Skitter (Hatching Series #2)

Skitter (Hatching Series #2)

by Ezekiel Boone

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501125072
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication date: 05/02/2017
Series: Hatching Series , #2
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Ezekiel Boone lives in upstate New York with his wife and children. He is the internationally bestselling author of The Hatching, Skitter, and Zero Day.

Read an Excerpt

Skitter

National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland


The goat did not want to go through the door. The poor thing was terrified, bleating and bucking and pissing on the floor of the lab. It was all the two soldiers could do to get the goat into the NIH Clinical Center’s biocontainment unit’s air lock. Professor Melanie Guyer could sympathize. She’d spent her entire career studying spiders, was a standout in her field, but she’d never seen spiders like these. In her opinion, people were scared of spiders for no good reason. Or, rather, that had been her opinion. She’d changed her mind. She’d seen what these spiders could do to rats. Jesus. The whole world had seen what they could do to people.

It had been a week since Los Angeles. Longer since she’d had a real sleep. What was it? Ten days since she’d gotten an egg sac overnighted from Peru to her lab at American University? FedEx, she thought, had never shipped a more dangerous package.

Ten thousand years. That’s how old the egg sac had been. It had been dug up near the Nazca Lines—great line drawings etched in the high desert of Peru—by a PhD student in archaeology who was friends with one of Melanie’s graduate students, Julie Yoo. The egg sac had been buried near the drawing of a spider. The rest of the Nazca line drawings, birds and animals and geometric designs, were maybe two thousand years old. But not the spider drawing. The spider was different. Older. Much older. According to Julie’s friend, the box and other items they dug up near the spider were ten thousand years old.

Maybe the crackpots weren’t so far off in their theories about Nazca. How was it that an ancient civilization could have constructed such beautiful and precise images? On one level, the how was simple: rocks removed so that the white earth underneath became lines in the red dirt. The plateaus were protected from the weather so that the Nazca Lines could survive for thousands of years. Two thousand years. Or ten thousand years. Old enough that the question of how was also unsolvable, because they weren’t really drawings in a traditional sense. At ground level, they were simple lines and shapes. No meaning. But from above, they came so alive you could feel the beating pulse of these people praying to ancient gods. They didn’t have airplanes then, they couldn’t fly, so how had they designed them? Who knew? Melanie thought. Archaeologists had agreed that the simplest answer was that somebody had simply done a good job of planning. The Nazca had made the designs, staked out lines, and removed the stones. The egg sac had been found buried in a wooden box along with some of the stakes that the Nazca had used.

Careful measurements and good engineering. Human ingenuity. Math. Science. That’s what she believed in. At least that’s what she used to believe in. Now? She was beginning to be open to the idea that the Nazca Lines could have been made some other way, and for some other purpose, too.

She used to think that the ancient Nazca designs were a sort of prayer. She’d prayed to them herself, once, years ago. Back when she and Manny were still a couple, back when doctors had told her that having a baby would require an act of God. Not that seeing the Nazca Lines or breathing a fervent prayer as her plane circled above them had done any good. She and Manny had split up, and she was left with her lab and her spiders. But that was the thing. Maybe the older drawing, the drawing of the spider, was there as something different from the other lines. Not a prayer.

Maybe the spider was a warning.

Ten thousand years was a long time in human history. A blink of the eye in the history of the earth, but beyond the scope of human records. It was a span of time in which meaning was lost.

Maybe if they’d been able to understand the warning, her world wouldn’t have gone to hell.

Melanie rubbed her eyes. So tired, but she didn’t have time to sleep. She didn’t want to sleep. She was afraid of falling asleep. She knew what she’d see if she fell asleep: Bark, her graduate student and former lover, cut open on the operating table, his body shot through with silk and egg sacs. Patrick hovering over the surgeon and the nurses, taking photos with the lab’s camera. Melanie standing on the other side of the glass. Julie Yoo running down the hall toward her, too late with the information. And then, so quick: the spiders hatching from inside Bark’s body.

