Skitter, Ezekiel Boone (Atria/Emily Bestler US, Random House Canada)

skitter

The end of the world is, as they say, nigh. Humanity is being wiped out by flesh-eating spiders. The planet is plunging into chaos. Countries are destroying themselves in their increasingly desperate search for a way to stop the spiders from making human beings extinct.

The second installment in Boone’s horror trilogy (after The Hatching) is even scarier. In that book, Boone had to spend some time introducing his characters and convincing us to buy into his premise (ants are taking over the world!). Here, he jumps right into the story, plunking us down in the midst of the arachnid apocalypse. The familiar characters are back: the U.S. president, the FBI agent, the scientist, the survivalists – but they’re not the same people we met in The Hatching. They, like the world around them, have been changed by the relentless onslaught of the spiders.

However, there are signs of hope: the spiders, it seems, are dying off. Has humanity finally caught a break? Or is this seeming setback for the creepy-crawly critters only an early warning of some new horror yet to come? Opinion is divided, but one thing’s for sure: in this time of desperation and terror, human beings will start behaving like ruthless animals.

Boone carries over the horror and destruction from The Hatching, but more interesting than that is the way he develops the human story; he explores the things the spiders’ prey are doing (or failing to do) to cope with the very real possibility that these are humanity’s final hours. He explores humanity’s weaknesses and strengths in the face of almost unimaginably overwhelming odds. In Boone’s hands, these aren’t square-jawed, heroic people facing off against an enemy; they’re flawed – sometimes self-destructively flawed – men and women who are desperately trying to fight off the fear that is taking them over.

Stay tuned for the concluding volume, Zero Day.

Copyright David Pitt

 

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