Bernard Werber is a scientific journalist who has studied ants for fifteen years as an avocation. He lives in Paris.
"Don't go into the cellar" is the warning given the Wells family as they move into the dingy Paris flat inherited from Jonathan's Uncle Edmund. But when the family dog disappears down the basement steps, the Wellses follow, one by one, into the mysterious darkness below. Uncle Edmund was an eccentric author and scientist whose particular passion was ants. Thus, it must follow that the mystery of the Wells's basement lies in the parallel universe of an exotic ant kingdom. Struggling to rebuild what was once a vast empire in the face of the terrors of contemporary human society, the ants are compelled to deal with cars, tools, and other technopredators. The sf movies of the 1950s are immediately brought to mind here. The one-dimensional humans definitely take back seat to the anthropomorphized ants as characters in this novel of survival. Werber tells us much more about the intelligent and highly structured world of the ant than we may care to know. Readers captivated by Richard Adam's Watership Down might be attracted by this premise but will quickly tire of the novel's uneven characterization and didactic style. Not recommended.‘Susan Gene Clifford, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, Cal.
"This book, to put the matter quite simply, is a masterpiece. . .
--The Sunday Times (London)
"A marvel of warped imagination and offbeat suspense."
"Like Watership Down, to which it will inevitably be compared, Werber's astonishing first novel invites readers into a highly imagined animal world."
--Publishers Weekly(starred review)