Beware the Wild
Genre: Paranormal, Thriller, YA
Publication date: October 21st 2014
It's an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp -- the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn't return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.
Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp's done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance -- and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.
This debut novel is full of atmosphere, twists and turns, and a swoon-worthy romance.
-A copy was provided by HarperCollins for review-
This started on a great note with a super creepy premise that had a lot of potential, but it started dragging and getting more and more ridiculous; magical peaches and gaterboys and all. in the end, I unfortunately can’t say I enjoyed this one very much.
It did grab me full-on at the start, though. Sterling’s brother goes missing inside a swamp, and the next thing you know, a strange girl comes out in his place and no one but our main character even remembers her brother. So of course, her family thinks she’s gone insane. They remember this new girl, though, as if she had been there all along. Even Sterling starts getting false memories about their childhood together. Sounds awesome, right? I loved it,then, I truly did! I particularly enjoyed the creepy atmosphere and eerie swamp that seemed like a character in itself. It’s described as being both magical and evil, and had me completely enamoured. From then on, the story did not go in the direction I had hoped for and expected, however. We find out very early on what the secret behind the swamp is, and why Sterling is the only one who remembers the missing people. That was the beginning of the end for me, sadly. After learning of the swamp’s… abilities, I was less enthused with the whole story arc. The mysterious element went from intriguing to mildly interesting and even silly. The answers found in magical peaches and magical cherries only made me snicker and snort, and then when you add in half boy, half alligator beasts… nope, not for me at all.
Still, I could have rolled with it if I had cared about the characters, but unfortunately they fell flat for me as well. I feel like Sterling had this whole complex character arc that just did not come through. She talks of her physically abusive father and having a sort of anxiety anorexia, yet this is merely mentioned in passing. Sure it’s mentioned several times, but it’s a tell rather than show writing style that ultimately failed to make me feel her psychological scars or emotional struggles. Which is a real shame because it could have given the story a lot more depth and tension. Instead, I grew frustrated with my inability to understand her as her personality simply came off as confusing. Then we’ve got the secondary characters who felt like convenient plot devices with nonexistent personalities. In turn, there was absolutely zero chemistry between her and the love interest, Heath, who was your cliché misunderstood “rumoured” bad boy.
While I enjoyed the suspense and the eerie atmosphere built around this swamp, the execution of the mystery and the route it took really bored me. I also did not expect this level of strange – and not the good kind of strange (for me at least). Really, though, this is like a B-Rated horror movie. Some will find themselves fully entertained by it, and others will roll their eyes and sigh. I’m sure you can guess which side I landed on. And with that, I wish you good luck with this one!
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