If you have any problems with arachnophobia, drop your copy of The Hatching and run far, far away. These are not the talking magical spiders that spin webs to save their pig friend; these are the smaller, albeit considerably more numerous, versions of the creatures from Eight Legged Freaks. Granted, any monster if usually not going to go down as a classic in the eyes of history. The Hatching includes a lot of the general tropes that you would expect from a Syfy Channel original movie. The story features a pretty large cast of characters who are somewhat whittled down over the course of the novel due to hungry spiders. Each chapter jumps between these various characters reacting as the outbreak spreads further and further across the globe, both in terms of the spider attacks and the responses being taken by various world governments and their militaries.
A lot of the characters seem to not do too much for the story. Some of them are obviously going to be important in the next book while others were just there to get eaten. A few of the deceased characters appear in only one chapter and, usually, serve to display what the spiders are capable of to the reader. The others who die tend to play minor roles in the story, such as informing the outside world about what is going on or inadvertently spreading the spider swarms further. The surviving characters seem to have been given “all or nothing” roles; they are either immensely important to the plot or spend the entirety of the book sitting around doing nothing. Assumingly the characters on the latter end of that spectrum will be more important later on in the series but for this book, their existence felt kind of unnecessary.
The spiders themselves fit into a classic monster role. Most monster stories will have either one really big monster or a swarm of smaller ones, The Hatching obviously falling into the second category. As is also the case for most fictional monsters, these creatures are significantly more intelligent than the average animal. The spiders are able to coordinate their attacks, hunting as swarms despite most real spiders working as solitary predators. They also display the ability to find prey over distance and are creative in getting to their target by sneaking under doors, finding open windows, climbing up the water spout, etc. Most of the encounters between man and spider throughout the book can be summed up as, “Ahhhh! Spiders!”
The Hatching feels unnecessarily long. The book comes out at over 350 pages and feels like the story that it told could have been squeezed into ⅓ of that. There are many chapters where the characters are running around trying to figure out what is happening and what they should do; while that is realistic, it makes the story progression feel like a crawl. This slower state feels drug out by the aforementioned characters that are killed quickly as well as the ones who do not really contribute to plot in this first book. Now maybe this will all be made better in the following book; the characters that did next to nothing will surely do something and the pacing of the second book in the series could end up being much faster. Viewing The Hatching as an individual novel, it is a lot of sitting and waiting.