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Literature / Killer Species

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Killer Species is a children's series written by Michael P. Spradlin in The New '10s. It tells the story of Emmet Doyle, son of Dr. Benton Doyle, a wildlife biologist who's been summoned to the Everglades by park superintendent Dr. Rosalita Geaux and is bringing a reluctant Emmet along with him. There, it's revealed that he's been called in to study a strange new creature that's been discovered in the wetlands, which is soon discovered to be a genetically-engineered apex predator that was created to hunt and destroy other invasive species that are harming the local ecosystem. However, these new predators are just as big a threat as the animals they hunt, and so Emmet, his father and his new friends must work to remove them and find and capture their creator, the mysterious Dr. Catalyst.

The series consists of four books:

  1. Menace From the Deep (2013)
  2. Feeding Frenzy (2013)
  3. Out For Blood (2014)
  4. Ultimate Attack (2014)

This series contains examples of:

  • Archnemesis Dad: Or Granddad, as the case turns out to be. Specifically, Dr. Catalyst's true identity is revealed in book 4 to be Philip Geaux Jr., whose grandson is Emmet's new friend Calvin Geaux, and while he views Emmet as his number one enemy, Calvin's just as opposed to Dr. Catalyst as his friend.
  • Asleep in Class: Emmett's classmate Jimmy Johnston (or "Double J") has a habit of doing this in book 1.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: The Blood Jackets of book 3 have venomous stingers, courtesy of their hornet DNA.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Book 3 introduces the Blood Jackets, a hybrid species of baldface hornet and vampire bat, made to target and kill humans. They're about as big as the normal bats, and are very dangerous to those they attack... though the vast genetic differences result in them being relatively and naturally short-lived.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Calvin comes to Emmet's rescue, more than once.
    • Book 4 sees an FBI tactical team arriving in time to save Calvin and Emmet from a gun-toting Dr. Catalyst and finally arrest him after Calvin has already saved Emmet from the Swamp Cat.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": In book 4, Dr. Catalyst yells this at Emmet soon after Emmet reveals that I Know Your True Name.
  • Bound and Gagged: Dr. Doyle gets captured, handcuffed and locked in a cage in book 1, with Dr. Catalyst live-streaming video of him in the cage and threatening to kill him unless Dr. Geaux closes down the Everglades to humans so he can do his work in peace.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Calvin to his grandfather Dr. Catalyst in the climax of book 4, pointedly telling him that Catalyst is the real threat to the Everglades.
  • Canine Companion: Emmet's dog Apollo, a twenty- or twenty-five-pound mixed-breed who's half poodle and half schnauzer.
  • Captain Obvious: Emmet has a habit of using the phrase.
    • Namedropped in book 1, when a comment from Dr. Doyle prompts Emmet to sigh and think to himself that "His dad was so Captain Obvious sometimes."
    • It gets namedropped again in book 3, when Emmet says "Really, Captain Obvious?" to Calvin when the latter says the Blood Jackets were probably nesting in the ventilation system — which is where they just emerged from.
    • Namedropped again in book 4 when Calvin brushes off Emmet's suspicions about the fire that's supposedly and suddenly broken out in the hospital they're in, saying only that "Fires happen sometimes. Even in hospitals." Emmet snarkily thinks "Thank you, Captain Obvious." in return.
  • *Cough* Snark *Cough*: In book 1, Double J does this early on about his science teacher Dr. Newton, who snarks back that he must be sick if he's coughing like that.
  • Deadly Game: Used in book 4 when Dr. Catalyst captures Emmet and prepares to release him in a confined area with the Swamp Cat, challenging him to survive against it for a period of time.
  • Disappeared Dad: Calvin Geaux's father Lucas disappeared and was declared dead six years before the series started, after what was believed to be a boating accident.
  • Eco-Terrorist: Series villain Dr. Catalyst starts as a Well-Intentioned Extremist (albeit a highly egotistical one), creating hybrid super-predators for the purpose of hunting and destroying invasive species in Florida. However, when people react to his actions by trying to eliminate his creations and the government publicly labels him a terrorist, he winds up focusing more on eliminating those who oppose him, with his hybrids in books 3 and 4 being specifically created to go after humans.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Dr. Doyle doesn't care for his full first name Benton, asking Dr. Geaux to call him Ben instead.
  • Eye Scream: While the Muraecudas are attacking Emmet's friend Stuke in book 2, another of their friends stabs at the animal's eye with her snorkel, leaving it injured.
  • Faking the Dead:
    • At the end of book 1, Dr. Catalyst (who'd been injured after being bitten by his own Pterogators) does this by spreading a lot of his own blood in his boat and leaving it to be found. The authorities fall for it, and even after he publicly announces his survival to the media in book 2, they still insist this is just an accomplice instead of the original for a while.
    • Book 4 reveals that this isn't the first time he's faked his own death, having gone into hiding long ago to work on his projects.
  • Fiendish Fish: Book 2 introduces the Muraecudas, a genetically-engineered hybrid of Moray eel, reef shark and barracuda, made for hunting the invasive lionfish that have been causing damage to the local reef ecosystem off the Florida coast. However, they're also dangerous to humans, sending at least one boy to the hospital after biting him.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: In book 4, Emmet says this to Dr. Catalyst:
    "Dr. Catalyst, I presume? I've always wanted to say that. Once you were caught."
  • I Choose to Stay: At the end of book 4, even though he's long wanted to go back to Montana, Emmet finally decides that he doesn't mind staying in Florida after all.
  • I Know Your True Name: Emmet reveals this to Dr. Catalyst when the latter is holding him captive, which is enough to make him lose his cool and let out a Big "SHUT UP!".
  • Improvised Weapon: Paddles, snorkels, hockey sticks, fire extinguishers and wasp spray all get used by people to defend themselves in an emergency over the course of the series.
