Short & Sweet: The Hatching brings something new to the table, but stumbles with a lengthy start and irrelevant details. Combined with considerable background that provided fantastic character development – at the sacrifice of story progression – creates a story that reads more like a giant prologue than an actual novel.
Deep in the jungle of Peru, where so much remains unknown, a black, skittering mass devours an American tourist whole. Thousands of miles away, an FBI agent investigates a fatal plane crash in Minneapolis and makes a gruesome discovery. Unusual seismic patterns register in a Kanpur, India earthquake lab, confounding the scientists there. During the same week, the Chinese government “accidentally” drops a nuclear bomb in an isolated region of its own country. As these incidents begin to sweep the globe, a mysterious package from South America arrives at a Washington, D.C. laboratory. Something wants out.
The world is on the brink of an apocalyptic disaster. An ancient species, long dormant, is now very much awake.
Published: July 2016
That synopsis though? Immediately impressed! I snatched this from my library so fast, and dug in as soon as I could curl up in bed. However, this novel seems to exist on two planes: the first two-thirds, and the latter third. The latter was phenomenal. The first was not.
Boone has this fresh new idea, pulling from a very basic fear and inflating the minute dangers this fear leads us to believe. But, it was difficult for me to experience that fear The Hatching tried so hard to induce – within the first two-thirds. I would have preferred the reveal of the creature(s) to be later on in the story, and in a much more fantastical manner; I do believe Boone revealed them early in an attempt to both pull us in with the novelty, and sway us to their true danger. (If you’ve looked at any other reviews, and/or googled the novel, you’ll know instantly what the creature(s) are – but as this is a spoiler-free space, I will leave that discovery up to you). To sum up how I felt about the main “antagonist” of this story (again, this only applies in the first chunk):
There are a ton of pictures, but I’ve got to be honest: it looks like somebody went to town with Photoshop. Hard to believe its not a hoax. …Clearly something is going on.
I believe that’s the cause of the somewhat low rating on Goodreads.
Each chapter is a single character, plucked from a constantly rotating cast that hails from every corner of the globe. In the beginning, some of the viewpoints serve no purpose but to character build. One particular example was from the viewpoint of Mike, a policeman, and his attempt to take down a gang member – spliced by enumeration on his failed marriage and divorce, a painful cliché that is barely saved by Boone’s fantastic writing. Absolutely zero relevance to the plot at a whole, and could’ve been cut entirely without any sacrifice to the story.
Luckily, these outliers are interspersed between plot-moving chapters, so they didn’t bother me too much. However, I can see see how irritating it would get, impatiently turning each page looking for story movement.
All of these issues I had flew out the window with the latter third of the story. Once Boone starts really writing action, its an edge-of-your-seat, pages-flying-past type of pace. The character’s worlds converged, like puzzle pieces slotting together to form a clear picture, and the chapters get shorter as the situation drastically devolves. At this point, since the character building had been so thorough, the danger transformed from farcical to authentic, especially as each character was affected in some way.
I feel if some of the extra character building had been removed, the story progression tightened up, and the opening to the next novel, Skitter (synopsis contains spoilers) placed as a cliffhanger in this novel, The Hatching would have easily capped five stars.
Would I recommend it? Yes and no. If you’re looking for something that is action packed and ready to plunge you into the thick of things, then no. However, if you’re prepared for some lengthy character background, and can get through the first two-thirds, then absolutely – the latter half is worth it. I closed this novel wanting to reach for the sequel.