Thursday, February 4, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Breeding Ground by Sarah Pinborough

About the Author

Sarah Pinborough is the author of The Hidden, The Reckoning, Breeding Ground, The Taken, Tower Hill, The Language of Dying, Feeding Ground (the sequel to Breeding Ground), and was featured in the anthology Waiting for October. Her next book is a departure from horror and will be published in March 2010. A Matter of Blood will be the first novel in a thriller trilogy. For more about Pinborough, visit her website, or check out these interviews.


I used to belong to a Horror E-mail Book Club, where I would be sent the first 20 pages or so of a horror novel over the course of a week. But then they changed it to a thriller book club instead. I was really upset about it, and I still miss it. Anyway, that's how I became hooked on Breeding Ground. I read the first 20 pages of it, ending in the middle of a scene where Matt and Chloe are about to visit a doctor to find out what's wrong with Chloe, and I HAD to find out what happened next. Unfortunately, none of the local bookstores carried it anymore, since it had been published a few years prior, and I couldn't find it at used bookstores or the library either. I ended up going to The World's Biggest Bookstore on my birthday one year just to get that book. For all the trouble I went to to get it, I ended up being disappointed. I think I still have those Horror Book Club e-mails saved in my inbox if anyone wants me to forward them.

Matt and Chloe are expecting a baby, but instead Chloe gives birth to a creature which looks like a giant spider. The spiders (later named "Widows") use women as hosts, killing all females in England. After the death of his beloved Chloe, Matt goes in search of other survivors. He finds a few men and, surprisingly, a few women. Together they seek a safe haven, away from the Widows.

The story moves along quickly, gripping you from page one (as I've already mentioned) and keeps you wanting to read on to see if Matt will discover more survivors and if they will live through encounters with the Widows.

The apocalyptic plot isn't anything new, neither is having aliens use humans as hosts, but having the alien-type-thing be a big spider is unique. And the explanation for how the Widows came into being is interesting and all too realistic. But killing off almost the entire female population in Britain is pretty anti-feminist. I understand that it had to be women, because men can't give birth, but maybe Pinborough could have developed an idea which didn't involve all the women dying. There are a few women survivors, but there is no explanation why they survived while every other woman died. Also, there is no talk in the book about whether the Widows are terrorizing the whole world, or just England. You would think that's the first thing the characters would want to find out, so they can escape the Widows (like in 28 Days Later), but I guess they never thought of that.

The worst part of the novel is unfortunately the most important part: the characters. Breeding Ground is told from the perspective of Matt, who is kind of a douche. Immediately after the love of his life dies, Matt starts sleeping with one of the only female survivors. No one else trusts her because, well she's a woman and they just assume she will become pregnant with a Widow. But of course Matt trusts her, endangering all the other mens' lives, just because he hopes to bang her. And she's only 21! He even keeps mentioning how young she is compared to him. SPOILER ALERT (just highlight it to read it) After the 21-year-old dies, he starts sleeping with the other only surviving woman. First of all, how dumb is this woman? Secondly, why does he never care about any of his lovers, moving onto another immediately after one dies? Thirdly, why is this jerk such a ladies man and why does he get the affections of all England's remaining women? I never warmed to any of the characters, but Matt was the only one I really hated.

I haven't read the sequel, Feeding Ground, yet but I heard it doesn't have any of the characters from this novel, so maybe it will be slightly better. Breeding Ground isn't a bad novel, I love apocalyptic stories and this one is interesting and well-written, but all the women dying, the characters not trying to find out what's going on in the rest of the world and jerky Matt bothered me.

Rating: 3/5

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