I received this book from Gollancz books for an honest review.
China is dropping nuclear bombs on its countryside; other areas of Asia are experiencing some kind of seismic activity while in Peru something has awakened. The reign of the spiders is beginning. A book that will truly awaken your darkest fears and have you seeing spiders in the corner of your eye.
Told from various viewpoints from all around the world we are given a view of how the spider invasion unfolds from those in power to those who have been preparing for the end of days. We primarily focus on Melanie, a professor who specialises in spiders as she is thrown into the spotlight after being sent a spider egg sac which is estimated to be ten thousand years old. Alongside Melanie we follow the president of the United States, Steph, as she tries to deal with an unreal situation who also works with Melanie’s ex-husband, Manny, as he tries to guide the president in what will quickly turn into a political nightmare. On the ground, Michael, a federal agent, is one of the first people to encounter the spiders in the city after a plane crash brings the spiders in from the wild. His journey takes him across America and back to his home town again while he tries to keep his daughter, ex-wife and her new husband safe in dangerous times. And finally, Gordo and Shotgun, two survivalists who have spent their time and money building bunkers for themselves to ride out whichever the world decides to end.
These aren’t the only characters to appear in the novel, these are just the ones that stood out to me and seem to have a larger role to play in subsequent novels. While this may seem like too many characters each of them are fully developed and have their own history. I would have liked it if some of the past relationships were shown rather than being told how it all played out but I can understand for the time constraints of the novel why it was told. I still would have preferred if it was shown, Melanie, Manny and Steph’s relationship is something that could have been shown more subtly and how it has developed to what it is. I think this is my only misgiving with the novel. A lot of it is told which in a novel like this means it sometimes loses out on a sense of fear at being told what is happening around them instead of showing it.
A book that preys upon some of the most primal and now thought to be irrational fears pulls out the punches. I loved the evolution of the spiders within the novel and how people’s perceptions changes as the people suddenly start to realise how dangerous they actually are. Not only does it play on our fear of spiders but, it also brings into question how humanity would act in this time of crisis, whether we would really be there for our fellow man or would we look out for number one?
The conclusion left me on the edge of my seat as the spiders die off after creating havoc and leave egg sacs in their place. Cities and countries have been destroyed with small pockets of the world that are still unaffected only able to look on and question, is there a pattern to their killing? And when will this end?
The book is fast paced and uncompromising in its blood and gore and I can only praise it for this. This is the horror book I have been waiting for and I can’t wait to read the second instalment as the second wave of spiders rears its head!