Gabriella Batel

Teen Thrillers, Apocalypses, and a Little Magic


Swarm by Jennifer Lyle

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Thank you to NetGalley and Jennifer Lyle for a free ecopy in exchange for my honest review.

One day, at Shur’s school, giant butterflies begin congregating. Soon, she and her friends realize the creatures are carnivorous and infectious. The whole world goes into lockdown, finally knowing in survival mode what it’s like to live in Shur’s daily anxiety, yet it’s up to Shur to keep those she loves most alive.

The premise of Swarm is simultaneously unnervingly exhilarating and darkly cozy, a familiar apocalypse with an interesting and enticing spin. Shur is such a powerful, well-rounded character who has the most heart-warming, strong relationships with equally unique and loveable people. (I am particularly fond of her bond with her twin brother.) And the apocalypse’s trademark gruesome scenes do the gore, rot, and disease so well.

While undeniably suspenseful and eerie, the pace is rather easygoing with higher danger scenes posted at intervals, most of which connect somehow to future points but do not necessarily throw the plot forward. At moments, this pattern could get somewhat slow. The finale is definitely one of the higher-octane scenes, fun to read, but again feels like an individual occurrence, a final yet separate adventure before an environmentally induced resolution, rather than the culmination of the rest of the pages driven by the characters actions. Because of this—depending on the perspective and preference—it could be seen as mildly anticlimactic. (But again, absolutely exciting.)

I was not a great fan of some of the crass or suggestive adult humor sprinkled throughout, but thankfully it was sparse.

Nonetheless, it is truly a fun experience, a comforting—and at moments chilling—dive into an apocalyptic disaster with struggles and relationships that truly have my heart.

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