I like being scared. I like the way my heart starts to race, and my temperature rises, and my senses go on high alert. It’s kind of like being in love.
I think it’s secretly fun to run from the shadows into the next room, throw on the light, and make sure nothing’s in there. To ponder what would happen if the unthinkable happened. How would I react? How would I cope? How would I handle it?
I think I should qualify: I like being the safe kind of scared; the kind where you know everything will be fine once you close the book, or shut off the tv, or stop the game.
I remember reading horror stories as a kid and being genuinely terrified. I loved it, and hated it. I couldn’t put the books down because I thought it could happen to me, if I wasn’t careful. If I didn’t listen to my parents. But, I knew that it would all turn out well in the end. It was just in the meantime that I had to worry about what would grab my ankles when I put them over the side of the bed.
As I grew up, my love of horror morphed. I am a self-professed zombie-snob and a zombie-hipster–I liked the Walking Dead (and the walking dead) before it was cool…you know, when it was a graphic novel? But now, it seems like everything is zombie, zombie, zombie…and not all of it is done well. Where’s the suspense? Where’s the metaphor? It’s just going for gore…
It was with my younger love of horror novels in mind that I picked up Chris Wooding’s Silver. It boasted a mysterious virus, zombie-like hordes, survival, and pre-teen protagonists. Would they save the day? Would this be just another sub-par piece of the zombie genre?
Silver by Chris Wooding
When Paul Camber’s world is turned upside down after his parents die in a plane crash, he buries it deep and heads to boarding school. There he can have routine, order, and rely on himself. Or so he thinks. He seems to be having a hard time fitting in, controlling his agression, and hiding his hurt.
But Paul isn’t alone in his pain. Caitlyn is nursing an unrequited crush on Paul, and resents her best friend, Erika, who Paul admires.
Erika is starting to doubt herself and her abilities, tired of everyone only seeing her pretty face.
Adam is bully, but only because things he doesn’t understand make him angry.
Mike wants to grow up, and feels his friends are holding him back. But realizes he doesn’t know how to make new friends.
But with one bite from a mysterious beetle, none of that matters.
In a few short hours, those remaining uninfected have to fight for their very survival. And the Infected are learning. Having holed up in one of the science buildings, Paul, Caitlyn, Erika, Adam, and Mike have to put aside their differences and work together to save themselves, and those around the. As the Infected attack, regroup, and learn from their mistakes, so too must the group of kids.
What I liked
This was an interesting story. It was quick, and moved at a great pace. There was no down time. It flowed from one terrifying scene to the next. There wasn’t much explanation of how the Infection came to be, but there was enough of to get by. I liked that because usually it’s the explanation parts that weigh the story down.
I also really liked the ending. In reality, nothing is zipped neatly up–this book reflected that. It also didn’t have a bunch of adults swooping in to save the day. The issue was created by adults and (somewhat) solved by kids. The negative aspects of humanity were reflected in the actions of both adult and teen characters, which was a nice balance. No one is perfect, and it showed.
What I didn’t like
Some of the decisions made by characters were horror-story stock, and could have been avoided, as they brought the story down. These choices happen in most every horror movies, and shouldn’t. The story suffered a little from them:
1) Going exploring alone and exacerbating the issues at hand; including but not limited to–getting someone infected, getting lost and infected yourself, giving the Infected an all access pass into your safe house.
2) Being infected but being exceptional enough to fight it for a time (thanks to a feeling for other characters).
3) Characters who know another character is infected, and not taking care of it. (Yes, I get that this is a kid’s book, but it’s not like people aren’t dying bloody left and right throughout it.)
Where would the story be without those classic mistakes, you ask. Well, until someone writes it, we may never know.
I did really enjoy this book. The horror-mistakes listed above are almost an expected part of the genre. It was a very enjoyable book. If you like survival stories, a little horror, a little scifi, and a bit of fast-paced adventure, pick this one up.