Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

Hatching, the new book (Coming out in July from Emily Bestler books in US and RandomHouse Penguin Canada) by Ezekiel Boone is going to be the new poster-book for an apocalyptic extravaganza -A deftly written thrill-ride that focuses on a horde of man-eating spiders devouring the world one city at a time and will definitely have you cringing and gasping in fear. 

It's the ultimate pulpy fun - Ezekiel writes in a fluid fast fashion that really appeals to your heart, at the same time twisting that freak-show dial way up. The story has a bunch of realistic characters banding together to fight against a freaky horror-show, without a clue as to how to stop the marauding army of arachnids and that impending sense of doom holds sway throughout. 

Spiders and the end of the world? 
It really does seem a bit far-fetched right? And yet, the way Ezekiel has his story unspool, you cannot but get carried away. It all starts in the jungles of Central America where a wealthy American businessman is out on a trek with his bodyguard and four super-models for company. The trek soon turns into a horror-show when the company is over-run by a ‘streak of black shadow’ that devours them in no time. We switch back to Minnesota where divorced special agent Mike Rich is having trouble connecting to his teenage daughter and also reconciling with the fact that his ex-wife might be truly happy in her new life. Mike’s life though, gets thrown out of whack when he is assigned to investigate a plane-crash and he discovers a nasty surprise: Spiders crawling out of the dead bodies of the passengers.

Ezekiel amps up tempo by bringing in a couple of perspectives: A research scientist, Melanie whose expertise is spiders and who has just discovered an egg sack from the Nazca line in Mexico, dating back millions of years ago. And her ex-husband, Manny who is the chief of staff to the President, who just discover that China has nuked out one of their own villages.

The action is crazy and non-stop – the army of spiders are crawling all over the world. Starting in the deep jungles of central America, to a sleepy village in China to the underground metro station in New Delhi and then swinging over to the US of A. The narrative is kept on a knife’s edge by the deft writing and we get a lot of minor view-points as the panic spreads like a dark wet blanket. I felt some of the POVs definitely rounded off the story but indeed, we could have done without some that just wears things down without a conclusion. There is no explanation to the behavior of these spiders - they are just instruments of destruction, programmed to feed. Which is why, it's all the more terrifying as the world keels over, helpless and clueless, without any resistance, cities swarmed over by the black horde. The army is handicapped, having to take care of the domestic panic mobs, fueled by fear and uncertainty. 

While in no ways a polished novel, Ezekiel's engaging manner of writing lends a patina of credibility to the overall setting. The B-grade movie feel of grisly horror is offset by his intelligent dialogues and sympathetic characterization. His vision of the world scuttling towards a doomsday, devoured by these eight-legged freak spiders is believable and seems to work. A hair-raising, skin-crawling winner of a book that puts the pulp back into fun. 


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