Three years later, Allie has joined a group of hardened survivors in an isolated, walled-in encampment. Outside the guarded walls the ferals roam free, and hunt. Allie has been noticing troubling patterns in the ferals' movements, and a disturbing number of new faces in the wild. Something catastrophic is brewing on the horizon, and time is running out. The ferals are coming, and there is no stopping them.
Back when I was still watching The Walking Dead (before all that Negan nonsense), I went through a post apocalypse phase with my reading choices. Survivors scrambling to endure as the world falls apart around them while zombies and bad guys hunt them like dogs. As much as I enjoyed reading them, it didn’t take long to notice a pattern with the storylines and the type of characters in the sub-genre.
There was usually at least one alpha male who coincidentally had an end-of-the-world “prepper” buddy with a secluded cabin. Other members usually included a feisty old guy, a child and at least one hot girl whose only purpose seemed to be constantly stumbling into stupid situations from which she needed to be rescued and serving as a love interest for the alpha male. One of the reasons I cut back on my post apocalypse reading is because I just wasn’t seeing anything outside this basic setup. Then I came across Feral.
Right out of the gate, the book blurb grabbed me by making it clear the main character wasn’t some muscle bound, ex-Navy Seal turned cop. It was a high school kid and a girl. Surely she joined up with some manly men who would rescue and then bed her, right? Nope. In this post apocalypse story, the guys are the problem, not the solution. By the time I got halfway through the blurb, I was in.
One way Feral doesn’t break with convention is by opening the story right before the end-of-the-world outbreak. This is where we’re introduced to Allie and she makes it abundantly clear that she’s not like other high school girls during her practice.
And then, late in practice, things get even more precise, everything fluid, and there’s an amazing moment when I can’t do anything wrong. There I am, running fast, spinning, pivoting, sprinting towards the goal. Nothing can stop me—I know it somehow, really know it—and even when the way looks blocked by three other players, I serpentine my way through. I take a hard hit, but it doesn’t slow me, then another, and today I don’t even feel it. I’ll welcome the bruises tomorrow
Once the opening establishes Allie as the alpha female, it jumps ahead a few years. She and her little sister have joined a group of women holed up in a walled compound to protect themselves from the roving male ferals who are violent, super strong and can literally smell females from miles away. By this point, Allie has become a fierce hunter/protector for the community but even she’s not prepared for the unexpected twists that begin to take place both inside the compound and out in the wild.
Overall, the plot moves at a comfortable pace with enough twists thrown in to keep things interesting. There are a few angsty, YA moments but for the most part, it’s kept to a minimum as the characters are forced to deal with multiple, rapidly-changing scenarios. Big picture moral dilemmas symbolizing the brutal choices every society makes to protect the greater good play out in real time as Allie struggles to figure out what’s right for everyone concerned but mostly for the ones she loves.
Given how how many things are left unresolved at the end, I was a bit surprised there’s been no mention of a sequel. This story is begging to made into a series. I think it’d be a good one.
My other major disappointment is that the book is priced at $11.99. I was given a copy to review for free but even knowing it’s an above average read, I don’t think I’d pay that much for any book not written by someone named Stephen King. I think the publisher is doing Feral a disservice by pricing it so high which is a real shame considering how much it has going for it.
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