Women everywhere give birth to strange, flesh-eating, hive-minded, and telepathically empowered creatures that resemble giant spiders. A handful of survivors struggle to escape the spiders and stay alive.
I do enjoy a fun monster story, and Sarah Pinborough's Breeding Ground is just that. A fun monster story.
Even though I enjoyed the Hell out of it, there were a bit too many passages where the fun did not keep me from noticing that something was either missing from Pinborough's story, or handled improperly.
The first thing that bothered me about the book was the weak build up to the...
Well, I'm at a loss as to what word best describes the unleashing of the monsters? Is it an outbreak? An invasion? An infestation, maybe? Take your pick, because they can all be used to describe the monster apocalypse.
What is missing from the build up is a sense of impending doom and, more importantly, scope. It was difficult to impossible for me to see, much less accept, how something this big could be happening without there being more rumors or panic.
Not the running in the steets kind panic, but something a tad more muted, but noticeable.
Which brings to another, very important thing that bothered me about the opening. When narrator Matthew Edge and his doomed lover Chloe pay a visit to the doctor, the visit and its aftermath never felt credible. If those first 50 pages hadn't felt so lackadaisical, I might have been able to shrug my reaction off as coming from knowledge of my wife's profession (physician) hampering my ability to suspend my disbelief. But they weren't, so I can't.
Then the monsters show up and Breeding Ground starts moving, fast. For a while it was almost monster story heaven. There were enough gruesome, frightening set pieces to satisfy.
But when the survivors make it to what they hope is a safe haven, the "widows" fade too far into the background. The monsters are all but forgotten while an unsatisfying (and ludicrous) theory as to how and why the monster apocalypse happened is discussed, and the human survivors begin to turn on each other. It does not take all that long for tempers to flare and bring about the expected horrifying conclusion, which leads to the likewise expected ambiguous ending.
As harsh as I know my words sound, I did enjoy the monster action in Breeding Ground enough to be interested in reading Pinborough's companion follow-up, Feeding Ground. Even if this book's shortcomings kept me wondering, and asking, "What would Graham Masterton have done with this?"