    • Book 4 sees Emmet using a stick, a nail and a shoelace to make an improvised spear.
  • In-Series Nickname: Most often used by Emmet. He sometimes refers to his father as the "Bird Nerd", and he's called Dr. Catalyst "Dr. Crazylyst".
    • Dr. Newton is known as "the Newt" for short.
  • Introduced Species Calamity: The main antagonist of the series is a scientist who's genetically engineered new predatory species specifically to hunt down and destroy real-life cases of this trope, such as pythons and other large snakes in the Florida Everglades and lionfish in the coral reefs off the Florida coastline. Local authorities agree that he means well, but regard his creations as an even bigger example of the trope and call for their extermination, earning his wrath and his deciding that humans themselves are an invasive species that needs to be eliminated.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Emmet does this to Dr. Catalyst pretty much every time they meet, especially when he's being held captive in book 4.
  • I Warned You: After Dr. Catalyst disappears at the end of book 1, Emmet's convinced that he's just hiding out and will be back, though everyone else is convinced he's dead. Naturally, Emmet's proven right when the Muraecudas begin appearing and says so, though his dad and Dr. Geaux still aren't convinced for a while.
  • Kick the Dog: Literally in book 2, which sees Dr. Catalyst kidnapping Emmet's dog Apollo and threatening to feed him to the Muraecudas unless the Florida government does as he demands (namely, closing the beaches and the Everglades so his Muraecudas and Pterogators can do their work in peace). Luckily, Emmet is able to save him.
  • LEGO Genetics: This is series villain Dr. Catalyst's M.O., as he combines DNA from different species to create a new type of creature specifically bred to hunt down and destroy an invasive species that's devastating a particular environment. Book 1 features Pterogators (a combination alligator/great gray owl created to destroy the Burmese pythons and boa constrictors in the Everglades), book 2 introduces the Muraecudas (a hybrid of Moray eel, reef shark and barracuda made for hunting lionfish), book 3 debuts the Blood Jackets (a hybrid of baldface hornet and vampire bat, which target humans), and book 4 centers around the Swamp Cat (a lone hybrid specimen combining the DNA of a hyena and Florida panther, made to hunt and kill Emmet Doyle for thwarting Catalyst's plans multiple times).
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Catalyst, creator of the hybrid species. Of course, he doesn't see himself as one, just a person who's willing to do whatever it takes to save the environment.
  • Missing Mom: Emmet's mother came down with an unspecified illness and died a year before Emmet and his father moved to Florida; Emmet, who's still mourning her, isn't happy about being uprooted yet again.
  • Never Found the Body:
    • Lucas Geaux's body was never found after the boat accident that is believed to have killed him, though they dragged the swamp around his boat. It's suspected that the swamp animals ate the remains.
    • Dr. Catalyst's body is never found after he escapes at the end of book 1, though enough blood is left behind that the authorities believe he's dead. Emmet suspects otherwise, and it's ultimately proven that he's right.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Book 1 features the Pterogators, a genetically-engineered combination of alligator and great gray owl, created to hunt and destroy the invasive pythons and boa constrictors in the Everglades. They also prove a threat to humans, resulting in a task force being created to investigate and eliminate them.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: "Stuke" Stukaczowski, one of Emmet's new classmates, whose real first name is never given.
  • Panthera Awesome: The fourth and final book features the Swamp Cat, a hybrid of a Florida panther and a hyena (which may look like a canine species, but is genetically feline), intended to hunt and kill a single human. It doesn't succeed in this goal, but that's more through Emmet's ingenuity and other people coming to his aid than any weakness on the Swamp Cat's part.
  • Punny Name: Emmet certainly thinks so, at least, in book 1. When he finds out they have a science teacher named Mr. Newton, he snarkily asks "Is the English teacher Mr. Dickens?"
  • The Quiet One: Calvin Gueax doesn't speak much, or at least that's how Emmet feels about him. He can get really talkative when it's about science though.
  • Really Moves Around: Emmet and his father are moving for the fourth time in six years as the first book starts, and Emmet's not happy about it, since it's his second move without his mom and he's tired of always being the new kid in school.
  • Red Herring: For a while, Emmet suspects that Dr. Newton, a science teacher at his school who's both rich and majorly into protecting the environment, is — or is at least associated with — Dr. Catalyst, who would need a lot of money to finance his projects and is out to protect the environment in his own way. Even when Dr. Newton is kidnapped by Dr. Catalyst in book 2, Emmet thinks it might have been faked to throw them off Dr. Catalyst's trail. As it turns out, Dr. Newton is completely innocent (and actually an undercover Interpol agent); Dr. Catalyst is someone else entirely.
  • Revenge Myopia: Series villain Dr. Catalyst feels he's perfectly justified in killing anyone who gets in the way of his plans, which involve creating new predatory hybrid species, designed specifically to kill off all members of an invasive species that are wreaking havoc on the environment. He doesn't care that his creations also attacked the humans, who killed them in self-defense; they destroyed his creations and must pay.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: Book 4 reveals that Dr. Newton, a science teacher at Tasker Middle School whom Emmet's suspected of being Dr. Catalyst, is actually an undercover agent for Interpol and has been after Dr. Catalyst for years.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Series villain Dr. Catalyst starts as a highly egotistical one, creating hybrid super-predators for the purpose of hunting and destroying invasive species in Florida, thereby protecting the native species and reversing the ecological harm they do, and doesn't get why people see he and his creations as the bigger threat — he also made them controllable and unable to breed (though some of them eventually adapted to overcome this) so they wouldn't take their targets' place as a threat. In books 3 and 4, he abandons this and just decides to kill off a lot of people for opposing him.