Melanie rubbed her eyes harder. She didn’t want to picture it. The blood and the gore were bad, but worse were the spiders themselves. A black wave. A single thing made of a thousand individual organisms.

She’d never been afraid of spiders or bugs of any kind. Not once in her whole life had she been grossed out. When other kids or adults shrank away from creepy crawlies, Melanie leaned in, fascinated. What made them work?

But these were different.

She reached out for her coffee and then stopped herself. Her hand was shaking. She was jittery. Too much caffeine. Not enough sleep. Too many nerves. What had it been? Ten days? Eleven? Twelve since she’d gotten the egg sac? Time was elastic.

The goat screamed again. That was the only way to describe it. Not a bleat, but a scream. It kicked out and caught one of the soldiers in the thigh, but the man just swore and wrapped his arms tighter around the goat. The pair—Melanie had stopped bothering to try to learn their names a few days ago—finally forced the goat through the door of the air lock and then jumped out, closing the door behind them. The poor goat stood in the air lock, forlorn. Forsaken. It had stopped bleating and stood there, shivering.

The soldiers stopped for a moment, catching their breaths. They looked out of place in the pristine lab, their combat uniforms a stark contrast to the lab coats and jeans and T-shirts worn by Melanie and the other scientists, who came in and out with such frequency that Melanie finally had to order armed guards to secure the entire floor.

Armed guards. That was her new reality. Armed guards, a repurposed hospital room for a bedroom so that she could be closer to her research, and spiders that could strip a goat to its bones in less than a minute.

The first soldier went through the airlock protocol, going down the list one by one. Once he was done, the second soldier double-checked each step himself. Then they turned to look at Melanie. Everybody was looking at Melanie. It felt like everything was on her.

Two weeks ago, her biggest worry had been how to break off her ridiculous relationship with Bark. But now, suddenly, she had an entire floor of the National Institutes of Health to command. She could order armed guards to make sure that she and Julie Yoo and the three other authorized scientists were not disturbed. Between her ex-husband, Manny, and his boss, the president of the United States, whatever she wanted just seemed to happen.

When she said she needed her equipment, overnight, presto chango, her entire setup at American University was duplicated at the NIH. Duplicated. There was even a Grinnell College mug on the desk, almost exactly like the one on her desk at American, but without the tiny chip on the rim. Actually, her equipment wasn’t duplicated: it was improved and added to. There was new lab equipment she didn’t know how to use even if she’d wanted to. And if she went anywhere outside the lab, she was trailed by five Secret Service agents. Not that she’d done more than go outside once or twice to stand in the sunlight and marvel at the hundreds of soldiers ringing the National Institutes of Health. She was, according to Manny and President Stephanie Pilgrim, the most important woman in the world right now. There were other scientists working on the question of how to deal with these spiders, of course, but Manny and Steph trusted her. They were counting on her. She was, in their eyes, the only hope for the human race.

No pressure.

What she needed right now was to figure out what in God’s name these spiders were, because they sure as hell weren’t like any others she’d ever seen. When the egg sac had come to her office from Peru, she’d been excited to see it begin hatching. For a few hours it seemed like she’d been on the verge of a big discovery, the nearly two dozen spiders in the insectarium arousing an intense curiosity. They didn’t act like spiders, at least not as she knew them, and they were hungry. Then she’d come to understand that the spiders weren’t only in her lab, and that there were certainly more than two dozen of them. Much more. Hundreds of thousands of them. Millions. Outbreaks in China, India, Europe, Africa, South America. And in the United States. How many people were dead already?

She couldn’t think about it. Not now. Right now she needed to focus on these spiders, because she’d been tasked with figuring out how to stop them.

“Okay,” she said. “Julie, we shooting?”

