The web is closing in...
This one surprised me, upon starting it, I had really no idea what it was about. The book jacket boasts an awesome design, with coloured page edges bearing the inscription “The web is closing in”, but really gives nothing away about the books contents.
So I was pleased upon reading the first few chapters to find a mysterious tale which elicited some real suspense. It was genuinely gripping and, even though it’s aimed at younger readers, I found myself unable to put it down.
Spiders is the sequel to Hoyle’s first novel Thirteen, though thankfully, knowledge of the first book isn’t really required. The few references to the original story give enough info on the overarching plot that I never really felt lost.
The story follows Adam, the young protagonist of Thirteen who, after escaping a cult, has settled back down to a normal life until, on a school ski-trip he learns the truth, that the cult are not the only ones who are after him.
The book also introduces new character Abbie, who follows her father, and undercover police officer as he is tasked with infiltrating a mysterious group who have been holding meetings in a remote Scottish castle.
Here’s where we run into the first problem with the book, Abbie is a far superior character to Adam, yet is given second billing. As the book wore on I found it impossible to warm to Adam who seems to lack anything in the way of personality. While Adam is away skiing for half the book, Abbie has already infiltrated the castle, uncovered the truth of the cult that runs it and has begun to formulate a plan to take them down.
She’s an intelligent and courageous female lead and when the focus shifts to Adam, a character who wouldn’t feel out of place in the most bland of boybands, you’ll find yourself wishing that the story will return to Abbie as soon as possible.
The about the author page, makes mention that Tom Hoyle is the pseudonym of a high school headmaster, who began writing this series as an attempt to get his students off their iphones and into books. It says he intended to write a book with as much action as any Hollywood film, with a surprise every few pages and I must say he’s succeeded.
As I mentioned in the intro, I found this book to be genuinely suspenseful. The mysterious castle, the sinister hooded figures of the cult, the hallucinations (or are they hallucinations?) brought on by the drugs they put in the food. It all builds to a creepy atmosphere that I can see resonating well with its intended audience.
However, when Hoyle said he wanted a surprise every few pages, he wasn’t kidding. Each chapter is little more than four to six pages long, and when every one of them ends with a “DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNN” moment, it gets predictable very quickly.
The slow, suspenseful pace of the book also wears out as the book reaches its climax and the story becomes much more action driven and a little harder to read. I’m not a huge fan of action scenes in general but the ones contained here put me off the book quite a bit as they were pretty hard to follow.
The book isn’t perfect, but when it works it works really well. It’s billed as a YA novel but it’s really for the 12-14 age group and I can see it doing really well there. It’s creepy and suspenseful, Abbie is an awesome character and the villain, while a little clichéd, is interesting. Had this series been available when I was younger, I’d have lapped it up and even now I’d happily check out the first book in the series and, as long as the author focuses more on Abbie than Adam in the inevitable follow up, I’d happily pick up the next book too.
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I received this book for review through GoodReads FirstReads