Mandibles by Jeff Strand
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Unusually huge fire ants terrorize Tampa, Florida. Will anyone survive this plague?
Mandibles is a creature feature by Jeff Strand about large fire ants overrunning Tampa. That's pretty much it. It follows the lives of office works, people in a dentist office, a couple stickup men, and an entomologist during the rampage of the ants.
It might be that I've come to expect home runs at every at-bat from Jeff Strand but this one didn't make me want to sit outside his house and "pretend" to run into him so we could eventually be best friends like a lot of his other books.
I love the premise but the characters didn't really do it for me this time. In my opinion, for a story like this, there needs to be a couple strong central characters to build the story around. Since this one had a death rate per page equivalent to a George R.R. Martin book, there was no one to root for for every long. It seemed like the characters I cared about the least were the ones to make it to the end. Also, I thought the ending was kind of weak and the source of the ants didn't make that much logical sense.
Still, it was a fun read for the most part. People getting stung and eaten by fire ants of unusual size was pretty entertaining and they made a believably frightening enemy. Unstoppable fire ants the size of squirrels (and larger)? No thank you, sir.
Three stars and Strand had to work hard for every one in this outing. I guess I can't be mad at him for not being perfect, though.
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