Julie Yoo gave the thumbs-up. She stood over a bank of computer monitors, supervising the three techs who were running six Phantom Cameras, capable of shooting ten thousand frames per second. Whatever happened to the goat, it was going to be recorded in excruciating detail so Melanie could play it back at a speed that made a bullet look slow.

A small crowd gathered by the glass. There’d been large crowds before Melanie had ordered the lab cleared of all nonessential personnel. Now there was only Dr. Will Dichtel, Dr. Michael Haaf, Dr. Laura Nieder, and a dozen or so graduate students and lab assistants. Dichtel was a chemist who’d carved out a specialization in entomological toxicology. He’d made himself a small fortune synthesizing a modified version of the brown recluse spider’s venom that was now used in making microchips. Haaf was from MIT, an arachnid specialist, like her, and Nieder was there because she worked for the Pentagon trying to figure out how to adapt insect swarm behavior for the battlefield.

Melanie went to the air lock and went through the same checklist as the two soldiers had. You couldn’t be too careful. She knew what was coming. She looked back at Julie, who gave her the thumbs-up again, and then at the scientists crowding the glass. Her hand hovered over the keypad.

The goat was staring at her.

The poor thing was shaking so badly.

Melanie hit the button that opened the inner door of the air lock.

And they came to feed.

Customer Reviews

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Skitter: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
JuliW More than 1 year ago
I am afraid of spiders....or anything that even looks like it might be an 8-legged creepy crawly. When I was little, I was bitten by a poisonous spider. The bite required a trip to the ER and a nice chunk of tissue removed from my leg. Needless to say, arachnids moved to the top of my Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! list. So, for me to read and absolutely love a book series about flesh-eating spiders....the books have to be good! Skitter is the second book in The Hatching trilogy by Ezekiel Boone. In the first book, ancient spiders that have been dormant for a very long time suddenly begin decimating the world. With the ease of worldwide transportation in the modern world, the spiders soon spread to every continent. They can also lay eggs inside the bodies of living humans who spread them without knowing they are carriers. In this second book, the original wave of spiders has died, but egg sacs are everywhere. In the United States, the military is trying to contain a possible second wave. The president is faced with some very tough decisions. Her advisors recommend using nuclear weapons as China did to destroy areas with heavy infestations of egg sacs, but others come up with other ideas, such as a weapon using sound waves to kill the spiders. With the discovery of mysterious giant egg sacs in scattered places around the world and changes in behavior of the living spiders, scientists aren't sure what is going to happen next....but they know it won't be good. The spider infestation is far from over as some thought when the first wave died off....it's changing. Can the human race fight back and survive? This book is definitely the middle novel in a trilogy. It has some great action in it, and shows the responses to the catastrophe around the world. Plus there is some great character and plot development. But, it's definitely a bridge between the exciting first book in this series, The Hatching, to the final book, Zero Day. Skitter brings into focus the aftermath of the first wave of spiders and the decisions that were made to protect people and destroy the spiders. It's quite apparent that those efforts failed....I mean how do you effectively stop the movement of millions of flesh-eating spiders who lay millions of eggs in any hidden dark space they crawl through? There is no way to kill every spider or destroy every egg. An unwinnable scenario creates desperation....a situation that requires making horrific choices. I enjoyed this book. It has lots of action, suspense and creepy crawly spiders! I'm definitely ready to find out what happens in the final book. Luckily, Zero Day awaits on my e-reader! Ezekiel Boone has a new book coming out in December 2018, The Mansion, about a family who moves into a house equipped with the most intuitive and advanced computer ever designed. Bad things happen, of course. I already have the book on my wishlist. I enjoyed the first two books in The Hatching series so much that I'm definitely on-board for Boone's new book. On to Zero Day! I can't wait to find out how this series ends! Do your worst, Boone! I'm ready!
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
