Life was good for Matt and Chloe. They were in love and looking forward to their new baby. But what Chloe gave birth to isn’t a baby. It isn’t even human. It’s an entirely new species that uses humans only for food—and as hosts for their young. As Matt soon learns, though, he is not alone in his terror. Women all over town have begun to give birth to these hideous creatures, spidery nightmares that live to kill—and feed. As the infestation spreads and the countryside is reduced to a series of web-shrouded ghost towns, will the survivors find a way to fight back? Or is it only a matter of time before all of mankind is reduced to a Breeding Ground.
Post apocalyptic narrative has seen a real resurgence of late. Zombies, plague, aliens, nuclear winter, etc. It's hard to put one's finger on what makes stories of 'starting over in a new paradigm' so attractive, but they are. Pinborough's premise is a delightfully creepy one - women giving birth to something utterly horrific. The story plays with themes of motherhood, the way male partners of pregnant women feel a sort of alienation, misogyny, etc. but only on a very superficial level.
The ubiquitous 'band of brother' travelers seeking sanctuary from the dangers of the post-apocalyptic world are a pretty unremarkable lot in Pinborough's book. There is, as usual, the experienced older man, the fatally injured person who makes the seeking of sanctuary vital, the innocent child, and, of course, the traitorous bastard who will put everyone else's life at risk just...er... because. The best post-apocalyptic stories are really about stripping the world bare of civilities in order to examine human motivation at its rawest and most desperate. Who will emerge as heroic, who will reveal themselves to have hidden wisdom, who will be the coward. Unfortunately, one major flaw in Breeding Ground was that the hero is spectacularly unheroic. He's stunningly stupid, he's a physical coward and his hormones don't seem to obey any of the normal laws of nature. I understand the need for a love story, but his reasons for the women he chooses seem to be staggeringly opportunistic. The archetypal coward was all too predictable and identifiable from the moment we meet him. We hate him from the beginning. We're never offered any depth of insight into why he's the way he is. He's just the stock coward.
Despite the compelling premise, Pinborough really doesn't do more than surf on it and follow through the post-apocalyptic survival experience in an unoriginal way. The only exception to this, for which she does deserve praise, is the story's very ambiguous and un-Hollywoodish ending.
But the greatest let down to the story on audio is the narration. It's not that Lyssa Graham is a bad narrator, but she was a terrible choice for this novel. The story is set in England and she's got a very strong American accent and a propensity to mispronounce things like Edinburgh (as ed-in-burg). The other problem is that the story in written through the first person POV of a male protagonist. If there was more than one POV in the novel, it would have probably been less noticeable, but in this case there is only one, written in first person, and it's a man.
Perhaps had a more suitable narrator been chosen for this audiobook, I would have been less critical. I honestly don't know.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
It wasn't the best but not terrible either.
If you’ve listened to books by Sarah Pinborough before, how does this one compare?
This is her best one.
What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?
It was well performed and dramatic.
Was Breeding Ground worth the listening time?
I think so. It isn't great but it is entertaining and amusing at times.
This story could have been so much more than bits an pieces from "Midwich Cuckoo", 'The Day of the Triffids and "Alien'. It did have real moments of 'icky" and "eerie" but the inabilility of the narrator to do a credible male voice was really, realy distracting. Lyssa Graham did do a good job narrating but only the female voices. Sarah's characters were drawn okay; it was easy to feel really sad for the females who suddenly found themselves pregnant with these disgustingly awful babies but no reason is given or suggested as to why major events happened.
If the story had been much longer I could never have been able to listen to the end. With this story, it was touch and go all the way.
Thank you for reading my review, I hope I have helped.
Would you consider the audio edition of Breeding Ground to be better than the print version?
What did you like best about this story?
The descriptive and colloquial language. The character development.
What didn’t you like about Lyssa Graham’s performance?
This needed to be read by an Englishman. It's really the producer's fault kind of an expensive and unfortunate mistake on a bit of a no brainer.
If you could take any character from Breeding Ground out to dinner, who would it be and why?
Chester. I prefer the company of animals to humans.
If you could sum up Breeding Ground in three words, what would they be?
What other book might you compare Breeding Ground to and why?
Breeding Ground dovetails H.G.Wells "The War Of The Worlds" and John Wyndham's "The Day of the Triffids" - In both scenerios mankind seems to have an unbeatable threat, trying to wipe out the human race.
Which scene was your favorite?
My favorite scene involved the character Nigel Phelps. A fellow survivor, Nigel betrayed the others and got what a bad guy deserves.
If you could rename Breeding Ground, what would you call it?
If I renamed this novel, it would simply be Breeding Ground.....the beginning. Sarah Pinborough's ending of the novel suggests a book two conclusion, which has not happened as of this writing.
Any additional comments?
Very good book! I enjoyed the story and liked the narration by Lyssa Graham. The story was told in the first person by character Matthew Edge, much like the story told by DR. Bennell in the 1950's movie "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers"