Book Review: Breeding Ground by Sarah Pinborough

Book Review: Breeding Ground by Sarah PinboroughIf you are scared of spiders and other creepy-crawlies then, should you decide to read it, you will probably find Breeding Ground a particularly scary book. If you are not scared of many-legged-beasties though, you will still find enough dark moments in the story to keep you turning the pages. I turned them all and am very glad I did. I enjoyed this book a lot.

Breeding Ground is written in the first person and the central character is a man called Matthew Edge. Matthew is in his late twenties and is a relatively contented guy. He is happy in his job and more than happy in his relationship with Chloe, who he has been with for five years. He hasn’t a care in the world. Then Chloe tells him that she is pregnant. It is a surprise and Matthew is shocked at the news. He is also very happy. In fact, he sees it as a perfect ending to what has already been their perfect day.

Chloe is a real babe, by the way, but with a baby inside her even a babe is bound to pile on a few pounds and perhaps have the odd mood swing or two due to hormonal changes in her body. It all seems rather extreme in Chloe’s case though, and her weight gain is incredible. At one point she puts on a stone in weight in just two weeks and for one of those weeks she did not eat a single thing—nothing at all. Matthew is shocked by this information and insists that they go and see the doctor.

Matthew is astounded when the doctor says that there is nothing for them to worry about, but when Matthew tells Chloe that he thinks they should get a second opinion it causes an argument. Chloe takes £20 out of her bag, throws it at him and tells him to go to the pub. She wants to be alone. “That’s all you ever seem to want these days!” he yells after her, before fishing the money out of the puddle at his feet and going to the pub anyway.

It’s very quiet in the pub, but Matthew notices the doctor is in there drinking and he challenges him about his diagnosis. Or lack of it. The doctor admits that what is happening to Chloe is far from normal, but says that there is nothing he can do and there is no point in him running any tests on her because there are none. Not for this. “Do you live with your head up your arse, son? Look around you. What are you seeing? Look at the the women.”

Matthew does take a look around him and realizes that he has been so focused on his own problems that he has never noticed what is happening in the town he lives in: the few customers that are drinking in the pub are all men and they all wear the same haunted look on their faces. The streets are unusually too and many of the restaurants are ‘CLOSED DUE TO ILNESS.’ It is a ghost town and Matthew soon learns that it isn’t just the town; the problem seems to be world-wide.

Things quickly come to a head with Chloe who develops telepathic capabilities and frightening telekinetic powers. Nothing is more frightening though than the creatures that she and the rest of the women bring into the world.

Breeding Ground is an unusual story and in a story like this there are usually two ways it can go: the characters can try and find a cure, or they can fight to survive. Breeding Ground takes the latter route. Sure, Matthew and the other survivors he meets up with—some of which are female, by the way—wonder why this terrible thing has happened, but in the main Breeding Ground is a story about how Matthew and the others try to survive and keep one step ahead of the deadly new species that they soon learn to call the ‘Widows.’

There are some great characters in Breeding Ground and one of my favourites is an old guy called George Leicester, who quickly becomes the unofficial leader of their group. George is a smart guy. The guy who I loved to hate all through the book is called Nigel Phelps and I was never really sure what happened to his wife and daughter until I reached the final few chapters. All through the book though I kept thinking what a total pratt he was and time and time I’d turn a page and find that he was proving me right. Phelps is the guy who is the spanner in everyone’s works and who rains on all and every parade. To make it worse, he does it in a suit. Civilisation might have gone down the pan, but Nigel still has his standards to keep and he keeps them in a suit. Still, as George points out, “It is a nice suit.” It’s just a pity that clothes don’t maketh the man.

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