Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Book Review: Invasive by Chuck Wendig

Invasive by Chuck Wendig

Hardcover, 336 pages

Published August 16th 2016 by Harper Voyager

I admit my first two times reading Wendig were his Star Wars novels but I have been following him on twitter for a long time. I have been meaning to read Zeroes for over a year, and I knew I had to read his original work. It was Invasive that ended up in my hands in kind of an impulse buy. I saw on the new release rack at the library and picked it up knowing nothing except that I liked his command of structure and writing style when applied to star Wars.

It might have been a hard sell if I was pitched that it was an "ant apocalypse" novel. That said I really enjoyed this novel even if the subject matter didn't get my attention right away. I went into the novel completly blind not reading anything about just going on the strength of the author. The novel is a science fiction/ horror / monster / end of the world story and yes the monsters are ants.

The story follows Hannah a FBI consult who was raised by doomsday preppers and now she assesses risk and studies future threats. At the core of the novel is a woman raised in a storm of anxieties caused by the future and the end of the world. A unique and perfect protagonist for this story. Many of us fear the creepy crawly critters at the heart of this book but seen through the eyes of Hannah the novel has a distinct point of view.

Hannah is put on the mystery of a man found dead who appears to have been eaten by a swarm of ants. These ants however appear unnatural, possibly engineered. She tracks the mystery to an island owned by a rich man who reflects Elon Musk in many ways. Comparisons to Jurassic Park and the Island of Doctor Moreau are easy to make, but the novel has plenty of twists and reversals to move past any tired tropes.

I enjoyed the novel and think Wendig is a talented story teller. I think the prose of the novel is simple, efficient and kept me turning pages quickly. There was a strange interlude that took us out of the narrative for 20 or so pages in one chunk towards the final act. The interlude left our point of view character to explain what was happening else where. I felt this detour took to long. I think shorter interludes woven into the structure would have served the story better.

That said I thought this was a pretty good horror novel that skirts the techno thriller. Not sure it will make my top ten this year, but it did enough to put Wendig on my authors whose work I will try to read all of.

A little note about the book design, the book is covered in little prints of ants on the pages that start every chapter. Very neat design that considering the tiny nature of the monsters was a neat touch.

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