Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: Feral

By Holly Schindler
Expected publication August 26, 2014 by HarperTeen

Claire barely survived a brutal attack in Chicago, leaving her scared and angry. So, when her father's career takes him to Peculiar, Missouri, she thinks it's a fresh start for her as well. Except a teen girl has just shown up dead and Claire seems to be seeing things that no one else is - like a menacing fog of dead souls. Hungry dead souls.

The blurb for this book pitched it as "The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan" - there was no way I could resist that! Unfortunately, this book didn't live up to those expectations for me.

The majority of the time I spent reading this book, it just felt strange. In fact, that's what I kept telling people as I read - "this book is weird." And it is. Now that I've finished it, it's much clearer to me what Schindler was trying to do - without giving spoilers, think along the lines of Charm & Strange - but with a title like that for comparison, this book just does not succeed at its goal.

I never connected with Claire. On the one hand, I can understand her anger after the attack. On the other, it seemed very misplaced to me and I never felt like she wanted to give other people a chance. It's hard for me to want to continue with a book if I can't understand where the main character is coming from - not impossible, but difficult. And Claire wasn't the only character I found too strange to relate to - I still couldn't explain Becca to you, even after finishing the book. The weird tensions that occur between characters I guess are supposed to all be explained away by the ending, but while they're happening, they're uncomfortable and don't feel true to life at all.

Additionally, the feral cats. Obviously where the book gets its title from, I kept waiting to discover their significance. I'm still waiting. Authors, don't just include a random plot element that you think sounds cool without actually giving it meaning - it's frustrating when that meaning never unveils itself.

The first part of this book is plain old not interesting - it's full of characters I don't understand with weird vibes surrounding them and not a lot of action. When the action finally starts to amp up, it's just all so strange. It just didn't work for me. Maybe other readers won't find the same flaws I did, but this book just wasn't successful at what it set out to do.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.

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