Book Review: Slither by Edward Lee
Nora and Loren are polychaetologists–worm scientists. They are asked by their college to accompany a National Geographic photographer to an island off the coast of Florida to help her photograph a rare worm. They are accompanied by a member of the military, as it is an island that is unused military property. Also coming surreptitiously to the island are two criminal brothers and their mutual girlfriend to check on their pot growing operation and a group of four college students looking to party. What they don’t know is that the island is gradually becoming infested with a parasitic worm. Only this worm isn’t microscopic. It’s huge and has multiple, gruesome ways of using its hosts. As the various groups try frantically to avoid the worms and their ova, it seems that someone in toxin-blocking suits is watching them.
I originally picked this book up and read its blurb because of the cover. I mean, look at that! Such a striking piece of art. Upon reading the description, I decided it sounded a bit like a slightly more phallic Michael Crichton-esque book. In a way, it certainly is. It has the group with scientists attempting to solve a situation that is putting civilians at risk. The similarities kind of end there, however.
This is definitely a horror book, but I wouldn’t call it a scientific horror book. There’s nothing particularly plausible about any of it. I’d absolutely classify it more as the B-type movie gross-out fest. Lee does the gross-out part well. I found myself continually surprised and disgusted by the various things the worms do to human beings. The worms are…well, they’re so gross that it took me a bit longer than usual to read this book because I couldn’t read it right before bed or while I was eating. So he’s definitely good at that!
The book blurb hints at exciting sexual tension, but the sex veers much more strongly toward sexual abuse or gross sex than fun, crazy sex. I didn’t particularly find this bothersome, although a bit sad for the characters. However, I know some readers find that triggering, so you should be aware.
I enjoy watching B films with silly effects and bad dialogue, but it’s a lot more tedious to read awful dialogue than it is to hear it, for some reason. The dialogue really, truly is atrocious. Particularly bad is when Nora talks or thinks. It’s like Lee has never been around a nerdy woman in his life. It’s not much better when he’s writing anyone’s thoughts. They all have the most inane thoughts I’ve ever read. This actually was so tedious to get through that I almost gave up on the book a few times in the beginning. I’m glad I didn’t, because the end is absolutely a surprise. Not so much in the who survives sense, but in the mystery of the worms. It was a satisfying payoff, but I wish he’d either gotten to it sooner.
I feel that overall this is a decent horror book. It’s entirely possible that the beginning just didn’t jive with me, but would with others. I recommend it to fans of gross out horror who don’t mind flimsy dialogue.
3 out of 5 stars