Silver by Chris Wooding

silverBibliographic Information:

  • Publisher, Date: Scholastic Press, 2014
  • Edition: First
  • Description: 313 pages; 22cm.
  • Interest Level: YA
  • Summary: When a boy is bitten by a strange silver beetle, he becomes the first victim of a mysterious infection. But this is no ordinary virus. It turns flesh into metal, and pupils into machines. As the virus spreads and more terrifying, blood-thirsty machines appear, a small group manage to barricade themselves inside the school. Can they keep the machines at bay long enough for help to arrive? Is help even coming? Meanwhile the virus is spreading and its victims are changing… evolving… becoming stronger… The world as our heroes know it is turning silver. Will any of them survive?  Retrieved from
  • Book Trailer:
  • ISBN: 978-0-545-60392-8
  • Subjects:
    • Alien life – Fiction
    • Boarding schools – Fiction
    • Communicable diseases – Fiction
    • Survival – Fiction

Reader’s Annotation: Beetles don’t attack people!  But that beetle bite him and another one flew into my camera.

Plot Summary: Paul, who lost his parents in a car accident, is now the new kid at the Mortingham Boarding Academy.  After six months he still hasn’t settled into the school and is frequently in trouble.  But things begin to change when two students find a strange silver beetle near the school, and shortly after during a class outing near the pond, the students are attacked by a bunch of those same silvery gray beetles.  And that’s just the beginning.  The bugs are spreading some kind of disease that takes over any biological matter and turns it into a cybernetic organism.  First it’s the animals that are infected and turned into something very alien, then its people.  Two boys bitten by the bugs at the pond get sick, then the headmaster is attacked by a strange silver dog.  All are sick and getting sicker.  As the silver spreads Paul and some of the other students must find a safe place in an increasingly unsafe world.  Any form of life, no matter how big or small that is infected by the disease becomes a part of a hive like life form always seeking to add to its mass any uninfected lives.  Isolated and terrified, who will survive, or will anyone?

Critical Evaluation:  Chris Wooding doesn’t write for the faint of heart and this book is a good example of that.  He creates a story that moves from a bucolic English country school scene to raging, apocalyptic nightmare in just a few hours.  There is no time for adjustment or planning; it’s survival on the fly for a group of kids, fighting against something they don’t understand while struggling to make it from minute to minute in a world gone mad and deadly.   Wooding’s characters are fairly well fleshed out, though not as three dimensional in every case as one might want.  Then again, not many of them live very long so why work hard to create completely developed characters.  The book is a little on the violent side but most YA readers should be able to handle it if forewarned.  Overall, for science fiction horror it is an excellent effort and a good source of chills.

Author’s Brief Bio:  Chris Wooding grew up in a small town in Leicestershire, where not much of anything happened. So he started to write novels. He was sixteen when he completed his first. He had an agent by eighteen. By nineteen he had signed his first book deal. When he left university he began to write full-time, and he has been doing it professionally all his adult life.

Now thirty-two, Chris has written sixteen books, which have been translated into twenty languages, won various awards and been published around the world. He writes for film and television, and has several projects in development.  Retrieved from

Genre Designation: Science Fiction / Horror

Possible Curriculum Links:

  • Computers & programming
  • Biology
  • Diseases / plagues

Book Talk Ideas:  What can you do to avoid catching a disease?

Materials Relating to Potential Challenges:


Why this book was selected.  I love creepy science fiction and this one was very scary in an age appropriate way, of course.


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