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I Belong

Review: Silver by Chris Wooding

Silver Chris WoodingTitle: Silver

Author: Chris Wooding

Genre: YA Horror

Series: N/A

Publication Date: March 25, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 0545603927 (Scholastic)

ISBN-13: 978-0545603928 (Scholastic)

Reviewed by: Kelly


The final exam is survival.

Paul is the new kid at Mortingham Boarding Academy, and he has a dark secret.

Caitlyn admires Paul from afar and resents that he only has eyes for Erika.

Erika thinks that she and Caitlyn are best friends, but she’s wrong.

Adam is a bully with a major chip on his shoulder.

Mark is outgrowing his old friends but doesn’t know how to make new ones.

In a few short hours, none of this will matter. Without warning, a horrifying infection will spread across the school grounds, and a group of students with little in common will find themselves barricaded in a classroom, fighting for their lives. Some will live. Some will die. And then it will get even worse.

Fast-paced and frightening, Silver is a tale set on the fringes of science and horror – a story about the struggle to survive in the face of impossible odds. 

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

Excerpt: No

Book Trailer: Yes

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.


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Rating: 8.2/10 (6 votes cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Review: Silver by Chris Wooding, 8.2 out of 10 based on 6 ratings
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