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. – Goodreads
A while back I read The Colony by A.J Colucci. While I was entertained, I was less than impressed. and wondered if anyone else had taken on the same premise and done it better. Well, it took about 4 years, but Chuck Wendig proved himself up to the task with Invasive.
Ants are creepy, so it’s only natural to believe that genetically modified ants can be downright scary. And the ants in Invasive are definitely scary. There were certain scenes in this book where I thought fervently to myself that I was glad it wasn’t summer. And then just as quickly wished it was so I could go out and eradicate any ants from around my house. Just in case. You know, so they didn’t swarm my house, cut off triangular patches of my skin, and march off with it. And the worst thing about the ants in this book is that the idea that someone would do this is totally believable! I’m sure we aren’t that far off from someone actually being able to accomplish it.
Invasive takes place in the same universe as Zer0es (another novel of his I rated highly). A couple of the characters from it have roles in this book. You do not need to have read it though. (Though I’d suggest you read it anyways. It’s a great read.) The main character, Hannah, is a very interesting one. Her job, as a futurist, is to see the worst ways things could play out. Given her background and the issues she deals with, I can’t imagine the stress her job puts her under. Makes you admire her basically from the get-go in Invasive. Gotta love a strong, intelligent, brave female in science fiction!
Invasive maintains a steady pace with things constantly ratcheting up. It definitely earns a spot in the thriller genre. Most of the characters are just there for bit roles before gruesome deaths. I’m completely fine with that as Wendig doesn’t try to make us believe most of them are important. (Though I’m not sure what I think of Ray. I spent most of the novel wanting to smack the crap out of him. His part in the story didn’t give me any pleasure.) There are no huge info-dumps. The science mentioned is talked about in the most general of terms.
Overall, Invasive is a well-written science fiction thriller. If bugs give you the creeps, you’ll definitely enjoy the formication this book gives you. In fact, certain people would probably classify this more as horror than science fiction. I just wish it would have ended a bit more darkly than it did.
My question for you is: Whats your stance on creepy-crawlies? Can you stand them in your books, or does the thought of them make you pick something else instead?