Warning: if you decide to read this book outside while you’re laying out by the pool and you’re only a third of the way through it and then you glance down and notice ants marching underneath your chair and then suddenly you find yourself only reading the book indoors, you should not feel ashamed.
You also shouldn’t feel ashamed if you accidentally flinch every time a new chapter starts and you just so happen to read those pages a little quicker, just in case those printed ants suddenly have the power to come off the page and then rip pieces of your face off.
But Nicole, they’re just ants. Ants don’t—
You obviously haven’t read Invasive by Chuck Wendig.
Yes, they can.
So, I discovered this book in a sorta roundabout way. I stumbled upon Wendig’s blog, which I immediately fell in love with. There’s hardly a week that goes by when I don’t share one of his posts and wonder how he manages to write directly to me and what I needed to hear. I started following him on Twitter and had the same effect, though I suck at social media, so I didn’t follow that as often. But one day, I remember him writing about anxiety, replying to a comment from a reader who was discussing a book he’d written, called Invasive. This was months ago and I wish I could find the comment exactly, to reference it. But it was enough that I wanted to read that book. I wanted to experience what those other readers were experiencing. Honestly, I wanted some advice on how to navigate and control anxiety and I thought, hell, maybe Invasive can teach me.
Granted, it took months before I made that happen, but a trip to the library and three days later and I can successfully claim that I’ve finally, indeed, read Invasive.
It wasn’t what I imagined it to be.
Though I can’t recall the conversation on Twitter precisely that piqued my interest, I assumed that the anxiety the character dealt with–which, in this case, is Hannah Stander–was similar to my own. A naive assumption, because anxiety comes in so many different forms and demons. The kind that Hannah dealt with–one that was ingrained because of her survivalist parents and is brutal enough to cause panic attacks–is a kind I have never experienced and one I’m not super familiar with. But as I kept reading, it’s also the kind I can’t imagine trying to cope with, because it’s intense. It’s difficult.
Yet Hannah did.
That, in and of itself, was inspiring as hell.
Because I was intrigued about how Hannah dealt with and managed her anxiety, I didn’t really know much about the plot before I picked up the book. I had no idea it’d be a murder investigation surrounding genetically modified ants. Yet it was a great break from my traditional epic fantasy and light science fiction niche.
Honestly, I didn’t truly get into the book until the ants started killing people.
Don’t get me wrong: the first third of the book was still great. Hell, I enjoyed this entire book thoroughly and will definitely be taking a look at Wendig’s other series. But once the investigation switched from figuring out the clues and piecing together the culprit(s) to being a battle of survival, told in glorious, gruesome detail, I was hooked. I flew through the last 200ish pages like a fiend (even to the point where, when I had to go to work and only had 20 pages left, I snuck the book back out once I got in my cubicle so I could finish it. Proud to report that I only nearly got caught, because I’m a sneaky sneak thief).
It was also written in such a way that you can’t help but fly through the pages. The shorter chapters, the breaks within the chapters, the short sentences, the well-tuned balance between in-scene description and fast-paced dialogue; all of those elements together, paired with a compelling plot and a fascinating focal point through Hannah, made this book practically impossible not to inhale.
It also, inevitably, inspired both an appreciation and a fear of ants. I also experienced formication at least a dozen times.
I highly recommend this book, friends. Just, maybe read it inside in a sealed room while you’re covering head to toe in anti-fungal spray.
Just to be safe.