Pregnant women are disgusting and cause a great deal of headache, only to spew forth nasty little insects from their wombs whose sole purpose is to ruin men’s lives and destroy the world.
That’s either a quote directly from my husband, or the underlying message of Sarah Pinborough’s novel Breeding Ground.
I had to keep reminding myself that this book was written by a woman, because the men who took center stage were completely selfish and unlikable jerks…but none of them seemed aware of it. I came to the conclusion that these were men written through the eyes of a woman who thought she was getting it right, but really just thought poorly of men. The result was a bunch of incredibly illogical, one-dimensional male characters, who seemed -- at their best moments -- stereotypes of all the worst aspects of a man.
It’s hard to find sociopaths relatable. After spending some time with the men of Breeding Ground I found myself rooting for the spiders, hoping to see each of the men devoured slowly -- sarlacc style. As far as they knew, every woman on Earth suddenly died – their mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, aunts – every woman they’ve ever come into contact with is gone, and their primary concern is only for their own skin, their hunger, their fear. Very little time is spent on mourning, very little thought turns sympathetic to the women. In fact, it’s not the loss of the narrator’s wife and child that haunts him, but rather the man he saw being eaten and left to die horribly when he ran instead of helping him. He goes from losing his wife to hooking up with every remaining adult female in the book, and only seemed somewhat attached to the very last one. Even with her, his greatest concern for her welfare stems from his own selfish need to not go through the loss of another wife and child.
When the group of survivors first all get together and start sharing their stories, the main character hears the youngest of them talking about how he killed his mother in the tub before she had a chance to spawn a monster. For all this boy knew, his mother was very ill, but he kills her with a hammer and then doesn’t bother to report it or even go back out into the world until he no longer has TV and radio. Seriously, I have two teenage boys of my own, and I know sometimes the TV is the most important thing in their world, but that it was the loss of his MTV that disturbed him enough to step outside, and not the death of his mother or even the reek of her rotting corpse, really says something about that kid, and it’s not that he was “strong” as the narrator implies.
I feel the author mistakes masculine strength and the ability to “soldier on” with being devoid of emotion and completely self involved. Or maybe they were all just really really British, and I just couldn’t follow.
On the aspect of this sudden apocalypse, however, I found a lot of it very hard to believe. I think if women just stopped coming out of their houses one day, it would be all over the news and internet. I think very few people would be able to hide away in their houses without knowing something was going on. That no one seemed to notice anything negative taking place anywhere but right under their noses in their own homes, smacks of TSTL characters. But again…maybe they were just really British?
Then there is the issue of combating the spiders. Deaf people’s blood? F’serious? And…we’re not going to explain that in any way? All the science in Breeding Ground reminded me of that scene of the writing class from Throw Mama from the Train: http://youtu.be/a17ul-afTCE
It’s generally a good idea to know a little bit about your subject before writing on it. GMO’s caused this – how? The women (and later the men) became infected – how? The scientist’s first idea to help cure the first infected male is to have him drink a pint of human blood – why? Why not try to cut them out first? Why not try to inject the lumps with a little bit of blood first? Why not try targeted radiation? Chemotherapy? Why not try any number of treatments used currently to treat other infested cycts like in cases of Echinococcosis?
I hate spiders. I have an honest to god phobia of them, but even I had a hard time being afraid of these critters once some explanations about their origins came out. It stopped looking like something that had some remote possibility to happen one day, or even just some strange, terrifying occurrence having an unexplainable origin such as aliens or magic, to something badly explained and completely unbelievable. Couple that with action scenes that almost compel one to skim because they linger too long in build up, description, or internal monologue, and the scare is gone.
I will say one thing though, I am very glad I live in the states. As much as I find it amusing and a little disturbing that I can go buy a shotgun at Walmart, I think, should an ugly apocalypse come, I would count it a blessing. Here in the American south, I have a feeling there would be less “Widows” and lots more splattered spider guts all over the place … and no women around to tell the surviving men, “No dear, you are not mounting that creepy thing’s head in the dining room.”
Unfurl by ^pullingcandy