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Breed: A Novel Hardcover – September 4, 2012

3.3 out of 5 stars 159 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Forget vampires, zombies and guys clad in hockey masks brandishing oversized machetes. Chase Novak unleashes truly scary literary horror villains in BREED: Mom and Dad. Novak...explores what happens when one's parents aren't quite the protectors they should be in this excellent horror novel. He probes emotionally deep and heartbreaking themes of family and friendship that seem fresh in a book that's a bit like a mad-scientist movie-or Frankenstein if the monster decided he needed some kiddos in his life.... The kids escape their domestic prison, which shifts gears in BREED from a psychological tale to a high-stakes adventure where your fingers can't flip the pages fast enough.... BREED doesn't need love triangles, twist endings or aspects of a gore fest to keep an audience enraptured. Instead, it's the simple conceit-how do you love parents who do more harm than good?-and a moving ending that make Novak's horror novel a thrill to read."―Brian Truitt, USA Today

"Advanced reproductive technologies prove just a new form of mad science in this timely, engrossing medical thriller.... Novak writes with an energy that propels the reader through the novel's unlikely science and subplots. He also winks enough to suggest that this all could be a black comedy on modern parenting."―Publishers Weekly

"Although the phrase 'I couldn't put it down' is used promiscuously in book blurbs (and reviews) it isn't often that I am so caught up in a novel that I have to finish it before thinking about doing anything else. Of course, the pacing and length of a book plays a big role in this phenomenon-once I raced through the first 100 pages of BREED in record time, finishing off another 210 pages was a realistic goal before turning in for the night.... The grabber...is in the set-ups that convince us we are in the 'real world' rather than some phony B-horror movie netherworld. We believe in the people we meet and the place where they live, so when ghastly things start happening, we have to know how the story will play out.... But the increasingly macabre and truly horrifying developments kept me in a vise-like grip.... BREED substitutes science for the religious mythology of Rosemary's Baby so it is, in some ways, more believable than the Ira Levin classic. Maybe too believable."―Joe Meyers, Connecticut Post

"BREED is a daring, ultra-modern novel dealing with bleeding edge science and contemporary concerns. It's dark fiction, but not as we know it. An antidote to the anodyne paranormal romances, vampire horrors, and gory splatterfests littering the book charts, this is a truly original work. While transcending the modern, it also deals with universal themes populating literature since we first started telling stories around campfires. Ultimately, this is a novel about the dangers of science-bogus science in particular. It's a story of the Promethean folly of human beings. Written in urgent, vital prose that quickens the blood, it confronts. BREED is an intelligent, dark thriller dense with paranoia, yielding creative anxiety, a genetically modified rollercoaster."―A.J. Kirby, New York Journal of Books

"...A delightfully nauseating read.... Chase Novak has hit upon the perfect blend of terrifying real-life topics.... [and] repurposed his literary flair for observation into grisly narrative schadenfreude.... There is a clever fable about class here, as the Twisdens' tumble down the evolutionary tree mirrors their fall down the economic ladder.... And it's the perfect dark fairy tale for these times, when more than a few readers might secretly find themselves wishing that the world's elites would be brought so low as to start pooping in their own posh living rooms."―Annalee Newitz, NPR.org

"...A slice of shivering dread that won't allow you to look at in vitro fertilization, children running loose in Central Park or parents who find their children 'delicious' in the same way again."Ken Salikof, The New York Daily News

"Smart and brutal, this joins the ranks of such elegant domestic shockers as Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk about Kevin, John Ajvide Lindqvist's Let Me In, and Justin Evans' A Good and Happy Child."―Booklist

"...A foray into urbane horror, chicly ghoulish, with a malevolent emphasis on family values.... BREED exploits the contrast between civilized and feral behavior. The grand furnishings of the Twisden homestead wind up clawed, chewed and torn as Alex and Leslie's conditions worsen; the cellar goes all Silence of the Lambs. And in a really fine set piece Mr. Spencer stages a long chase through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the relics of primitive times and the veneer of privilege always coexist.... If Mr. Spencer's name were not openly attached to BREED, it would still read like the work of a serious writer with keen antennas for sensory detail.... Above and beyond its fatality count BREED has originality on its side; the ending is a true shocker. The book sets out to convey what it is like to be 'subject to the whip and rattle of unspeakable temptations.' And it does."―Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"...Will remind horror connoisseurs of Rosemary's Baby, another Big Apple tale of parenthood gone horribly awry. What Spencer shares most with Ira Levin is a darkly droll sense of humor... [BREED] matches the earlier book's propulsive narrative and satirical edge."―The San Francisco Chronicle

"...Like a literary, contemporary version of Rosemary's Baby-a well-to-do Manhattan couple has everything they could possibly want, only they desperately want children. After trying everything treatment they can, they resort to a highly unusual procedure that's successful in that they conceive twins. But there are also some seriously nasty side-effects that lead to a creepy, bloody, hairy thrill ride."―Stephan Lee, Entertainment Weekly

"A cautionary tale about the perils of fertility treatments turns into a gore fest for the strong of stomach.... There may well be a massive popular readership for this gruesome tale..."―Kirkus Reviews

"Disturbing and funny and very visual..."―Robin Abrahams, Boston.com's "Miss Conduct Reads" blog

"The best horror novel I've read since Peter Straub's Ghost Story. By turns terrifying and blackly funny, BREED is a total blast."―Stephen King

