Invasive by Chuck Wendig
Narrator: Xe Sands
Series: Zer0es #2
Published by Harper Audio on 16 August 2016
Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction
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"Think Thomas Harris, Will Graham and Clarice Starling rolled into one and pitched on the knife's edge of a scenario that makes Jurassic Park look like a carnival ride. Another rip-roaring, deeply paranoid thriller about the reasons to fear the future." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
Hannah Stander is a consultant for the FBI - a futurist who helps the agency with cases that feature demonstrations of bleeding-edge technology. It's her job to help them identify unforeseen threats: hackers, AIs, genetic modification, anything that in the wrong hands could harm the homeland.
Hannah is in an airport, waiting to board a flight home to see her family, when she receives a call from Agent Hollis Copper. "I've got a cabin full of over a thousand dead bodies," he tells her. Whether those bodies are all human, he doesn't say.
What Hannah finds is a horrifying murder that points to the impossible - someone weaponizing the natural world in a most unnatural way. Discovering who - and why - will take her on a terrifying chase from the Arizona deserts to the secret island laboratory of a billionaire inventor/philanthropist. Hannah knows there are a million ways the world can end, but she just might be facing one she could never have predicted - a new threat both ancient and cutting-edge that could wipe humanity off the earth.
©2016 Chuck Wendig (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers
Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it works just fine as a stand-alone.
This is my new favorite creepy crawlies book. Such delicious suspension and that near neurotic fake feel of something crawling on you! Hannah Stander is a very interesting character. In fact, she may be my new favorite action hero. As a consultant for the FBI and a futurist (someone who studies cutting-edge tech and what that could mean for humanity), she’s been called in by her friend Agent Hollis Cooper to check out a very odd death. Dead ants litter the scene which includes one dead and disfigured human. This launches Hannah into a world of bio-engineered insects, the creepy brainchild of billionaire Einar Geirsson. He keeps his weird and potentially deadly insects on an isolated island that is part of Hawaii. Is he truly a philanthropist, as all the hype claims, or does he have a more sinister motivation? I loved that this character kept me guessing until near the end.
I loved the suspense of this book. From the beginning, I could practically taste the fear and danger my favorite characters were in. Hannah’s unique upbringing gives her skills to deal with this potentially world-wide disaster that she stands on the cusp of. However, she has plenty of mixed feelings about that upbringing, her parents being Preppers and their household rather isolated from the rest of the world. While this skill set serves her well, I could see that it cost her something to call upon those reluctantly hard-earned abilities.
Now I like my bugs a lot. I have a healthy respect for them and when possible, I will save them from peril by simply putting them outside. So I reveled in the all the bug descriptions and the various kinds of insects that had cameos. I especially loved the side character Ez Choi, an entomologist and good friend to Hannah. She’s got brains and snark and a deep fascination with denizens of the insect world.
As all that build up promised, the bug outbreak was full of danger and death. The insects are single-minded in their pursuit of life and it took a mastermind to engineer them. Alas, the bugs aren’t the only thing Hannah has to worry about. There’s plenty of human foes as well and I was mightily pleased to see that they had a variety of motivations for their actions. More than once I did worry that Hannah wouldn’t make it out of this tale alive. So many pitfalls! I was on the edge of my seat for the entire second half of the book. Excellent read with a satisfying ending!
Narration: Xe Sands was such a great fit for this story. Her narration was spot on. I loved her voice for Hannah, especially when her complicated feelings towards her parents came into play. All of Sands character voices were distinct and her male voices were believable. There we no technical issues with the recording. Plenty of accents (Scandinavian, Philippino, Hawaiian, etc.) came into play in this tale and Sands pulled them all off with skill.