Out in the desert, survivalists Gordo and Shotgun are trying to invent a spider super weapon, but it’s not clear if it’s too late, because President Stephanie Pilgrim has been forced to enact the plan of last resort: The Spanish Protocol. America, you are on your own.
As regular readers of Knockin’ Books may remember, I was a huge fan of The Hatching, The Hatching Series Book 1 (check out our full review here). It was my introduction to author Ezekiel Boone (check out our interview with the author here) and I was so impressed, I even talked about adding him to my very short list of top tier, “must read everything they write” authors. Still, I didn’t feel right about adding him alongside legends like Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Justin Cronin based on a single book. I needed to see more of his work to determine whether this first book was a happy fluke or if Boone is the real deal. After reading Skitter, I’d like to announce that Ezekiel Boone is now an official member of my top shelf, sure bet, never disappointing authors. Welcome to the club, Zeke!
While Skitter picks up right where The Hatching left off, there isn’t a ton of time wasted with annoying recaps for people who didn’t read the first book or need to be reminded of details. Personally, I appreciate this a great deal. There’s nothing more annoying than having to spend the first 20 pages of a new book in a series reading a synopsis of everything that’s happened in previous books. I know authors are likely encouraged to do so by their publishers but I strongly prefer the method used in Skitter with brief mentions of previous events are seamlessly woven into the normal course of the story. Bonus points for the effort.
Skitter builds on the intertwining storylines and characters introduced in The Hatching by introducing several new and interesting characters throughout the book. More than anything however, I really enjoyed how this book dives much deeper into the complexity and mystery of what these spiders are, where they came from, what’s coming next and how they might be stopped. Of course, all of this is going on while people at the highest level of government are wrestling with some of the most difficult decisions possible while attempting to save the country and potentially all of humanity from this threat.
Boone includes an exceptionally realistic storyline of how some people would take advantage of the fear and panic in a crisis of this magnitude to manipulate people for their own purpose. If history has taught us anything about human nature it’s that people are capable of both extreme heroism and extreme evil when they are gathered in large numbers and faced with a life threatening situation. Examples of both are on vivid display as some do whatever’s necessary to protect their loved ones and others are willing to sacrifice lives to protect themselves.
Bottom line, Skitter is a fantastic follow up in a superb series. I can only hope there are many more editions in the future. That being the case, you may be wondering why I gave Skitter an odd rating of 4.5. Fair question. My perfect rating of 5 out of 5 for The Hatching was partially based on my enthusiasm for having discovered such a genuinely incredible talent in Ezekiel Boone. Now that he’s been elevated to my upper echelon, the grading scale gets a little tougher simply because I’m now comparing his work to other that of literary legends.
The upside is that even with the higher degree of difficulty, Skitter still managed to score very high. In my opinion, it actually reached a slightly higher overall level than The Hatching. Needless to say, I’ll have very high expectations for book 3 but I’m confident Boone will meet and possibly even exceed every one of them.
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