Jess hasn’t seen her off-the-grid dad in over a decade. But after a car crash kills her mother and leaves Jess injured, she’s forced to live with him in the remote Canadian wilderness.
But when her dad’s past pays a visit, Jess is left stranded with a burned cabin and a murdered father.She knows if she doesn’t act fast, the cold will kill her before she has time to worry about food. But she is still alive—for now.
With only her father’s dog for company, Jess must survive and find food, shelter, and warmth without help. Some days it feels like the wild is out to destroy her, but she knows she has to survive. Jess knows who killed her father, and she can’t die until she gets her revenge.
These reviews are the hardest to write.
Positive reviews are just a lot of gushing. Negative reviews are just a lot of nitpicking. But smack dab in the middle 3 star reviews? Oooh, these are so hard.
There are pros and cons to this book, and in the end, it kind of felt like the pros and cons balanced each other out and made a very solid 3. Imagine it being red as the cons and green as the pros and this book is that brown you get when you mix red and green. Meh.
This book was so damn entertaining. Survivalist stories almost always are, if you take out the boring things and make enough random animals attack you and make the character do stupid things.
Kate Marshall did a really good job of making the survivalist part entertaining, and I didn’t feel like she did anything too stupid when talking about survival (except for one instance which I’ll talk about later). Most of her actions were pretty decent, and you could tell how Marshall wrote about Jess’ emotions clouding her judgement and making her do not so smart things.
I was definitely entertained, proven by the fact that I read this over the course of two and a half hours in one sitting. Just me, in bed, cuddled in my blanket (to ward off the fictional cold, of course) frantically tapping my phone to read the next page.
I thought the pacing was definitely a highlight of this book because it kept me engaged and hooked into the novel. Likewise, this is one of those circumstances where I felt like the before and after structure was a good narrative choice. It made the suspense bigger, and wasn’t like a cop out in skipping the intense scenes. I think the background “how she got to the middle-of-nowhere Canada” was important and the now “survival” story was important too, and this was a good choice to blend the two.
But, there were a considerable amount of downsides.
I mean, first of all, the before & after plot structure didn’t have a lot of plot. She didn’t really grow as a character (she literally chose the worst way to escape–through revenge, not character growth) so it’s not really a character-based plot (if it is, yikes). And there’s almost half the story which is background on her coming to Canada and disliking her dad and getting in a car crash, while the other half is her trying to survive and work out a whacked revenge scheme.
It just felt like the overarching storyline didn’t have a lot to it. Survivalist stories usually don’t. Although it’s certainly entertaining, I feel like there’s still a lot left to be desired in terms of actual plot rather than entertaining scenes.
Also, the entire book could have not happened if the MC actually did something right. Like, oh my god. This is kind of a spoiler, but it’s so outlandish and in the first 100 pages that people deserve to know. A guy arrives in a plane and sees the burned down house and the main character, who is stranded in the boonies with basically nothing, SHE DOESN’T CALL OUT TO HIM because she’s scared he’s one of the bad guys.
Well, guess what? The bad guys have guns. Did this guy have a gun? Not that I know about. Did this guy have sidekicks? Not that I know about. It was a single dude in a plane, and she was standing at the edge of the woods, intentionally letting her chance of escape slip through her fingertips because he could have been a bad guy.
I wanted to throw my phone across the room, because this is so frustrating. Look. I get that she’s scared, but if you’re scared of what “might happen,” you might as well never leave your house. Or maybe it’s time to build a bunker.
This felt like such a frustrating move on her part, and it spoiled a lot of the book for me because you know that the after wouldn’t really have happened if she just! called! out!
Though overall, this did end up being a pretty entertaining read. If you’re a hardcore survivalist fiction fan and you’re willing to overlook said mishaps, then I’d recommend this to you. But, if you’re as frustrated as I am about that decision, then this book probably isn’t worth your time.
Thank you so much to First to Read and Penguin for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!
What survivalist stories have you read? Which would you recommend?