Stinger is a 1988 science fiction horror novel written by Robert McCammon and published by Pocket Books. Set in the remote town of Inferno, Texas, an alien creature descends from the stars in search of another. He then traps the town and ravages the land causing death and destruction in his wake, unleashing an army of horrible mutations…until the people rise up in a final, desperate battle for survival and for the fate of the planet.
- Great characters
- Great, well-written story
- Good pacing
- Violent, intense, and gory
- Great setting
- Great atmosphere
- Slow beginning
Plot: The story is set in the small isolated town of Inferno, Texas. One day an alien craft crashes into Inferno and an alien named Daufin possesses the body of a little girl. Right after, another ship crash lands and raises a force field around the town. The second ship is revealed to be a bounty hunter tracking Daufin and sparing no one in its path. The story is pretty straight forward and it all takes place within twenty-four hours (which is pretty impressive). It is pretty slow in the beginning and of course this is to develop the world and the characters. A lot of events jump off in the story and with how engaging the story is readers will definitely find themselves turning pages to see what happens next. The story feels like a mixture of Men in Black, Cowboys & Aliens, Under the Dome, and Salem’s Lot. There are numerous subplots; the rivalry between the Rattlesnakes and Renegades, the friction between Cody and his drunken father Curt, that just give the story depth. It definitely feels like a pretty intense read especially as the stakes keep rising and what starts off as a bit of a mystery quickly accelerates to a race to save the world. The ending is satisfying. (4 out of 5)
Characters: Loved the highly diverse cast of characters, each with good personality and interesting side stories. Sure, a lot of them are troupes, but they are well-written troupes. Love the idea of normal people who have to deal with such a terrifying threat. Daufin is a pretty interesting character though a bit of a douche for possessing a six-year-old girl named Stevie Hammond. She’s basically an alien fugitive fleeing from the pursuit of alien bounty hunter (and no, not the alien from Predator). Other important characters include Stevie’s parents high school teach Tom and veterinary doctor Jessie Hammond, the town sheriff Vance, the town drunk Curt Lockett, leader of the Renegades gang Cody Lockett and the leader of the Rattlesnakes gang Rick Jurado. There are other characters including a mentally ill military vet who takes care of an imaginary dog, a rich old lady, and an air force colonel.
The main antagonist is Stinger, an alien bounty hunter determined to capture Daufin. This dude is pretty damn terrifying but awesome. He creates mutant reanimated corpses of the dead residents whose new forms having needle teeth, sharp claws, a slimy complexion, and scorpion-like tails. Dude put a force field around the town. While trying to track down its prey it decides to return with its species to colonize the Earth. Stinger itself looks like a giant mutant centipede/scorpion/man chimera-hybrid thing. (5 out of 5)
Writing: McCammon does spin an extremely well-written tale, the kind of tale that perfectly blends science, horror, suspense, and gore. There is more than enough drama between the characters and the action is handled really well. It can be pretty graphic and the deaths are violent and gory but it adds to the intensity of the situation. It can be pretty damn scary at times. There is also a lot of collateral damage that makes the events happening in Inferno that much more epic.
The town setting of Inferno was actually a pretty good setting, a small town in the middle of the desert, and it being set up as a dying town due to its copper mine has “dried” out. Next to the failing economy, there is the racial tension between the residents of Inferno (white Americans) and the those of Bordertown (Mexican-Americans). This is usually represented in the skirmishes between the high school students, most notably the two gangs. So there is a lot of care given to the writing. (4 out of 5)
The Verdict: In the end, Stinger is a surprisingly good read and takes the best of science fiction and horror and blends them together. The story does start off pretty slow. However, when things jump off, they jump off. The story is pretty solid, the characters are great, good world building, the writing is great, the antagonist is freakin’ awesome, and the atmosphere and scares are brilliantly done. Stinger gets 4 out of 5. This is one of the best horror books I’ve ever read and I highly recommend it to horror fans.