Breeding Ground, by Sarah Pinborough

Breeding Ground cover

When I first started reading this book, I loved it. The descriptions were awesome, the pacing clipped right along, the first-person POV was fine, and the monsters were pretty good – for giant spiders. Giant, mutated spiders, in general, don’t scare me – although they probably should, given their power and ruthlessness. I also liked the setting – a cozy, little town in England in the modern era. It felt refreshing.

However, the first sentence of the first chapter has a woman, Chloe, complaining to her boyfriend, Matthew, that she’s gaining weight. Matthew reassures her with some early morning sex. Then Chloe discovers she is pregnant, which, mercifully, explains the mysterious weight gain. But then she gets too fat, too fast. A doctor is consulted who assures the unhappy couple that everything is proceeding normally, but when Matthew bumps into him in a pub later, doc tells a different story – something horrible and strange is happening in town, maybe all over the world. “Look at the women,” the doctor spits. (25)

And from that point on, the story starts to really go downhill.

It wasn’t just the misogynistic venom running through the story and in the survivor’s attitudes and words that bugged me. It was also all the glaring inconsistencies that resulted in so many mysteries that never get solved.

Like, where did all the dogs go? And what killed the cats?

Why were only deaf people and dogs immune to the monsters?

Why were only women the first targets of the spiders, and how did they all get pregnant? (I imagined alien spider spores wafting on the breeze until they detect estrogen on someone’s breath, and then – what? They hang around until you go to the bathroom and then creep inside and up to the uterus? Arrggh.) And did age matter at all, or would they impregnate anything with a uterus – old women, young women, girls, babies?

Why was Katie at first immune to the spiders — and in fact, she seemed to scare the nasty buggers — but then at the end, she gets spider bumps? And why “bumps” now, and not a regular “pregnancy” like the first wave of women?

Why did the smaller, black spiders – presumably male – need male hosts? And how did that work?

Why did human blood act like acid when sprayed on the spiders? And was it any kind of human blood, or only the blood of disabled people?

In addition, the protagonist, Matthew, while coming off sympathetic in the beginning – him being all loving and supportive of his grotesquely fat girlfriend – soon shows himself to be ready, willing and able to screw all the available women left on the planet. Thank God the little sister, Jane, got eaten by the spider before Matthew got to her. It was so bad that I actually wondered if he were somehow impregnating his girlfriends with the spiders.

I’m not sure if the author started out to write a book designed to reinforce primitive male fear and distrust of women, and the ever-changing female body, but that’s what she ended up with. Despite having some good spider monsters (which may have been surrogates for the mysterious and voracious human female, who knows, this shit is getting too deep for me), this book ended up disappointing the hell out of me.

Pinborough, Sarah, Breeding Ground.New York: Leisure, 2006. Print.

7 thoughts on “Breeding Ground, by Sarah Pinborough

  1. Vince Rayburn September 7, 2016 / 9:02 PM

    Gwen, I couldn’t agree with you more. You said I wanted to say, but so much better. I really have to ask the women out there: If women are getting pregnant with spiders… why on Earth would have sex with a man without knowing 100 percent he isn’t too blame? I would want some science saying the spiders are not coming from sperm, they’re coming from someplace stupid like genetically modified foods… oh wait, we got that.

    I really think the best spider moments are the black Widows that explode from the males heads. That reminds of stories of spiders crawling into your ears at night and laying eggs.

    And don’t get me started on Matthew Edge. Possibly the worse protagonist I’ve ever read. Absolutely two dimensional, no character arc, and no redeemable qualities. Even when he’s being “heroic” he’s thinking about having sex with the women-folk.

    I still liked it though, for reasons I’ve stated on my blog.

    Like

  2. Chad Pritt September 7, 2016 / 9:03 PM

    Gwen, I couldn’t agree with you more. You said I wanted to say, but so much better. I really have to ask the women out there: If women are getting pregnant with spiders… why on Earth would have sex with a man without knowing 100 percent he isn’t too blame? I would want some science saying the spiders are not coming from sperm, they’re coming from someplace stupid like genetically modified foods… oh wait, we got that.

    I really think the best spider moments are the black Widows that explode from the males heads. That reminds of stories of spiders crawling into your ears at night and laying eggs.

    And don’t get me started on Matthew Edge. Possibly the worse protagonist I’ve ever read. Absolutely two dimensional, no character arc, and no redeemable qualities. Even when he’s being “heroic” he’s thinking about having sex with the women-folk.

    I still liked it though, for reasons I’ve stated on my blog.

    Like

  3. The Petulant Muse September 8, 2016 / 9:49 AM

    Gwen,
    you and I think way too much alike it’s starting to scare me a little. LOL. But yeah, maybe the spider eggs are waiting on the toilet seats like all those nasty diseases that make women hover over public potties, spraying their urine all over the place for the next poor gal to try to deal with. “Don’t sit on that dirty seat, Sweetie, you could get AIDS or worse…SPIDERS!”
    But yeah Matthew disgusts me. He even had a comment about how he loved Chloe but her pregnant body was disgusting to him. Ugh. What an asshole. No matter how pissed I am at my husband, I don’t think that as a woman, I could ever write a man so sickening as the ones in this book.
    And the questions she leaves you asking…has she heard of Chekov’s gun? Anton Chekov said “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” I thought of this principal so many times reading this book. She left rifle’s hanging all over the place. tsk, tsk, Sarah Pinborough.
    Joe-la

    Like

    • grcope September 8, 2016 / 2:27 PM

      “Heard of Chekhov’s gun?” She should have used it on herself and saved us poor readers from the horror of that book!

      Like

  4. lisettegallows September 9, 2016 / 4:03 PM

    Normally, I would disagree with you, Gwen, just because it’s fun, but there was no room in this story. Sarah Pinwhatever is clearly a Men’s Rights Activist pretending to be an otherwise good female author in this one story. While I think giant spiders are scary (not as scary as giant centipedes), this was a terrible book. I wrote my entire blog on the chekhov’s gun point, since you decided to cover the lady issues so well.

    Like

    • grcope September 9, 2016 / 7:38 PM

      LJ, I love that you would disagree with me ’cause it’s fun. I also agree– giant centipedes are MUCH scarier than giant spiders.

      Like

  5. kmmoreno1 September 12, 2016 / 6:18 PM

    What can I say that other’s haven’t already said? I’ll just toss one out there. Can you have misogynistic venom when the novel is written by a woman? I’ve seen that comment in a few places and it left me scratching my head. I think we men should be more upset about Pinborough’s poor character development of us men. 🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s