Author: Chase Novak
# Pages: 311
Date Published: 2012
5-Star Rating: 2.5
Would you recommend it?: No
Breed perched jauntily on its own stand in the Pop section. The cover, entirely black except for a sensual red curve outlining the profile of a pregnant woman, along with the fact that I hadn’t read horror in a while, enticed me to pick it up.
Novak, the pseudonym for Endless Love author Scott Spencer, trying his hand at a different sort of novel, begins Breed by introducing the reader to the characters and their lives, allowing readers to delve into their world. The novel follows Alex and Leslie Twisden, a wealthy married couple with brilliant careers and a swanky apartment in New York City that has been in Alex’s affluent family for generations. Despite a significant age gap, they live a happy life, and seem very much in love.
When the time comes for children, they are distraught to find that they cannot conceive. The pair spends ludicrous amounts of money and travel all over, trying different methods. They are about to give up when they hear of the miracle doctor in Slovenia who, with one injection, can guarantee pregnancy. Despite considerable misgivings, Alex and Leslie allow the disturbing doctor to treat them and bang, success. Twins are born.
The novel then jumps forward 10 years to life in the Twisden house with their fraternal twins. But all is not what it seems. The children are kept from other children, rarely leave the house, and at night are locked in their rooms, cowering in fear, listening to the growls coming from the parents’ room. Finally, they decide they’ve had enough. From this point on, Novak tracks the disturbing effects of the mystery drug, the parents’ descent into something not quite human, and the frightening repercussions of the family’s decisions.
Novak writes well in some respects. His intimate portrayals of Alex and Leslie succumbing to their new natures are chilling, and he attacks grisly and terrible scenes with gusto. The fear the children feel seeps from the pages and taints you. The increasingly unpredictable nature of the parents unsettles you. You will be horrified and uneasy. With regard to the horror, Novak is excellent.
However, the plot meanders, and the children, charged with carrying the latter part of the novel, prove significantly less likeable and personable than their parents. In addition, the conclusion is unsatisfying and the truth is, I started skimming and skipping through the often unecessary exposition just to see how the story would end. Once I understood what had befallen the parents, I zipped through, hoping for some resolution, only to find that there was none.
Except for the interesting premise, the tortured emotions of Leslie and Alex, and the horror scenes, I found it a shoddy book. If you want a few thrills and don’t mind that there is little substance, Breed is a quick read, go ahead and try it. Otherwise, I would not recommend this novel.
Review by Anne Donnelly, A&S '17