Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Review: Crawlers - Sam Enthoven
Acquired: Sent for review by Chicklish (Original post can be viewed here)
Published: April 1st 2010, Corgi Childrens
Pages: 272 pages, paperback
Summary: Crawlers is a survival horror story concerning four boys and four girls, trapped and fighting for their lives against a terrifying alien conspiracy.
My review: Last year I reviewed Blood Water by Dean Vincent Carter for Chicklish and commented on how much I loved the film feel it had. It’s always important for a horror novel to be visual and making me see the scene in my head is the most terrifying thing a writer can do. I’m really pleased to say that Sam Enthoven is a master at this and reading Crawlers was a brilliant experience from beginning to end.
Ben and Jasmine are our heroes in this fight against a parasitic plague of ‘crawlers’, horrific creatures that swarm the Barbican Theatre in London (the wonderful setting for this story) and take over the mind of their human host. Teamed with only their quick thinking and dysfunctional school friends, Ben and Jasmine have a matter of hours to escape the crawlers and their Queen, whose simple wish is to control the mind of every human on the planet.
One of the things that makes Crawlers so unique is the fact it is set (almost) in real time. The whole novel (bar the epilogue) takes place over a single evening and the fast pace Enthoven had to write at really keeps the tempo up the entire way through. It doesn’t slow down for a moment and by the time I turned the final page, I was exhausted.
The story really does play out like a classic horror film; just when you start to relax, another body slams into the wall/crawler bursts through the ceiling etc etc – you catch my drift. This is the novel’s strength but it’s also a weakness.
The short time frame means we don’t get a chance to bond with any of the characters. Enthoven tries to make us feel for Ben and Jasmine but there simply isn’t enough time to get to know them. In horror particularly, it’s important to care about the characters, otherwise there’s nothing to root for. But Ben spends far too much of the novel worrying that he isn’t popular enough, and not enough time crushing crawlers with a spade. And Jasmine is supposed to be the pretty girl who’s trying to build a better life for herself, and we're constantly reminded that she’s better than the other girls in her class.
Is she really, though? Sure, Lisa’s a weirdo (sorry to be blunt) and Lauren/Samantha (who are pretty interchangeable) are definitely portrayed a stereotypical chavs, but all Jasmine really seems to do is look down on them for not being quite as perfect as she is.
That said, the story of Crawlers is fantastic, the writing is great and the tension is brilliant.
I’d recommend this book to anybody who loves a bit of old-school horror, and fingers crossed we’ll be seeing a Sam Raimi style screen adaptation before too long.