I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Feral by Holly Schindler
Published by HarperTeen on August 26th 2014
Genres: Mystery, YA
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The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.
It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.
But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.
But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….
Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.
Feral was a very strange read. And I’m usually really good with strange – I love a book that brings something new and so bizarre that you’re like WTF! the whole way through – think Charm & Strange or (Don’t You) Forget About Me. Feral, though, was not this good kind of strange. It was cringe-worthy and full of absurd weirdness that just left me annoyed.
It starts with a girl – Claire – who gets attacked in a Chicago alley – apparently one of the safe alleys. Due to the anxiety she suffers from since, they decide to start fresh in a new eccentric little town. This is where she starts seeing the spirit of a murdered girl, driving Claire to solve this murder. This sounds all pretty generic supernatural-thriller stuff, but as the story progressed it just got wacky and ridiculous. For instance, the ghost in question could feel pain inflicted on her physical body after her death. Umm ok. See-through brain receptors come with us in the after-life, I guess. But my favorite part: when this ghost possesses a cat! Claire sees her faded, ghostly face behind the cat’s and everything – right before she eats a rat! A freaking stray cat who’s just always there. This town has like a million cats, who just about get as much airtime in this story as the MC herself. *shudders* Oh and I hope you’re not squeamish, because there’s detailed accounts of cats eating dead things. Like mice and a human body. Yep.
Anyways… Then we’re supposed to feel horror and shock from Claire’s “connection” to this dead girl, which was made to be this epic “OMG I’m reliving my tragedy!!” storyline but this was reeeaally stretched. Like:
“It was all connected. Claire could feel it. Serena had stayed to work on a story about a boy up to no good and had turned up dead. Claire had written a story about a boy up to his own kind of no good, and had turned up beaten to a pulp in the middle of a Chicago parking lot. The kind of beaten that had very nearly resulted in her own death.”
It was too similar. Too, too similar. There were no mere coincidences this strong.
As for the rest. The characters were unmemorable – the secondary characters were especially boring. The writing style was not my favorite at all. It felt like a workout to read it at times with its drawn out sentences, unnecessary details, and continuous use of odd metaphors that made me cringe.
Strangely, with all that irritated me, I was still slightly entertained by it all and curious about where it was going. I really liked the concept in the end; I think it touches on an important topic that should be explored more in YA, but the execution could definitely use some work.
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