Saturday, May 25, 2013
Review By Nina Schuyler, Author Of The Forthcoming Book, The Translator
There are a lot of ways the world could end. The earth collides with a meteorite, a Zombie invasion, nuclear disaster, tainted water supplies, mutant monkeys, wild and abrupt changes in climate. In Michael Phillip Cash’s debut novel, Brood X, it’s an infestation of cicadas. And not just any cicadas, but swarms of them, enormous black clouds of three-inch insects descend from the high heavens and land on houses in the Northeast, caving in roofs and cracking windows. When the news reports first begin warning of the infestation, Seth, a 32-year-old unemployed former banker, is disbelieving, even dismissive. He tells his pregnant wife, Lara, not to worry. It’s a hoax, a way for stores to drive up sales of flashlights and batteries and canned goods. The couple blithely goes about their business, buying baby clothes and gear, decorating the baby’s room. When Seth finds a husk of a cicada, the story begins to unfold at a brisk, unflagging pace, and the invasion quickly becomes a visceral experience. Seth’s friend is attacked outside by a swarm. “Seth started yanking the cicadas off his body. He felt one of the bug’s abdomen tense. The threatened cicada let out a shrill that drowned out the girls’ screaming. Dominic wailed. Everyone watched helplessly as the cicada jolted down his abdomen, stabbing Dominic in the stomach with its stinger.” Soon, the cicadas enter the house via the air conditioner vents. The young couple— as well as the entire neighborhood—loses electrical power, food, water. The stakes are raised even further because Seth’s friend is dying—the bugs enter bodies to lay eggs—and his wife is approaching her due date. Donning a wet suit, Seth and his friend’s girlfriend head outside to raid a neighbor’s house for supplies. “The summer night was pitilessly hot. It was mainly quiet except for the distant echoes of the trillions of cicadas covering the land. There were no signs of humans. It was a black lunar landscape; the cicadas covered every surface.” Cash has written a harrowing tale of survival against all odds of a supernatural nature. As summer gets hot, Brood X will cool you down by sending chills down your back.
Reviewer: Nina Schuyler is the author of the forthcoming book, The Translator, which will be published in July. (http://www.ninaschuyler.com)