Published by Harper Teen on October 21st, 2014
Genres: fantasy, young adult
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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.
Right around the time I started reading YA again (thanks, Twilight!) I fell in love with Louisiana as a setting. There is something fascinating about the state, almost as if it’s a country all its own. It has a vibrant culture, unique (and yummy) cuisine, stand-out architecture, and even a dialect that is distinct and identifying. New Orleans is the epicenter of a lot of this wonder, but the whole state is a cultural smorgasbord.
So when the option to review a book set in a swamp town in Louisiana came up, obviously it was a chance I had to take. It’s one of my favorite settings to read and I don’t think I’ve liked a book set here less than 3 stars. Beware the Wild was no different. The setting was atmospheric and immersive, and gosh this book was a whole lot of fun.
Sterling’s brother disappears into the local swamp after he and his sister get into a major fight about his leaving to go away for college. Phin’s family forgets he ever existed, but Sterling still remembers and she can’t figure out why they don’t remember him. Then a girl comes out of the swamp and takes Phin’s place. Her name’s Lenora May, and she implants herself into the town’s memories like she has always been there. Sterling thinks she is going crazy because she is the only one that remembers her brother. And then she meets a boy named Heath who shows her that she is not alone. He, too, has lost a friend to the swamp. What is going on in that swamp? And what will happen when Sterling goes into the swamp to find out? And why are all the townspeople so secretive about the goings on that happen there? It’s as if they don’t know how dangerous the swamp is at all!
This book was the perfect book to read for Halloween, full stop. I wish I had a dozen more like it. Though I never really connected with the characters like I would have liked to (again, there was too much telling of emotions rather than showing me), I kind if didn’t give a shit. The storytelling was excellent and that is all that mattered to me. I know some people read for characters, and if you are that person, you probably won’t like this. But if you like creepy settings, magical fruit, gator boys (and girls), and creepy stories from a small town, I think you will probably like this. Sometimes the writing is as foggy as the swamp–what I mean by this is that sometimes it lakes clarity. There were a few times where I was just confused, but since it’s a fairly simple story, I was able to pick up what I missed pretty quickly.
But then again, I like weird books. So though I understand why it didn’t work for others, it worked for me. With a bittersweet ending, it really hit all the right notes for me. I’ve been reading a lot of decent books lately and I hope my streak continues because I am starting to come out of my reading slump. Yay!