the-hatching-9781501125041_hrThe Hatching
Ezekiel Boone
Random House
July, 2016
Reviewed by Josh Black

Ezekiel Boone’s debut novel, The Hatching, begins with a tour guide leading some particularly arrogant and ungrateful tourists through a Peruvian jungle, on a path he’s walked many times before. As it turns out, this tour ends much differently than any previous ones, as the party is swallowed by a wave of blackness identified far too late to do any good.

From here the perspective alternates between a large cast of characters both primary and secondary. There’s special agent and family man Mike Rich, seismologists Dr. Basu and Faiz, the U.S. President Stephanie and her chief of staff Manny, Manny’s spider expert ex-wife Melanie, and the list goes on. Characters are introduced fairly quickly, and it can be difficult at times to keep up with the relationships between everyone. Everything clicks into place after the first third of the novel or so, and the tension, suspense, and gross factor escalate along with the stakes.

After the incident in Peru, there’s a plane crash in Minnesota, a nuclear strike and attempted cover-up in China, and a ship crash in Los Angeles. The Hatching is a horror-tinged take on a classic disaster novel, so all of these seemingly disparate occurrences lead, of course, to one thing: A worldwide invasion of extremely intelligent, flesh-craving spiders! There’s Blob-style panic on the streets as these things cover and devour their prey, in some cases eating their way inside the bodies and others leaving nothing remotely recognizable as human. It’s cringe-worthy stuff when the action’s in full swing, and it’s a ton of creepy, crawly fun.

As great as Boone is at describing the obvious body horror aspect of things, the characters are a big part of what makes the story work as well as it does. They’re painted with fairly broad strokes, but by the end of the novel you’ll nevertheless be invested in most, if not all of them. No easy feat, considering the sheer number of them.

The prose is bare-bones stuff, but Boone manages to get a lot out of a little. There’s a deep sense of place and everything is vividly described, from the setting to the spiders’ feeding frenzies. Combine this with the steady pacing and it’s clear that this is the kind of story that would be perfect for the big screen.

The Hatching is the first volume in a prospective trilogy. For better or worse, the ending reflects that. It doesn’t exactly leave things hanging, but rather with an obvious calm before a storm. There’s just enough there for you to anxiously await the next book. If you’re a fan of creature features, this is a wild ride and one you should pick up as soon as possible.

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