It is nice sometimes to go back to a book and see if it holds up over time to match the experience of a first reading. Gina Ranalli has been an author I enjoy for a long time now and I decided to try re-reading one of her books to see if it still held the same thrills as when I read it years ago. I decided to take a trip back into her unique brand of bizarre fiction and picked up “Swarm of Flying Eyeballs” for a second reading.
There is never any excitement in this small town. That’s what those who reside there think. After all, what kind of excitement could ever come to a town that is known solely for the blueberries that are farmed there? Unfortunately, as the residents of this sleepy town are soon to find out, excitement can strike anywhere.
When a bus full of summer school students takes a field trip to a local blueberry field, they expected a day of picking berries and enjoying the sunny summer day. The field trip quickly takes a turn for the worse when the berries start to float up out of the bushes. Even worse, they are no longer blueberries but floating blue eyeballs with poisonous needles for tails. No one knows if this is an alien invasion or a government experiment gone awry and in the end it really does not matter. All that matters is survival as the swarm of eyeballs descends on the small town.
“Swarm of Flying Eyeballs” is a type of homage to the creature-feature movies of years past and it works well on that level. Ranalli keeps the action coming fast and furious throughout the short book and there is a little room for much more than the mayhem caused by the swarm. The small town is quickly swept up in the fear and violence of the eyeballs and it is an all-out struggle for survival. The pages fly by as the eyeballs battle the humans and any thoughts of introspection are quickly swept away. This book is easy to read in one sitting not only for its fairly short length but also by the fast pace of the narrative that almost compels the reader to keep turning pages until the end.
This book is a little more than just a science fiction/horror/adventure story, however. In her own unique way, Ranalli provides some insight into the nature of the human mind through the reaction of the characters to the crises. The story constantly switches perspectives as different characters are confronted by the eyeballs. There is not a lot of elaboration here. Rather, Ranalli allows the actions of the characters to speak for themselves and the reader must try to figure out the meaning behind it all. This book can be read as a simple story of a town attacked by poisonous eyeballs or a story with the action overlying a hidden meaning. Either way, this is a fun read and a good way to pass an hour or so lost in the twisted imagination of Gina Ranalli.