Wasps Kill More People Than Any Other Pest, Yet Are Arrested Only 5% of the Time

Book Review: Buzz Kill by Jeff Jacobson

Wasp Attack at Disney World, inspired by Buzz Kill by Jeff Jacobson

Jeff Jacobson is a terrific thriller writer and I loved his new book. The action hits the ground running and his relentless pacing makes it hard to catch a breath. I’m glad I read Buzz Kill as an e-book and not in a physical format because, as quickly as I turned the pages, I surely would have set them on fire.

The title is clever. I shuddered when I thought, “murder hornets,” and immediately snapped it up from NetGalley. If you use fiction to battle the psychological effects of real-life terrors beyond your control like I do, you’ll definitely want to check out what these invaders do to the people of Miami. It’s a cathartic misadventure.

All of Jacobson’s characters are vivid. Some disgraced soldiers begin the story as violent, murderous prisoners, but as they fight their way through this catastrophic situation, they evolve. Those who survive find a sense of redemption they perhaps once found when they were in combat, as they save civilians and each other.

Andy, in particular, introduced as a bitter criminal, becomes worthy of compassion, if not forgiveness. These kinds of transformations may seem hackneyed, but I never get tired of characters who’ve really screwed things up yet get a second chance. Punishment, no matter how deserved, is a useless tool without the chance of reformation and the opportunity to make reparations. Whether it will stick is another matter, however.

But in this dire cataclysmic emergency, every available defender is needed against the massed attacks of these horrifying wasps. They are a never-before seen species with atypical size and habits, not murder hornets. The government’s response to the ensuing chaos is dynamic but not very effective. This gives the prisoners usefulness and sets a group of scientists on a dangerous mission.

If any of the desperate characters, the prisoners or the scientists, hadn’t been able to think on their feet and outside the box, the story would have quickly ended for the entire state of Florida. The scientists quickly learn that credentials don’t lend any advantage in this kind of emergency. The prisoners’ visceral reactions not only save lives but make them heroic figures.

Jen, a graduate student, is a perfect combination of brainy and brave. The way she became love-struck while helping Andy added a humorous sense of serendipity to the story, as did Andy’s rapturous bewitchment by Jen. Both the mysterious prisoner Carver and Dr. Araminta Ross, a scientist, brought attitudes to their roles that made them standouts. Even Dr. Fletcher, lacking traits possessed by heroes and having tendencies that make him just the opposite, performs an essential role.

It’s true that this book isn’t for everyone. I’m not going to give any spoilers, but there are a plethora of shocking triggers that are offensive and potentially devastating. Terrible, mind-searing action probably ensures that Buzz Kill will become one of Hollywood’s major motion pictures.

Reading the book was an escapist’s pleasure and despite the frenzied bloodshed, it was gritty, satisfying thrills. It’s terrifying enough for this adrenaline junkie to rave about, plus the science and political scenarios, though only broadly sketched, feel authentic and current. If you have a dark sense of humor and love creature-feature disaster porn, this book is for you.

I’m grateful for the free advance reader’s copy I received courtesy of the author, Lyrical Press, and NetGalley. This review is my honest endorsement, given without any obligation.

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2 responses to “Wasps Kill More People Than Any Other Pest, Yet Are Arrested Only 5% of the Time”

  1. Thanks so much for the kind words. Glad you had fun with it. And frankly, you’ve created a better cover than whatever that mosquito-looking thing is that Kensington came up with. Much appreciated.

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