I am really enjoying this series. I have had a copy of this book for a long time. I had planned to read it around the publication date but for some reason it didn't happen. I am glad that I was able to get to it now because it really is a great story. This is the second book in the Hatching series which is a series that really does need to be read in order since this is a continuation of the story from the first book. I ended up enjoying this book just as much as the first book. I really like the way that this story is told. I don't think it would work for every book but it does work well with this story. We get to see the outbreak from a lot of different points of view instead of following only a handful of characters. Sometimes we get a point of view and never encounter that character again. Other times, we get to see a point of view at various points in the story. All of these points of view helps to really paint a picture of the outbreak across the globe. The spider outbreak in the first book was bad and many had hoped that would get better. It looks like it might be getting better. The spiders seem to have died off a bit and the pods are being taken care of. Unfortunately, things can get worse. Much worse. The spider outbreak takes a turn that is truly frightening and it was really interesting to see how things were developing and how the key characters would deal with it. This was a really exciting story. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next with the spider outbreak and was also eager to find out what the authorities would decide to do to handle things. I couldn't imagine being responsible or having people look to you for answers during a time like this. Whenever I had a guess about how things would go, I would quickly find out that I was wrong so I just kept turning pages to enjoy the story. I would recommend this series to others. This creepy crawly story was very original and entertaining. I ended up most of the book in a single evening because I had to see how things would work out. I am really excited to start the next book, Zero Day, very soon. I received an advance reader edition of this book from Atria/Emily Bestler Books via NetGalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed book two in the series. More is learned about the spiders . We follow the characters from different parts of the world and see how they are dealing with this crisis. The only bad thing is having to wait for the next book which is supposed to be released sometime in 2018. Looking forward to it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the first book, 2nd book even better, can't wait for the next book.
SherryF More than 1 year ago
I HATE SPIDERS! Skitter by Ezekiel Boone is the continuation of The Hatching and the spiders are winning. If you weren’t afraid of spiders before, you will be after reading about the spider apocalypse. Millions of people around the world are dead and there is no end in sight. Melanie never thought she would become the most important woman in the world…but, here she is and the pressure is intense as she struggles to save the world. Would she succeed? Agent Mike Rich had been at ground zero, finding the very first spider and he hasn’t stopped since. People’s true colors come out when disaster occurs, and we have our share of heroes and villains. Do any of us know how we would act in a time of crisis? I would hope I would rise to the occasion. How about you? Would the war games, flu epidemics and disaster protocols the government has practiced and had in place for years…decades…succeed? We are about to find out. If you want something to keep you looking out the corner of your eye, jumping at the slightest perceived movement, slapping at the creepy crawlie feeling running up and down your arms, READ THIS! I voluntarily reviewed Skitter by Ezekiel Boone.
pet1210 More than 1 year ago
Skitter continues right where The Hatching ended. The first wave of spiders has died but the second wave is coming... Just like the first book, this reads like a gripping action movie that you can't help but stare at incredulously whilst wishing you weren't seeing/feeling half of what you are. I'm surprised at how well all the different perspectives worked. It never became confusing at all. I liked that there was more emphasis on the human stories this time around. A great blend of horror, adventure, thriller, drama, mystery and apocalyptic fiction. I really enjoyed the humor, too. While I've learnt from the previous book not to get too attached to any of the characters - some characters' purpose seems to be simply as spider food - I'm still particularly fond of the characters up in Scotland. But I still can't work out how they fit into the bigger picture. The ending leaves room for the final installment. Not quite as scary as the first book, but great fun and pure escapism. I'm looking forward to the third book (and the movie?!).
BooksnKisses More than 1 year ago
