The Alpha Species is the follow-up to W.W. Mortensen’s debut novel EIGHT, and continues the story of Rebecca and Ed’s terrifying trip into the Amazon jungle from where the first book left off. Therefore, in order to fully understand this book, it’s recommended that readers are familiar with EIGHT before moving on to The Alpha Species.
Tagline: ‘Terror Has Adapted’
Having survived the prior events in the Amazon rainforest, scientists Owen Faulkner and Jess Baxter have both now been recruited by the military and have returned to the site of the pyramid in the forest, where the creatures that attacked them once lurked. But they soon discover that the deadly inhabitants have been driven out, and the military are leading an investigation into the site’s unusual properties, with surprising results.
Meanwhile, Rebecca has been manoeuvred to Nevada, where she expects to be continuing her research with the help of her mentor, Professor Francis Hayward. Unfortunately, things don’t quite go as planned and she finds herself embroiled in yet another terrifying situation, which could have dire consequences. Pushed to their limits, can Rebecca and her fellow scientists escape their predicament?
At 3 out of 5 stars I would only recommend The Alpha Species to those who enjoyed its predecessor, EIGHT. It’s not quite as nail-biting or tension-filled, but the story is enjoyable and fast-paced enough to be worth a read, for those who want to learn more about the spiders or their origins.
There is a distinct lack of these terrifying creatures from the first novel though, which is rather disappointing. When the spiders do eventually appear in the story, it’s late on and with very little in the way of excitement. The name Mortensen gives to these creatures is ‘Megarachne Amazonas’, usually shortened to the form ‘Megs’ which tends to throw-up images of ‘The Megalodon’ in my mind rather than giant spiders. As a result I don’t really care much for this name and feel that maybe it should have been changed to something a bit more apt.
Without the action and nervous tension of EIGHT, The Alpha Species comes across a bit lame in comparison. We don’t learn enough about the newer characters in this story, which leaves them a bit two-dimensional, so I found that I wasn’t really connected to or interested in them. Also the jumping around between locations becomes irritating, especially in the middle when the chapters no longer indicate which particular location we’re reading about.
Having loved EIGHT I really wanted to love The Alpha Species as well, however it’s fallen a little short of the mark for me. Certain situations weren’t fully resolved, clearly leaving the door open for a third book in the future. It will be necessary to continue reading future novels if the reader wants answers to the pressing questions left behind by the first two books, or for full closure to the story. Personally, I would have preferred the novel to remain in the Amazon, following the events of Owen and Jessy, instead of focusing primarily on Rebecca in Nevada, as I found those aspects of the plot much more intriguing.