Goodreads Rating: 4.07
In a world ravaged by mutation, a teenage girl must travel into the forbidden Savage Zone to recover lost artifacts or her father’s life is forfeit.
America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. Even the plantlife has gone feral.
Crossing from west to east is supposed to be forbidden, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some enter the Savage Zone to provide humanitarian relief. Sixteen-year-old Lane’s father goes there to retrieve lost artifacts—he is a Fetch. It’s a dangerous life, but rewarding—until he’s caught.
Desperate to save her father, Lane agrees to complete his latest job. That means leaving behind her life of comfort and risking life and limb—and her very DNA—in the Savage Zone. But she’s not alone. In order to complete her objective, Lane strikes a deal with handsome, roguish Rafe. In exchange for his help as a guide, Lane is supposed to sneak him back west. But though Rafe doesn’t exhibit any signs of “manimal” mutation, he’s hardly civilized . . . and he may not be trustworthy.
First of all, let me say that I am sad at some of the discrepancies that are around this book. To this, I want to say please do not let reviews sway you from reading a book. If the book sounds interesting to you, read it and make your own opinions. I looked at some reviews for this book while I was reading it, seeing if people were having the same reaction as I was and was sadly disappointed to see how many people disliked the book and even more sad to find that people weren't even starting the book because of some peoples' bad reviews. Many people who disliked it only read to page 3.... To those of your who are seeing these reviews, I implore you to please give it a shot! The rest of the book is so much better than those three pages. So strap yourselves in because there is just so much to say about this book! I'll be giving my impressions of the book, as well as addressing some clear misconceptions that I have seen other reviewers address.
Now, I was very excited to start this book because, if you are like me, who doesn't love a perfectly good post-apocalyptic world that's plagued by a deadly virus. It's been about 18 years since the virus had ravaged the world, forcing what was left of the United States behind a gigantic wall. We meet our main protagonist, Delaney (Laney) behind this wall and see how her life turns upside-down in a matter of a few hours. To me (and once again, after those supposedly dreaded 3 pages) the books picks up on the drama pretty quick. Laney is thrust from her cozy, shut-away world to go look for her father, who is what they call a fetch (someone who travels beyond the wall, breaking the quarantine, to go get things people left behind, for a hefty fee), in the terrors beyond the wall where she uses the bed-time stories her father used to tell her to guide her through the treacherous wilderness.
Here she meets Everson, a strong, serious and stern military man at a base outside the wall, and Rafe, a snarky wild boy who has survived in the wilderness for many years. Now, I absolutely 100% LOVE this budding love triangle. I'm talking I want pins made that say Team Everson or Team Rafe (personally I am all Team Rafe). I loved traveling with this group and watching all three of them grow in different ways. Everson learning to reach out, Rafe learning to put others first, and Laney, for lack of better words, manning up. One complaint I saw in the slew of reviews is that people hated how "stupid" or idiotic Delaney was, to which I respond.... DUH! She's lived behind a sheltered wall that has pretty much turned her and everyone else into germaphobic freaks her whole life! And this is why the character development ROCKS in my opinion, and not just for Delaney.
Now some other reviews, in addition to the "stupid" characters bit, some say how they hate how Rafe is so rude and is an "uber-douche", to which I respond again... DUH! That's part of his character flaw and what makes following him on his own personal journey so amazing! Many of these people who DNF the book after stating something along these lines, I pity them because they will not get to know the amazing person he really is (yeah, like I said, I'm Team Rafe all the way). If you read the book to the end, you will really see the beauty in the beast :)
This dystopian book kind of mixes with sci-fi where you get different mutations of the virus that starts turning people into "manimals". This is actually kind of a cool thought :) Definitely didn't hate it! This led to a BUNCH of action, surprise and suspense throughout the book that just made me gasping and shouting in disbelief as well as crying. I am even happy to say that the love triangle between Delaney, Rafe and Everson didn't take away from all this serious action at all.
I can see where some people think the world setup a little confusing but only if you really try to analyze the workings of it. There are some unanswered questions that even I have but I'm pleasantly optimistic and hope that they will all be answered in the next book. These questions include "If the world is devastated by a virus, why is only 1 scientist working on finding the cure, and this doctor can't even go outside to get samples." To which I say, maybe he isn't the only one, and if he is, why would they risk the one doctor they have that is trying to find said cure, or maybe he is the only one who believes there is a cure(I mean they did say this virus wiped out the majority of the population, and they have pretty much written off the whole East coast of America... maybe he is the only one who can do it). Overall, these questions that confused some people shouldn't take away from the good in this book. Honestly, what world doesn't have flaws? Don't try to over analyze. Go with the flow and enjoy the ride :)
Now I have talked about people putting down the book after 3 pages... This isn't just a random page number. There is an analogy on page 3 that has gotten everyone up in a frenzy and in extreme cases, causes people to put down this book without giving it a chance. The author states this:
"When the wall went up eighteen years ago, that part of the country became as mysterious to us as Africa was to the rest of the world in the nineteenth century. The Feral Zone was our Dark Continent."
Go ahead and think for a second. Is the author trying to be racist? OR is she trying to convey that the East is a lost land as foreign to them as Africa was in the 1800s. No one had explored it, just like no one had gone to the East in the book. Could she have used a better analogy... I don't know but she left it in for a reason and probably didn't think people would be so sensitive to it. Africa is a mystery to many people and yes... it is called the Dark Continent. Not to be "racist" but because it was a mystery. I'll say that just because the author mentions Africa to describe a place that is largely unexplored in their present day, doesn't make her racist. This is my opinion and make your own decisions but think for a moment... are you going to let 2 insignificant sentences determine the fate of a whole book?
To sum up, the book is chuck full of adventure and action (and for you romancey types, there is some romantic tension) with lovable characters that you will love traveling with and seeing them grow throughout the book. The book may leave you with some questions but the best we can hope for is to get answers in the next book. There may be some drawbacks to this book but, to me, it didn't take away from me devouring this book (pun intended). Happy Reading!
The Court's Decision: