Review: The Ants by Peter Tremayne

When Jane Sewell returns to the Braxilian jungle to help her anthropologist father in his work, it is not the happy reunion she is expecting. She doesn’t find the thriving village she remembers. Just a pile of bones. Human bones. Picked clean. And then the ancient steamboat Galcao chugs cheerfully into sight, carrying a ghastly cargo of grisly death. And, for Jane, the horror really begins. Somewhere, out in the seething jungle, a remorseless army is on the move. And it seems as though nothing can stop its savage, merciless drive.

The Ants by Peter Tremayne. 185 pages. Copyright 1979. This is the Signet edition from April 1980.

Creature monster horror is my favorite type of horror. And I love, love, LOVE the killer bugs. Roaches, spiders, bees… To me, the killer bug theme is a true classic in the creature feature category. I’ve had The Ants sitting on my TBR pile for a couple of months and I was dying to finally get to it! I absolutely love the cover!

The plot was great! You have thousands of thousands radioactive mutant ants cutting a bloody path through the Amazon. Everyone that gets near them gets eaten. Whole villages are getting wiped out. How can you possible stop so many killer ants?? The setting is also a plus. You have the isolation and seclusion of the Amazon. How will you be able to find these ants in this dense, remote location? I didn’t have a problem with the plot or the setting. I wish I could say the same for the rest of the book…

Oh boy. The characters. Omg they were pretty stupid a majority of the time. Like, it took them forEVER to figure out about the ants, even though they kept seeing the ants leaving the scene of grisly deaths. I don’t understand how they couldn’t figure out what was going on sooner. They had other problems. The main female character was a little bit more with it, but any time she had a suggestion or advice or any kind of information to give, the main male character would just brushed her off, flat out would disagree / do the exact opposite, or would chuckle at her and say something basically along the lines of “lol I don’t think that is what is happening.” Then, instead of standing her ground or trying to defend how she was right, she’d just shrug her shoulders and take it. I’m not saying she had to be aggressively assertive or anything, but the way it was written just had a very submissive vibe to it that was just off putting.

The Ants seemed a little too sexist for the late 70s early 80s. The way the 2 main characters talked and acted felt very outdated for this time. The author sets up the female main character as a strong, smart individual who is a great shot, but as soon as the chiseled, handsome white man shows up, she just starts to become “hysterical” and cowers behind him, being submissive to what he says and does, even if it’s not going to work. She’s a great shot, but he takes the big rifle because he’s the man. She becomes weak and does the “woman job” of just taking care of the kid and let the man do man things. Oooooooookay. Also, the ants had the power to hypnotize people and lure people to them… but the only people who ever get hypnotized by the ants are the 2 women and the lowly tribal native bad guy. Uhhh huh. Innnnnteresting. Hey, I get when a story is from a different era and “that’s just the way things were back then”. But like I said, at the time this book came out, this kind of BS was more outdated and left behind in the 1950s.

Another problem with the story was just that it was super inconsistent! If the ants were telepathic, why aren’t the ants using that ability all the flipping time or everyone they come across? And the author tells us how the ants are eating every living thing they come across, but more then once these ants (and remember there are a LOT of ants) leave bodies only slightly mutilated or half eaten. Why? It didn’t match up with what the pattern the author had already established. AND. The ants are just walking around without any real destination in mind and the author kind of just makes it sound like the ants path of destruction is just random and that they just roll over everything and just keep on a going… yet, for some reason, at the end, the ants get OCD about eating the handful of people left in this plantation in the Amazon. It gets to the point where the ants stop their march of death and just wait outside the plantation, waiting out the people inside. But. Again… that’s not the pattern the author has already established for the ants. The book was filled with stuff like that. I have no problems with a story that gets ridiculous and crazy, but please, have some form of consistence!

It wasn’t a terrible book, but it was not the best killer bug book I’ve ever read. It was entertaining but the inconsistencies and the outdated why the 2 main characters acted just made this a meh book instead of something more fun.

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