Book Review: The Silence By Tim Lebbon
This is a creature feature apocalyptic book which is right up my alley! I first saw this on netflix as a movie – based on a book as always! I wanted to read the book before seeing the movie. Spoiler alert the book is better than the movie as most books to movies adaptations are. Interesting fact about Tim Lebbon he wrote a novel that connects the movie Alien to Aliens starring Riddley! Can’t wait to read that one! Other popular books by this author include : The Edge and Coldbrook! I went into this book with no expectations just what I saw on the netflix preview. I was quite surprised by the story even with the common theme of prehistoric creatures taking over the world. Lebbon puts a great twist on a timeless theme.
So this story starts off with a news broadcast of a discovery in an uncharted cave system. The main family watching this discovery includes Ally who we find out is deaf. Throughout the story we learn that she was not born deaf but was in a car accident with her grandparents who died. She had to learn a totally new way of life. Ally showed resilience that will play a key factor in the family surviving throughout the story. The other members include a brother Jade, father Huw and mother Kelly, and Lynne Kelly’s mother. As they watch the horror of the new discovery unfold on the TV they see creatures from the dark rip apart everything on the screen. They soon realise it is not a stunt or prank but a real life episode.
Thinking they are safe as this cave system is all the way in Moldova they don’t take it so seriously in the beginning. However as time goes on they see that these reptilian creatures called Vesps hunt by sound and are spreading quickly over the continent. Lebbon really plays into the social media aspect here. It is interesting to think of how connected we are today and how if this really happened the speed in which we would all receive live data. We would be way more prepared to anticipate the ‘end of the world’ than say 20 years ago.
They also learn a lot of life saving information from others posting on social media, not so much the news. People post on Facebook and Twitter that Vesps hunt by sound, they lay eggs in the dead and this is how they spread which are both vital points for the family surviving the Vesp Plague. They decide along with Huw’s friend Glenn to move across the country side to where there is no noise, away from the cities. Live feeds show mass hysteria in the cities, fighting, looting, and people killing each other over supplies. This is a typical apocalyptic scene which I totally believe would happen in real life. It would start off as an every man for themselves attitude. What so you all think? Would humanity help out each other or have the cut throat survival attitude?
We see humanity break down as a man attempts to steal the family’s car and points a gun at Ally. This in turn forces Huw to steal a car in order to get to their destination. The suspense is building at this point as they are nowhere close to their destination and Ally is keeping track of where the Vesps are on social media. The time crunch is on!
As the pressure to get to safety sets in because Vesps are now in London a horrible turn of events happens. Glen rolls his SUV pinning him in. Moral dilemmas set as Huw and his family decide not to leave him even though the Vesps are almost upon them. They barricade Glen in the best they can and take shelter in their SUV. Ally gives her family a prep talk 101 on how to be silent, her forte now. Her experiences help them understand what to anticipate and how they are going to feel now being able to verbally communicate. As the Vesps descend upon them their dog Otis, who is Ally’s helper, starts to bark. Vesps swarm their SUV and try to break in. Glen can hear the commotion and in a shear act of selflessness he starts shooting his gun to attract the Vesps to him. This is the ultimate sacrifice that restores the readers faith in humanity for a while. Otis however keeps barking and Huw has to make the hard decision to kill their beloved family pet to save themselves. Turn on the tears! At this point they need to draw the Vesps away. Huw blows up Glen’s SUV and the family hightails it for the forest.
The family comes across a farmhouse. The occupant tried to ward off the ‘intruders’ and ends up attracting Vesps and dying. Everyone finds shelter and safety in the house since the first broadcast of the cave discovery. Huw and Ally try and go to town to find supplies. Two major things happen while they are on their trip. 1. They find out the eggs do not hatch until they are stimulated by noise 2. They find out when it rains the rain disoriented the Vesps giving them a chance to get away. They are slowly finding the Vesp’s weaknesses which gives the reader hope they may defeat their enemy!
On the way back to the farm Huw and Ally meet a different kind of enemy: The Reverend. It is one of the themes in the post apocalyptic stories, the crazy religious cult who justifies what happened as a matter of judgement day. Huw and Ally see first hand the lengths the Reverend will go to survive, he cut his own tongue out!!!! The Reverend now wants Ally so she can teach them sign language, which is the best way to communicate in the silence!!! Huw of course says no and they go on their merry way.
As night falls the Reverend attacks and throws ringing cell phones into the farmhouse. I thought this was a brilliant crisis causing event! How well thought out of Lebbon. Mayhem ensues as Vesps get in and each family member tries to fight them off. During the chaos the cult followers steal Ally away. Lynn, the reader having learned she has end stage cancer, also self sacrifices and tackles the attackers, screams and sends them all to their death to save Ally. The story ends with the family being on the road again to find their quiet place- haha . Winter is coming and hope is restored that the cold weather will kill off the Vesps.
The Silent was in some ways your typical creature feature but with a modern twist of silence and social media. I really enjoyed this book. Now the movie – meh. It was good, some deviations from the book. Not my most favourite book to movie adaptation but not the worst either. Have any of you read it? What are your thoughts? If you would like me to do a top 5 fav apocalyptic books please let me know!! Please feel free to leave any comments below !