Published by Katherine Tegen (3.3.2020)
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller, Young Adult
Format: eBook, 240 pages
The world is not tame.
Ashley knows this truth deep in her bones, more at home with trees overhead than a roof. So when she goes hiking in the Smokies with her friends for a night of partying, the falling dark and creaking trees are second nature to her. But people are not tame either. And when Ashley catches her boyfriend with another girl, drunken rage sends her running into the night, stopped only by a nasty fall into a ravine. Morning brings the realization that she's alone - and far off trail. Lost in undisturbed forest and with nothing but the clothes on her back, Ashley must figure out how to survive despite the red streak of infection creeping up her leg.
The world is not tame.
I needed this SO BAD when I picked it up, without even realizing it. Let’s face it, the world sucks right now and shit is rough. This book’s “appreciate what you have because one day you may not have it” message was something I desperately needed right now. Not to mention I’ve been in a horrible reading slump since everything started happening, and with my own personal issues added on top of it all, I haven’t been able to focus on anything or just plain enjoy a book lately. Until this gem. I positively devoured this book, finishing it in a matter of a few hours, in one single sitting (it’s only 240 pages, so quick & easy read). I didn’t care about it much in the beginning, but from the moment Ashley gets lost in the woods it is NON STOP! And it is so engrossing!
“Be not far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.”
It’s kind of scary, really, just how easily a simple mistake can turn into a dire, life-or-death situation. The cause of the scenario was perhaps stupid and ridiculous in hindsight – View Spoiler »I mean, she runs off drunk and emotional after finding her boyfriend cheating into the woods? Not smart, but she was super drunk, so it was just an awful accident made in a moment of irrational (drunk) impulse. Could happen to anyone. « Hide Spoiler – but it just goes to show that’s all it takes. One moment of irrationality and suddenly you’re in a dire situation.
I loved Ashley!! I really related to her – at one point she says she’d rather pass out four or five times on the way back to the campsite (from her injury) than yell for help and admit she needs help. Some readers may have found that ridiculous, but I personally was grinning to myself because THAT IS SO. ME. I am that person that refuses to ask for help even when I know I probably need it. Also because at one point she says she ‘didn’t like many people and found less worth talking to.’ I FEEL YOU, GIRL. She’s a survival badass – she grew up learning the woods and was taught how to survive in them – but she’s not invincible. I loved that she was rational and kept a level head when things looked really bad, and made the most of the situation she was in; but she wasn’t completely impervious to it. She still had the appropriate amount of emotion, and had a few breakdowns along the way. Who wouldn’t?! But she never gave up. Her sheer determination and perseverance was inspiring! Her characterization was absolutely fantastic.
This might be one fucked up 5K – and a hell of a lot longer – but the idea is the same. You aim for the finish line: that’s your goal. But beyond that, you get to go home, and you only get to do that if you’re moving.
It felt SO real, too! It was like it actually happened because it was completely believable. (Except just one thing that bothered me – View Spoiler »she cut off half her foot because the open wound was infected, creating another open wound??? Wouldn’t you need to cauterize it to prevent another spread of infection? Wouldn’t she just be right back at square one?! That made no sense to me, but okay… « Hide Spoiler) But other than that, it felt very real. It was 100% bone chilling to think about being in that situation, honestly. Would I survive? I don’t even know, and reading this made me want to take a survival class! I’ve seen people make fire by rubbing sticks together in the movies, but I honestly don’t think I could ever make it work. I don’t know how to make a snare, or hunt, or anything. NOW I WANT TO LEARN.
Some of the descriptions in this book were visceral. When she first gets injured and falls on her injured foot with it tied up? I legit cringed because I couldn’t even imagine the sheer pain of it. My skin crawled just thinking about it! View Spoiler »And having to CUT OFF half of your own foot?! NOPE. « Hide Spoiler There are a few gruesome scenes – it’s a survival situation, of course she’s going to have to do gross things to survive. Most of it I could see doing if I was desperate, so eating worms and live fish (and throwing it back up still squirming) didn’t get to me much. HOWEVER. When she found a tick on her skin, swollen with blood to the size of a bean, and ATE IT?! I feel bile rising just typing that. I LEGIT GAGGED. I have this weird thing about ticks, they just gross me the fuck out – to the point that it’s worse than spiders even and I have arachnophobia, okay? I just CAN’T. I almost threw up when she was describing it!! As a dog groomer I find ticks on dogs frequently, and it’s something that I just can never not freak out about. View Spoiler »I also want to say that the opossum scene BROKE MY HEART. The momma possum stayed to face Ashley, knowing she’d probably die, because she’d rather die than leave her babies behind. Poor mama. Poor lil babies. « Hide Spoiler
Living things will fight to stay that way.
Being in a survival situation puts things into perspective. I love how Ashley corrected herself when she thought “I’m starving, I’m freezing” – she backpedaled and said No, I’m not actually freezing or starving. I can still feel pain, and that means I’m alive. There was a lot of self reflection on her part – things she’s done, things she regrets doing or not doing. I love the message this book has – don’t take anything for granted, because one day you may not have it. Appreciate the things you do have. It makes you want to hug your loved ones and tell them that you love them! View Spoiler »When she comes home she mentions that she’s ‘not ashamed of the overgrown yard or the ripped trampoline, the cinder-block steps and the rusted spots in the metal siding.’ That maybe once she would have been, but not after she found out what it’s like to go without it. « Hide Spoiler That’s some fucking perspective, man. And I needed that right now.
Writing style: 4.5/5
Overall rating: 4.5/5