Nutshell: Boone proves there’s nothing to the notion of a “sophomore slump” if you’ve got a great writer and a kick-ass story. Skitter is just as much gruesome, “GET IT OFF ME” fun as The Hatching was, but this time the stakes are even higher… Sit back, dig in, and be prepared to read this in one sitting. It’s that good. Grade: A
Stand-alone or series: The second book in The Hatching series.
Target audience: Post-apocalyptic genre fans who aren’t afraid of webs. Or who can get over their fear for some seriously good, creepy fun.
Publication 411: hit shelves May 2nd, 2017. (Atria/Emily Bestler Books)
“I might be off on the numbers. You have to understand, they’re not leaving one in five people alone, … One in five people survived, which isn’t the same thing.”
The bugs are back, baby! Oh fine; spiders are actually arachnids (#invertnerd) but I couldn’t pass up an alliteration. Boone is back with the second installment of this amazing series, and you need to read this book. You really, really do.
Why? Because it’s good. Boone delivers an action-driven story, but there’s no disturbance to his narrative flow when he takes side-routes or shifts perspective. In Skitter, the world tries to sift through the wreckage of what happened when these spiders unleashed hell. But hidden here and there, there are little time-bombs all over the world, waiting to go off. And a few really big, glowing ones as well. That can’t be good, can it? No, no it can’t.
This whole “spider attack!!111!” should be cheesy, but it’s not. It’s creepy, unsettling, and disturbing as hell. Boone’s whipsmart, no-nonsense storytelling makes this idea work, and his way with character motivation feels authentic. Like Stephen King’s The Stand, as the world falls apart Boone weaves in men and women people gravitate to in the hope of salvation. These new characters, along with those we met in the first book, keep things fresh, and become an integral part of the story.
Yeah, Skitter doesn’t have the same New Story Smell that Hatching did, but Boone shows he’s still got plenty of surprises up his sleeve, both good… and gruesome. He can scare, and dammit if he can’t draw a tear as well. While this isn’t Joss Whedon Level “don’t get attached”, not every perspective in the story will…play out. That’s natural; it’s a worldwide apocalypse. Would you expect everyone around you to be a-okay from start to finish? Sure, you’d want that…but it’s not believable. That said, I do have my favorites I’m rooting for. I’m hopeful they’ll make it. Giving me people to root for is something I look for in stories, no matter the genre. Boone does excellent work digging into my heartparts.
As for the spiders…well, I don’t want them anywhere near any of my parts. Boone gives readers a bit more of their biology and behavior. Remember when I said in my Hatching review that these spiders can chew? Well, my bad. There’s an even ickier way these arachnids get their chow on. (I’ve said too much.) While he takes slight liberties with typical spider behavior and biology, there’s a definite tie-in with their real world biology here. But the how of their attacks isn’t necessary to the “what do we do” question. Plus, it makes for deliciously disgusting mayhem.
You can make your way through this book without a Hatching backstory, as there’s just enough exposition to fill in the basics of what you’ve missed. However, please don’t start with this book. Don’t deny yourself the creepy pleasure of letting the story unfold for you bit by bit, rather than in past tense. Let Boone take you on the whole horrifying ride.
Skitter is of those books where I didn’t know whether to plow through it in one sitting because it’s such a fun read, or ration it chapter by chapter because I didn’t want the fun to end. But I couldn’t help myself, and zoomed through. What the hell; I’ll just read it again. There. Problem solved.