Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Sam Taylor, a janitor at a private research facility, performs the seemingly harmless act of stealing a lab mouse. He takes his furry companion home and begins to care for it. He names the mouse, Felix. However, Felix isn’t just a mouse. Felix is something more. That something is growing and changing exponentially.
Felix is really more of a cross between The Thing and The Blob. Killing Sam, the monstrosity escapes into the deserts of Arizona and Nevada. It terrorizes the local wildlife and human population before settling in on prey holed up in Rose’s Tavern. Now, a former tribal cop, gambler, two junkies, and a bartender are left to deal with the creature or die trying.
Exponential, written by Adam Cesare, is your traditional creature feature. The focus is on Felix. On the surface, the creature is unstoppable. It consumes all other lifeforms adding the mass to its growing hulk. Felix knocks over trees and moves at speeds greater than that of an automobile. However, as with any good creature design, Felix has a weakness. It is up to those trapped in the tavern to discover that weakness.
Along the way, there is the stink of a possible government cover up and a chapter where the author appears to write himself into the story only to kill his fictional alter ego off in brilliant fashion. More importantly there is the setup for the inevitable sequel, because with creature features, there is almost always a sequel.
Exponential is not serious horror. No effort is made to be overly graphic or to provide much in the way of social commentary – with the possible exception of the monster’s weakness. It is meant to be fun. The novel is an escape. Cesare captures the essence of horror and sci-fi films from the 1950s and 1960s brilliantly. You can almost visualize the Navajo being played by an Italian wearing a really bad wig.
This said, Exponential is for the horror fan that digs Godzilla movies and jams to Misfits albums. There is an expected and accepted cheese factor here. This does not take away from the narrative, but rather fuels it. If the reader can suspend disbelief, they are in for a wild ride.