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Silver by Chris Wooding


by Chris Wooding

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I liked this twist on the zombie/infectious disease plot. ( )
  AmberKirbey | Mar 10, 2016 |
Take a boy who is already feeling emotional isolation and drop him into a private school in a remote English countryside, add monsters, conflicted friendships, a bully and mix well.
This is the situation Paul finds himself in. His parents vanished in a South American plane crash and his aunt and uncle never wanted kids, so he's felt the double sting of loss and rejection. He's been polite and friendly at Mortingham Boarding school and has a crush on popular, athletic Erika, but she's not interested. Caitlyn, however has it bad for Paul and, as the fourth of a group of sisters, has always felt less than in everything. Erika thinks Caitlyn is her best friend, but the opposite is true, although well hidden. Adam is big and a bully because he's secretly afraid that any sign of weakness will cost him dearly. Quiet, very intelligent Mark realizes he's outgrown the nerd clique and wants new friends, but has no clue how to do so.
When most of the kids have gone home for the weekend, those remaining come under siege. It starts innocently enough with the discovery of an odd and very large beetle by the campus pond. Adam intimidates the boys who found it and after it's dropped, he steps on it. Paul retrieves the crushed insect and takes it to their science teacher who shows the class that this bug is really different. Under a microscope, it looks like it has transistors and silver wires integrated into its body.
Kids go looking for more of the odd creatures and the fun begins. A boy is bitten and hordes of the beetles start after the now terrified students. When kids and faculty members who have been scratched or bitten begin morphing into glowing-eyed, silvery monsters, those students remaining must put aside petty things and join together or die. They're trapped in the science building and every time they come up with a defense, the monsters quickly adapt.
What ensues is fast-paced and creepy-scary, typical Chris Wooding fare. He's able to take a small part of the world and spin it into something frightening and complex. He does it again in Silver. You'll want to set aside sufficient time to read it in one sitting because you won't want to put it down. ( )
  sennebec | Jan 22, 2016 |
When the students at Mortingham Boarding Academy find a group of strange, silvery beetles on school grounds they are excited, but when the beetles attack them and a mysterious virus starts spreading, a group of mismatched students must work together to survive. ( )
  ShellyPYA | May 8, 2014 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Silver is hands-down one of the best science-fiction horror stories I’ve read in a long time. Wooding is an evil genius at combining heart-pounding action with creepy imagery to make this apocalyptic story one I won’t soon forget.

Opening Sentence: Darkness. Crushing pressure on his neck. The sour tang of another boy’s sweat. The rough fabric of a blazer rasping against his face.

The Review:

Fair or not, a book’s synopsis always creates an expectation and I admit I’ve 1-clicked many a story solely on an appealing blurb. It’s always a gamble, especially with new-to-me authors, and ends more often than not with my Kindle getting the stink eye for a story that doesn’t deliver what the synopsis promised.

Then there are stories like Silver, where the synopsis doesn’t do justice to the phenomenal writing and intensely creepy story hidden between the covers.

Located in the remote English countryside, Mortingham Boarding Academy stands more like a prison than a place of learning. Bordered by tall walls and sealed off from the outside world by a closely monitored gate, no one enters or leaves its sprawling grounds without permission. There’s little to distract its students, which range in age from the very young to eighteen, and severe punishments for those who dare deviate from their tightly controlled routines.

So it’s a pretty big deal for the students remaining on campus when silver beetles the size of mice show up right before the weekend. But this excitement turns to fear when the strange bugs suddenly attack two students. Within hours, the two students have become violently ill and covered with a quickly spreading rash of silver tendrils. It doesn’t take long for the infected to mutate into creatures seemingly more machine than animal, overpowering and attacking the remaining teachers and students who were unfortunate enough to remain on campus over the weekend.

Trapped on the isolated campus with no hope of escape, Adam, Caitlyn, Erika, Mark and Paul are among the small number of survivors who make it to the relative safety of the Science Building. Fighting for their lives with only each other to rely on, the five students discover the horrifying truth behind the infection and know the sane, ordered world they grew up in is gone forever. While some are better prepared for the new chaotic nightmare the world has become, all will have to adapt if they want to survive.

Every good horror writer needs to be able to tap into a reader’s darkest fear. Well let me give Mr. Wooding a slow clap because Silver. Freaked. Me. Out. My rational mind wants to say that nothing in this story could ever happen in real life. But the imaginative part of my mind that wakes me up at 2 because I heard a noise under my bed? Not so much.

Thanks to Wooding’s descriptive writing style, I didn’t just read the book. I smelled the smoke drifting across Mortingham Boarding Academy’s campus. My heart pounded along with Paul’s when he ran across campus. I felt the overwhelming anger at those responsible for the infection. In fact, there wasn’t a chapter where my body didn’t feel like I’d just run a marathon from all the adrenaline pumping being thrown around.

Then there’s Adam, Paul, Mark, Caitlyn and Erika. What Wooding did with five characters is what a lot of writers can’t even do with one: create a vibrant and individual voice that makes a connection with the reader. No person is all good or all bad, so how am I supposed to relate to a character written that way? It’s clear that Adam’s personality was a result of growing up in a very different background than the others. I understood Paul’s need to lash out even if it was a jerk move. And who hasn’t experienced some level of jealous like Caitlyn?

The best part of this book, though, is the slow piecing discovery of what exactly the infection is. Chapter by chapter, Wooding reveals information about the way in which the infection mutated the creatures until I had so many theories going through my mind that I was going crazy. I honestly never would’ve guessed the truth and I’ve kept my review purposefully vague because I don’t want to ruin the mystery for anyone else.

There isn’t much I didn’t enjoy about Silver and fans of Stephen King and Michael Crichton will love it as much as I do. It’s the perfect example of why I wanted to review books – to find great new authors and genres I might not otherwise read.

Notable Scene:

His blood slowed to a crawl. For the first time, he got a really good look at the creature he’d seen from his window.

In shape, it resembled a border collie, one of the sheep-herding dogs that farmers used for their flocks in the pastures up the valley. But Paul had never seen a border collie that big, and never one so horrifyingly strange. Most of its body was covered in a silver mesh, hundreds of wiry tendrils that spread unevenly across its skin like some alien form of circuitry. Its hind legs had cables instead of tendons. In some places, there were irregular plates of silvery metal that seemed fused into the flesh beneath.

And yet there was muscle and bone there, too, patches where the silver mesh hadn’t spread, where scrappy tufts of black and white fur were still visible.

Paul might have thought this was some kind of robot, impossible though that was. But now that he really saw it, he knew it wasn’t. This was both flesh and metal, animal and machine.

FTC Advisory: Scholastic Press provided me with a copy of Silver. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Apr 2, 2014 |
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Darkness. Crushing pressure on his neck. The sour tang of another boy's sweat. The rough fabric of a blazer rasping against his face.
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Book description
Who will turn silver next? When a boy is bitten by a strange silver beetle, he becomes the first victim of a mysterious infection. But this is no ordinary virus. It turns flesh into metal, and pupils into machines. As the virus spreads and more terrifying, blood-thirsty machines appear, a small group manage to barricade themselves inside the school Can they keep the machines at bay long enough for help to arrive? Is help even coming? Meanwhile the virus is spreading and its vctims are changing... evolving... becoming stronger... The world as our heroes know it is turning silver. Will any of them survive?
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When the students at Mortingham Boarding Academy find a group of strange, silvery beetles on school grounds they are excited, but when the beetles attack them and a mysterious virus starts spreading, a group of mismatched students must work together to survive.… (more)

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