"An honest-to-goodness page-turner."―Bookpage

"A page-turner, classic yet original, filled with detail both subtle and unforgettable, unnerving in its mad logic and genuinely frightening."―Richard Price, author of Lush Life and Clockers

"The definition of a literary horror novel."―Russ Marshalek, Flavorwire

"The most elegantly skin-crawling, gut-churning novel I've read in years."―Warren Ellis, author of Crooked Little Vein and Transmetropolitan

"Diabolically entertaining.... Along with suspense and shocks, Novak delivers enough humor to make the mayhem palatable...with triumphant effect. The best American horror novel since Scott Smith's The Ruins, BREED is redolent of Roadl Dahl at his creepy best."―Dennis Drabelle, The Washington Post

"There are passages during which BREED is really visceral."―Sam Thielman, Newsday

"For all its Gothic horror pedigree, BREED is ultimately a smart commentary on modern parenting."―David Abrams for Salon

"This violent page-turner had a big impact on my novel The First Bad Man, because it forced me to recognize that I wanted to write a thriller too - i.e., I wanted the reader to read quickly, with some urgency."―Miranda July, New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Chase Novak is the pseudonym for Scott Spencer. Spencer is the author of ten novels, including Endless Love, which has sold over two million copies to date, and the National Book Award finalist A Ship Made of Paper. He has written for Rolling Stone, the New York Times, The New Yorker, GQ, and Harper's. BREED is his debut novel as Chase Novak.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books; First Edition edition (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316198560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316198561
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,171,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I read widely, including horror (okay, I love horror), and I was curious what a more 'literary' writer might come up with in the genre. This book was just bad. So bad. It's not poorly written (we've all picked up the odd book where the writer can barely put a sentence together), and the odd literary flourish is there to let us know that the guy knows how to write. The problem is that he has no idea how to write horror or, perhaps, how to come up with an interesting story or compelling characters. I mean, isn't that why we read a novel in the first place?

So, the specifics of why I disliked this book so much:

One: The present tense gets really annoying, and gives the effect of distance from what's going on in the story and with the characters. You'd think present tense would create a sense of immediacy, but it doesn't. It creates distance and is irritating.

Two: There is very little lead in, no time to develop the characters before they're eating hamsters. The result is characters who are wooden and unreal. The couple cry about each other, but it's hard to see them as real people at all. We know the kids care about their parents, but we only know that because they say they do, and say the parents weren't always bad. But all we, as readers, see is a set of wooden, warped people who are just a little two-dimensional to even be very scary. The most realistic character in the whole thing is the schoolteacher, which leads me to think that the author doesn't know how to create an "extreme" character who is also believable. Instead, those characters (most of the major characters in this book) are nothing but cartoons.
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Format: Hardcover
Breed is the story of the American Dream gone wrong, of having everything and it never being enough, of loving those who potentially hurt us the most, and ultimately of love conquering our darkest urges. I had heard amazing early buzz about Breed before BEA and I was so happy to receive a copy there. Let me tell you now, although Breed took some twists I didn't anticipate, I was by no means disappointed. I finished this book in one page-turning, hair-raising day and loved every minute of it.

So, Alex and Leslie have a fairy tale romance. They love each other deeply, have great jobs, have more money and luxury than they could possibly need. They simply have it all...except...they want children, their own children and are unable to make them. Enter a last ditch effort at fertility through a shady connection and even more dubious doctor. Everything should work out just perfectly, right?

Cut to ten years later and they have two beautiful twins Alice and Adam. They are gorgeous, brilliant, clever, loving...and being held prisoner in their beautiful Upper East Side home. In order to protect them from eminent danger, Alex and Leslie lock the twins up every night without fail. Leaving the adults to continue their descent into evil while keeping their precious darlings safe.

The chase is on as Alice and Adam search for answers about themselves and try to save themselves from certain death. Breed is not for the faint of heart. (Pet lovers in particular, be prepared.) It is gory, messy and disturbing in all of the best ways. The mystery is compelling and the stakes are high.

After finishing Breed I had two distinct thoughts: 1. This would make a great movie and 2. This book needs a sequel.
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Format: Hardcover
As an avid horror fan, I have been pretty upset about how much I have been let down by the genre when it comes to novels. Well thanks to Breed, I think I have found the solution to that problem; I need to be reading adult horror, not YA horror. The content is much more vivid and I can honestly say that this book chilled me to the bone. This was horror at its finest, we had an evil scientist injecting people with animal hormones and we got to experience the changes that these hormones brought in people. Let me tell you, it wasn't pretty!

Leslie and Alex are in love, they have all the money they could ask for, but the one thing that they want cannot be bought, a child. They have been through years and years of procedures and nothing is working. Upon meeting a couple that they remember from their infertility meetings they realize the wife is now pregnant, through this couple they are recommended to Dr. Kis, a doctor in Slovenia. Once they make the venture to this foreign country and get the necessary shots they are finally blessed with a bun in the oven. But as the pregnancy wears on, changes start happening to their bodies. Hair is growing thick and full where it never grew before and they have a hunger like they could have never imagined. Being witness to the changes Leslie and Alex go through from the third person narrative of the story worked very well in this novel. It was as if a horror movie was playing out in front of me on a theatre screen. I was fully engrossed in this story and I hungrily (pun intended!) turned the pages throughout.

This is a frightening tale at its core, Chase Novak has taken the one place that any child should be able to find comfort and turned it into the scariest beast imaginable.
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