The Hatching is about two things; killer spiders, and Diet Coke.
So the spiders. They are a vicious flesh eating horde that hunt in packs, swing through the air on silken threads, and incubate and hatch in live hosts (e.g. people). They invade the world pretty much, and the invasion is told through differing perspectives; a troop of US Marines, an FBI agent struggling to protect his family, the US President and her staff, a family on a Scottish island, a group of survivalists in the US town of Desperation, and more.
Diet Coke meanwhile is a multi million dollar brand that has already taken over the world. But you already knew that. How do these themes come together? Through product placement so obvious it’s offensive. Diet Coke is mentioned roughly 10 times, usually with a complimentary description of its effects and taste and powers to revive. If it was a film, the characters would be raising the tins to the camera and smiling.
If it was a film. That’s another brazenly cynical thing about the book. It is a project engineered to make moohlah through a concept sure to sell books and pack movie theatres. It reads like it. It’s a brisk, pacy read (352 pages, around 8 hours for the audio book), full of rapid cuts between scenes (especially the final chapter) and spectacular set pieces (such as a freighter ship full of spiders running aground in LA). The gore is pretty dialled down given the subject the matter, so it won’t scare away the studio bosses. You could probably get away with rating it a 12, 15 at a push.
Characters and situations are left undeveloped and hanging for the next sequel instalment.
The audio book is a crisply read by George Newbern, who sounds like he is enjoying himself, and who probably consumed a crate of Diet Coke on the job. He certainly sounds preppy.
Diet Coke is appropriate, this is horror lite, quickly consumed to give you a brief, forgettable buzz.