Written by: Tera Kirk
I’m really torn about Hatched. On the one hand, my copy was riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes some simple editing could’ve fixed; even worse, there are loads of characters, but no clear protagonists. And yet, something in Davis’s tale keeps me wanting more.
The first book in Jason R. Davis’s Invisible Spiders series, Hatched introduces us to the town of Hammond, Illinois. An infection is spreading–one involving tiny flesh-eating spiders. By the time you see them, you’re as good as dead.
Davis tells the story through many, many characters’ eyes: a police officer, the town doctor, his wife, a long-bullied young man who works in a store and is plotting his revenge. Juggling tons of characters while making them memorable is extremely difficult to do. When done well, this technique leads to stories that are packed with action involving lots of people the audience is emotionally invested in. Stephen King–a clear influence of Davis’s–is a master at this, able to write 1,000-page books like Under the Dome that are hard to put down.
However, Davis’s writing isn’t as deft as King’s. Instead of judiciously choosing details or showing us what people are like in their interactions, he stops the action to give us backstory, says the same thing over and over again, or does both at once. (The story is also hampered by lots of grammar and spelling errors–confusion between “its” and “it’s” and “there/their/there,” lots of misspellings and missing words. A character is even given the wrong name at one point.) I never felt like there was a core group of characters. In an author’s note Davis mentions that the main character “is barely in this beginning,” and that’s unfortunate. While Hatched is operating on a townwide scope a la Under the Dome, without protagonists to hang the story on, I feel adrift in its sea of action and death. Hopefully, the next installment will sharpen its focus some more.
I hold out this hope because, despite these weaknesses, I want to see where this story goes. Yes, that’s partly because Hatched feels like the first act of a film rather than a complete story. But there’s also the chocolate-and-peanut-butter combination of spiders and body horror, and all the action is exciting and the characters could be interesting if the story lets me know them better.