Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: Feral by Holly Schindler

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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.

Review: Feral by Holly SchindlerFeral by Holly Schindler
Published by HarperTeen on August 26th 2014
Genres: Mystery, YA
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

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.

Eeeh wut?

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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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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16 Responses to “Review: Feral by Holly Schindler”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    Damn! I was hoping this would be a good book, but judging from your review I probably won’t like this one.
    “See-through brain receptors come with us in the after-life, I guess.”
    LOOOOL! Haha! Well, whatever you were taught in Biology, Giselle, was all wrong. Brain receptors don’t degenerate when you die.
    At least you liked the concept though. I’m going to skip this.

  2. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    Oh man, Blythe told me about this one, but I missed the part where the girl’s face shows up behind the cat’s. Also, I think this book would have terrified you if you lived where I do, because there are consistently like twelve stray cats outside my house.

    Not loving that quote. I wonder if it would have been more interesting in first person?

  3. Carmel @ Rabid Reads

    There’s a big difference between strange good, and WTF. Nothing good can come of unmemorable characters, a weird story, and unnecessary grossness. At least you were still able to get some enjoyment out of Feral, but not nearly enough to convince me to read it. Thanks for the honest review, I appreciate it!

  4. Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

    Wow…I just read another review of this book that made it sound so awesome that I immediatly added it to my wishlist. If I had read this 1st I would not have even given it a 2nd look. Now I have a hard decision to make!

  5. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    I do agree with you on many aspects–I wasn’t a fan of the secondary characters at all as well–they were so bland and lacked character. Yep, it was also pretty weird, I never really understood those feral cats…

    Lovely review, Giselle! <33

  6. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    I wasn’t wowed by this one either. I liked it a bit more than you did, but it just lacked in execution like you said. I do think that the subject matter was something great, though it could have been done better. Great review love!!

  7. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Awesome review Giselle, while this sounds super creepy with the posession and the gore, too bad it fell flat in the execution. The Posession of the cat sounds really intriguing and creepy though, woah!

  8. Amanda @ Vivalabooks

    I hadn’t heard of this book before, but I was intrigued by the synopsis. Not so much after your review. It sounds like it had possibility of being good, but too bad the execution was poor.
    Although, I had some laughs about your description of the ghost possessing a cat.

  9. Karen Blue

    Just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by the synopsis. It sounded so good but your review changed my mind entirely. Thanks for your honest opinion.

  10. Faye D'Social Potato

    This makes me nervous. I recently saw this one in a list somewhere saying it was a really good mystery read, but reading your review now is making me… sweaty. Like seriously. I wanted to read this one so bad but I’m so hesitant now! And unmemorable characters? Talk about a let-down 🙁 Thankfully I’m not the one reviewing this – Aimee is XDD

  11. Ashley

    Dang it! The cover looked good and “The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan” got me hoping for something great. I will probably skip this one now.