Breeding Ground: That Time Nobody Noticed Anything

Lets face it. Usually books fall into one of two categories for me–and I like to think for most people.

There are books with deep characters that grab your interest, make you feel for the characters; make you want to keep turning the pages until 4:00 am and then regret it when you forget how to do your job the next morning.Then there are books that are just so terrible that you want to claw your eyes out, that make you wish that you never learned how to read, that make you ashamed that you haven’t gotten published yet and this book has (looking at you, E.L. James).

Oddly enough, however, Breeding Ground by Sara Pinborough didn’t fall into either of these categories. No, Breeding Ground was 102147041decidedly average, a completely forgettable book that I’m more than happy to forget. It’s one of those books where the author’s technical skill with prose (which is above average at best) far outshines her character development, setting, and general theme of her book.

Let’s face it. Matthew Edge, our not-so-bright protagonist in Breeding Ground is a pretty stock character dude. He thinks a lot about sex and about women–even after sawing his buddy’s arm off, he pointedly ignores Katie because, well, it just wouldn’t be right to look at her totally ‘bangin’ bod’ after performing major surgery with a veterinarian saw, picking up a drunk homeless guy, and hijacking a deaf woman’s bus (who, coincidentally, also is, like, totally gorgeous).

Let us not be too hard on Miss Pinborough, though. Writing the opposite gender is hard, so hard that a lot of authors don’t even attempt it until they’re well established. It makes me wonder, however, why she chose a cast consisting of 90% male characters. Sure, it would have been alright if they all had distinct personalities, but unfortunately after over 300 pages, I still had to check to see who was Jeff and who was John. (I mean seriously, can we get some more creative names???) 

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Characters aside though,the biggest problem I had with this book was the fact that it was all so happenstance. I cannot even begin to count how many times the words “I guess I just didn’t notice” appeared in the text. But forreal. Our totally edgy, angsty, sexed-up protagonist didn’t really notice the fact that his girlfriend was acting a little strange, that less and less people were out on the streets THAT THERE WERE LIKE 90% LESS WOMEN IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE SUDDENLY. (made even more less believable by the unbelievable fact that the protagonist *ahem* has relations with three different women in the course of this novel. Quite soon after their predecessors have kicked the bucket, Matt Edgee just moves on) And our sexed up protagonist isn’t the only one that has severe problems with noticing his environment. The wise old man, George “just didn’t notice” too. As did the apocalyptic jerk-face Nigel. I mean seriously…we have TV people, we have radio, we have the internet…and no one reported on this until it was too late? You’re telling me that our society, that basically has an international panic Pinboroughattack each year when flu season comes around, just happened to not notice that all the women suddenly got fat and birthed hive minded spider babies that can telepathically throw you against the wall and keep you there all night? Ok, ok, so the ONE E.R. doctor somehow knew and so graciously informed the reader that this was an international problem…but seriously no newscasts? No internet? Tumblr would have a field day with #BigIsBeautiful posts. This isn’t a slip up by the author, it was pure laziness. Foreshadowing is for punks and Literary Writers, right? #endrant

These things aside, however, I have to give Sara Pinborough credit. The book was an easy read. If I wasn’t reading this book to analyze it, I think I may have found it more than simply tolerable. However, I still would have been annoyed at the “OMG I can’t believe it’s the apocalypse, never saw it coming” thing though. All in all, I give it a 2.5 or 3/5 simply because the author demonstrated maturity in her prose and scene tension.

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4 thoughts on “Breeding Ground: That Time Nobody Noticed Anything

  1. You’re being extraordinarily generous. The more I consider what I read, the more furious I become. There were places where character development began and then it was shut down almost immediately. The love-making scene in chapter 16 was complete garbage. By page 200, I was hoping the remainder of the book would be devoted to the Widows offing the remaining survivors. I was just that much more interested in the spiders than the characters.

    And you’re right: they were so monodimensional that I had to flip around to make sure who was who, too.

  2. I decided to cut my own rant short on my blog, but I completely agree, why the hell didn’t anyone seem to notice anything? This book was published in 2006, so I doubt Sarah Pinborough could claim internet ignorance.

    I also had some difficulty with the names, though mine centered more around Dean, David, and Daniel. Come on, that’s such a rookie mistake.

    On the other hand it does give a weird bit of hope that less-than-incredible stuff can get published, can get solid reviews, and presumably can sell well enough that some college somewhere might even study it in a class.

  3. I completely agree, but the poor plotting doesn’t stop with there. It goes throughout the book with decisions that just make no sense and explanations that either don’t hold up or are never given. How can the spiders that can inhibit electricity not get through an electric fence? Just so many plots points that can’t stand to any level of scrutiny. And yet the premise is just so fun. Which is, I guess, what saved this book for me. I just turned off my brain. It was far more enjoyable once I stopped thinking.

  4. Lack of realism wasn’t the only reason that the whole not-noticing-anything annoyed me. It got to me because it seemed like a cop-out mechanism meant to make the spiders seem scarier. For me, the fear factor of a story can be enhanced when the object of the fear can sneak up on you. In this case, all the women becoming fat would be a giant red flag in our world that the widows are coming. Thus, the widows lose a bit of their scariness, because we know they can’t take us by surprise. On the other hand, if their arrival can be overlooked, they have the potential to be a lot scarier.

    I felt like the author attempted to make the widows scarier by making the whole world overlook the widows’ arrival. But this attempt felt contrived and ineffective, because of its lack of realism.

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