The mark of a good series for me is that I'm ready for the next book as soon as I finish the current one, and sometimes even before I've finished. As soon as I finished the last page of Skitter, I hopped onto Goodreads to see if book three had been listed yet (it's not), and if there were any information on Amazon (there's not).
I was a fan of the first novel in this spider apocalypse trilogy, The Hatching, and although Skitter is very much a middle child it kept my attention all the way through and had me turning pages with keen interest.
This is a fun read, and a good, solid summer blockbuster. But, it's not without some problems. As I said, Skitter is the middle book of a trilogy. It's primary function is to tease book three and to set the stage for the big finale. Boone's large cast starts to show some payoff and reason for being, as some of their individual plot threads begin to finally merge. There's also some serious game changers to the overall narrative with the enacting of the Spanish Protocol. I won't spoil what this protocol is, but it's suitably drastic and horrifying in its purpose given the threat of man-eating spiders.
The fact of the matter, though, is that this book is largely set dressing for the third act. Aside from a few plot points, like the Spanish Protocol, it doesn't feel like there's a whole lot happening given the page count. Boone has a very large cast of characters, and he jumps all around the globe to spin a big, ol' spider's web of a narrative. Some characters stay pretty static and there's not a lot of forward progression from where they were in The Hatching, while others manage to make it from one end of the country to the other. At the end of the prior book, Boone hit a bit of a pause button, and Skitter has settled into a lull as a result. This book is the calm before the storm, and there's lot of promise of threats to come. Everyone gets warned at some point or another that things are only going to get worse, and to batten down the hatches. Needless to say, the threat begins to emerge just in time for...book three.
It's hard to say just how important Skitter will be to the overall narrative Boone is crafting. Certainly he takes some steps that cannot be easily undone, and there's no magical reset button to hit. It's just that a lot of the book feels like it's treading water, getting people from place to place, and gearing up for the big finish. This book is not the crazy ride The Hatching had prepared me for, and there's not really a whole lot of that spidery apocalypse action I craved. And if I never hear "chicken biscuits" again in my whole life, I'll be OK. Skitter is not a bad book, though, and in fact I was pretty darned entertained the whole way through. Fans of The Hatching should enjoy it, and it left me wanting/demanding the third and final volume in this series immediately.
Final verdict: 3.5 stars/5.
And seriously. Where the hell is book three?
[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]
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