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 4 This book makes my skin crawl. I despise spiders so much and honestly this would be one of my greatest fears. I am planning on stocking up on duct tape and anything flammable. Once again Mr. Boone has brought us back to a world that is in pure chaos. Where you are on your own to fight this enemy. As we read we learn some are more prepared than others. But will it be enough? There was a lot that happened in this book. So many people lost. So many people trying to save who and what is left of the world. Is it ever too late for hope? I can’t even imagine what will be next in this series. I can’t tell if we are in for a total annihilation of the human race or if they can be saved. If you are looking for a read that will literally make your skin crawl you need to check out this series!! Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley & Atria Books in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Skittter is the second of Ezekiel Boone’s superbly entertaining, cinematic, and down-right fun end of the world novel. The Hatching, the initial entry was simply great fun and Skitter is even better. We pick up where we left off, spiders of unknown origin, have invaded the planet. Our heroes, if there are any, are the scientists madly working to find an answer to the ever-worsening catastrophe. So far, without any luck. The book follows a variety of characters as they cope with this invasion. What happens next is anybody’s guess. The only good news is that there is another installment on the way. Do yourself a favor – buy Skitter and The Hatching and settle back for tons of fun.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars They’re back and I have been waiting too long to read this sequel! The spider’s infestation has infected the whole world including the U.S. Every country is coming up with their own plan of attack to rid themselves of this deadly crisis. These black-legged creatures are making their way into barns, homes, garages, anyplace which is dark enough for them to lay their egg sacs. It’s staggering the amount of egg sacs these arachnids are producing and it’s staggering the number of arachnids these egg sacs will produce. Their destruction has everyone on edge. This was a great novel that carried over many of the features from the first novel. I liked that they had many of the same characters. I also enjoyed that it showed many of the main characters relying on others to assist them in their work. The main characters were not handing out commands, it was a team effort, people went to the main character for guidance and support and the main character welcomed input from others. I enjoyed the thoughts and the sights from the other parts of the globe and the community. The stories of their initial reaction to what was occurring, how they tried to prepare for what they thought might occur and their thoughts for their future, all of these changed depending on where that person was located and who that individual was. It was interesting following these stories throughout the novel. I didn’t think this novel was as intense or as creepy as the first novel, it was more of a deeper look into the behavior of the spiders and analyzing it. I am not ready to wait for another sequel though. Seriously, another cliffhanger? I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Atria Books in exchange for an honest review.
tpolen More than 1 year ago
I just finished the first book in this series in early summer, so everything that happened was fairly fresh in my mind or came back to me pretty easily. The Hatching primarily acquaints the reader with numerous characters and their stories and reveals the origin and invasion of the spiders. Skitter is more along the lines of 'the world is going to hell in a handbasket if somebody doesn't think of something' kind of book. And the future isn't too bright since the spiders seem wicked intelligent and continue to outsmart the humans. The author does an admirable job with characterization of this diverse cast, and some story lines converge for various reasons. Tough decisions are made, but a solution still isn't in sight. Again, I didn't realize there would be another book in this series. As with the first novel, many pages are spent on characters and their backstories that aren't integral to the plot and I wonder if this series could have been condensed to two books instead of three (I'm assuming there's not a fourth?). This is a quick read with adequate pacing and conflict that I'd recommend to horror/sci-fi fans. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This is the second in the series of the spider-apocalypse. The first being 'The Hatching". This one starts after the spiders have hatched and killed millions of people and now they have retreated. They have only hit a few cities, but they are all over the world. There is no rhyme or reason to the location of the attacks. Los Angeles is under a quarantine. No one is allowed out. However, some people do get out before this quarantine was set up. Why are these people not allowed out? What is the meaning of these hanging sacs of silky woven threads? What is the glow coming from some of them? Is there going to be another attack? This was a strange series for me to request as I absolutely hate spiders. However, while reading it, I hear the word spiders, but I'm not cringing or freaking out about them. When they are attacking, they move in masses and the author calls it a black mass. So. . . if your afraid of spiders, don't let that deter you. This is an awesome series and one that will definitely keep you awake at night. It's interesting how each country with a infiltration of these spiders chooses to handle the situation. The Chinese set off an nuclear bomb and destroy much more than just the city being attacked. A great series that I highly recommend. Thanks to Atria Books and Net Galley for approving and allowing me to read and review this utterly thrilling read! Definitely unputdownable!