Zero Day by Ezekiel Boone was just released today and showed up on my Kindle fifty minutes ago, and here I am reviewing it already. Before that boggles your mind too much, here is my disclaimer: I got this book early for free from the publisher via NetGalley. However, I did not read the book because it was free. Quite the opposite: I sought this book out on NetGalley because I couldn’t wait until the release date to read the next book in the series. I loved the first two (The Hatching and Skitter), and I wanted more as soon as possible.
For those new to the series, I’ll give an review of the trilogy in general before a specific one of this book. I do wonder why you aren’t reading a review of book 1, which would make more sense, but I won’t judge. I love the series’ premise, but I think each reader’s mileage will vary based on how they feel about spiders. The more arachnophobic you are, the creepier the scenario will be, and in a thriller/horror novel, that’s a plus. If spiders and tarantulas are like hamsters to you, then maybe you won’t get as much out of these books. At least I don’t find the concept of attacking hamsters all that interesting.
As someone who does find spiders creepy, I have to applaud the publisher for not alienating its prime audience with images of spiders on the cover. At most, they show some web with a hint of a segmented leg here or there. Arachnophobes can have unpleasant instinctive reactions to even the image of a spider, and many would not want to touch a book like This Book is Full of Spiders (which features them prominently on the cover), so I like that the publisher gave us a book we can hold. Also, it helps to enhance the suspense this way, and suspense is what the books excel at.
The books are at their best when hinting at imminent spidery horror. The suspense built in the first two volumes is fantastic. The characters and plot overall are pretty good, but the lurking menace of creepy spiders is what really makes the books worth reading. I recommend the trilogy as a whole.
The third book was a good conclusion to the series, but it still felt a little disappointing, mostly because it spent a lot of time on conflicts between people, and gave too little screen time to the stars of the show, especially since there were some new ones that the previous book had foreshadowed heavily. The human drama was good, but if I wanted a thriller about human problems I’d go read Tom Clancy. There was still some good creepy scenes, but the balance felt skewed too much towards the inter-human conflicts, at least if, like me, you came to see spiders chomping people.
The other issue that kept this from being as good as the first two was a probably inevitable aspect of it being the end of the series. The situation has to get resolved one way or the other, and as things are concluding, the anticipation of what could be coming next is over. And as I mentioned, suspense in the face of impending spidery doom is what the series does so delightfully well.
I would give the series as a whole 8/10, with the third book getting a 7/10. If you already read and enjoyed the first two books, then read the third one! It wraps up the story well and has some cool new wrinkles to the story. If you haven’t read any of them, then my recommendation of the series is proportional to your fear of spiders. If they creep you out, then you’ll love the series. I’m sad it’s over now, but I plan to read these books again in the future.