching has a somewhat comedic element to it, while Skitter focuses more on the human tragedies resulting from the invasion of these ancient spiders.
I enjoyed The Hatching and I enjoyed Skitter even more. Needless to say, I’m extremely excited for the final book, Zero Day, which is due to be published in February 2018!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Song: Shelob’s Lair from the The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King’s soundtrack.
This book is available on Amazon in both e-reader and paperback format.