Review: The Wildlands by Abby Geni

Alexis: Read 1/4/19

I’m not too fond of prologues, but I found the prologue of The Wildlands to be the perfect introduction to the book. It describes, in detail, Cora’s first memory: the category 5 tornado which destroyed her childhood home and left her, and her siblings, an orphan. I loved Geni’s descriptions from the start. When Cora looks outside before the tornado strikes, the sky has turned green: “…I glanced out the window and saw the Oklahoma sky soaked with a new color. Damp jade. Split pea soup. Moss on stone.”

I was involved in each character’s storyline, especially Cora and Darlene’s, but also Roy’s and even Tucker’s, despite his violence. Geni captures emotions well, whether through her character descriptions or the descriptions of the harsh and barren Oklahoma landscape. She paints a picture of loss, poverty, and family. Many scenes in this book are vividly dark and disturbing, and Geni does a good job of showing how they affect Cora both psychologically and physically. Geni’s writing style mimics the sense of loss that follows the characters throughout the book. Despite the plot, The Wildlands is more of a character-driven story.

Cora’s relationship with her sisters feels raw, real, and appropriate for a nine-year-old. Her relationship with Tucker, however, is borderline obsessive. I couldn’t blame Cora for this, considering her painful childhood, but it was still disturbing at times.

I’m an animal lover, and I found Tucker’s theories about animals and mass extinction interesting yet terrifying. Seeing his thought process was an interesting insight in how someone’s interests can turn into a dangerous and radical obsession. The scenes with the animals towards the end of the book are surreal and poetic.

I understand why Geni includes the epilogue, but I felt like it was unnecessary. The book ended on the right note, but the epilogue drew away from it.

All in all, this was a well-written and thought-provoking read.

VERDICT: 4 and ½ out of 5 books

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