Invasive by Chuck Wendig makes me hate ants.
Every year, and it seems no matter what part of the country I live in, these evil creatures invade my home. They find every nook and every cranny and scurry looking for water or some little crumb to enjoy and bring back to their nest. They crawl over your skin with a slight tickle, and sometimes they bite you for the fun of it. Plus they smell an impossible to describe scent. Imagine putrid ammonia and lemon cleanser, and you have a general idea. They are everywhere, and there are 12,000 species in the world. They are a pest, a pestilence upon my household. This book takes my fear of ants and turns it up to 11.
You know how to take the whole idea of a swarming mass of black ants and make it worse. Make them poison you, cause anaphylactic shock, and then cut bits and pieces of your skin off and leave your insides facing the outside while still alive. That’s how you make it worse.
Chuck Wendig, you are a maniac.
I thought The Hatching was terrible for the pure creepy crawlies, nope. Spiders have nothing on killer ants. Not only has Wendig provided a genuine and visceral fearscape to set his imagination wild in, but he also did that with fantastic characters, pacing, and lead heroine.
Invasive stars Hannah Stander. She reminds me of a grittier version of Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs. She is smart, capable, and a tough FBI agent working a murder investigation. Where I think Wendig soared with her character is that she is not two dimensional. No person is hardened all the time. Hannah has moments of weakness and guilt, which makes her character more realistic and empathetic. The supporting characters, although not as fleshed out as Hannah, add a great dimension to the story through the various interactions with Hannah. You want her to succeed in her quest to discover the truth and survive, but as a reader, you are curious about the going-ons of all the supporting characters.
This is a character-heavy story. Because of the development of the characters, the setting and worldbuilding are not as comprehensive as the character creation, and frankly, it doesn’t need to be. Think Jungle. Think tropical. Think medical/scientific compound where experiments are created and carried out, and you have the gist.
Hannah is speculating about a homicide in upstate New York. The victim is found stripped of all skin and laying in a pile of thousands of dead ants. The death is strange and sparks the intrigue of Hannah. Through a series of logical leaps, Hannah finds herself at a research compound of an eccentric billionaire that studies insects. From there the story becomes a fast-paced thriller full of survival, both of Hannah and the humans as a species. It bounces from scene to scene, keeping the reader on edge with the tight storytelling.
Invasive is an exhilarating and exciting read that had me feeling phantom tickles on my cheek after reading. If you are a fan of the creepy crawlies, this is for you.
Buy Invasive by Chuck Wendig