My rating: 5 of 5 stars
From the very beginning, The Hatching took hold of me and refused to let me go, all the way to the final pages.
As a ‘world-ending-disaster’ novel, it has certain rules it must obey: it has to have an ominous prologue, it has to switch from one character to the next and the next, it has to have a lone scientist with just the right links to politicians, and it has to have the classic cop-married-to-his-job-so-his-wife-left-him. Five stars for nailing the genre.
But Ezekiel Boone doesn’t just let his story rest on its ingredients: the story flows. It gets to the point well before its summer-blockbuster movie version usually does.
He breaks a lot of ‘rules’ in exactly the right way – he uses repetition to great effect, sometimes in a droll over-the-top style with a punchline at the end:
Her parents had a lot of money. A ton of money. Private jet money. A building on the American University campus named after them money. What the hell was Julie doing in a lab studying spiders money.
But sparingly – the next extravagant repetition like that was 220 pages later:
But instead of doing his job, Cody Dickinson had smoked twenty dollars’ worth of pot and fallen asleep in his seven-hundred-dollar Herman Miller Aeron chair. He had the cushy office job because he had seniority, and he had seniority because he was sixty and had been a longshoreman for forty-two years, and because he had been working as a longshoreman for forty-two years, he’d worked as a longshoreman when working as a longshoreman actually meant working, which meant his back was wrecked, which was why he had the seven-hundred-dollar Herman Miller Aeron chair, but his back still killed him, and smoking a ton of pot was the only thing that really helped. So he was asleep when the ship ran aground and the impact caused the roof to collapse and kill him where he sat.
Sometimes Boone tells instead of shows:
Delhi. Second most populous city on earth. Including surrounding towns and villages, home to twenty-five million people.
(The implication of that is up to me and my imagination!)
Other times, he doesn’t even do that – he just sets up a scene and walks away from it, lets me do the rest. After all, it’s a disaster in the making – I pretty much know what happens. He just does it in such a way that I’m on the edge of my seat, aghast, horrified, and tense.
Oh and speaking of must-have ingredients for the genre, what of the premise itself? The whole reason the world is ending? It has to have a believable base – like the dinosaur DNA reconstruction of Jurassic Park and the volcano about to blow in Dante’s Peak and, at a stretch, the Mayan calendar predictions in 2012 – and this one is no letdown! No, I’m not giving it away.
And I love that a person’s skin colour was not in the up-front description when we met them – that’s exactly as it should be.
Not once did I stumble over faults in the storyline (there were none). Not once did I roll my eyes in disbelief – in fact my suspension of disbelief was perfect. I even flinched when in real life a few days later, I heard a patient of mine had been bitten by a spider…
Thanks to the inexorable pace, the utter ramping-up of the action, the way events unfolded sooner than I expected, I was sweating, my heart racing, and I didn’t want to stop turning the pages. There is no slow build-up here, waiting for the Hollywood moment and settling into the action – the whole thing is the Hollywood moment. It never slows let alone stops, with short sharp sentences giving way to short sharp chapters.
This is the best I’ve ever read in the genre and I can’t wait to read Skitter!