Invasive by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book proudly wears its references on its sleeve. It's the child of Them! and Jurassic Park, with a large helping, now that I think about it, of George R.R. Martin's Sandkings. This is, depending on your point of view, either a good thing or a bad thing; the book is either paying homage or shamelessly ripping off. Personally, I think Wendig's book suffers by comparison to all three, and in my view it is not as memorable as any of its forebears.
This does not exactly make it a bad read, but it is not an outstanding one. It is fast, furious, snarky, depressing, harrowing in places, and unfortunately forgettable. I'm sure a movie will be made from it one of these days, but I won't be seeing it.
My main complaints are with the characters and the pacing. With the exception of the protagonist, the characterizations are shallow, and I didn't care about any of these people. (I eventually grew to resent the one- to three-page vignettes of characters that only existed to be devoured by our genetically engineered killer ants. At least Chuck Wendig was an equal-opportunity fridger--both men and women suffered this fate. But I would rather not have been introduced to them at all than to repeatedly see how many ingenious ways the ants can kill people.) The protagonist, Hannah Stander, was actually a well-fleshed-out character, and I wish the story had been told from her first-person point of view rather than the frantic, jittery third-person present-tense POV used. This ties in with my second complaint: the relentless, damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead pacing once the action gets going. There was no time to think or breathe. Again, that will make for a good film, but I don't care for it in a book. There has to be a chance to pause and reflect, to give the reader time to absorb what's happened and get ready for the next plot twist.
Ultimately, this was a summer beach read, nothing more. It's not something that's going to stick with me, or a book I will care to revisit.
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