Author: Kat Falls
Series: Fetch #1
Genre: Teen Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars
The Overview: 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.
This is one of those books where reading the overview doesn’t fully prepare you for what’s in store. It started out business as usual, but eventually took on an odd Alice in Wonderland feel that still managed to remain entirely dystopian. I wasn’t displeased with the somewhat disconcerting direction of the story, but it definitely threw me for a loop!
It does take a while for the plot to get weird, which is a good thing because it allowed me to fully appreciate how good the writing was. Falls kept the nature of the feral zone a complete mystery at first, which perked my curiosity and left me all the more eager to discover what was on the other side. It got me involved, in a way, and was part of the reason why I had a difficult time putting it down. I also really enjoyed the characters, specifically the two male leads – more so then even the female protagonist. There was some mystery shrouding each one and I was curious to see how their stories would unfold.
For the most part, Falls did a good job backing up her concepts with science – it helped give reason to and otherwise ridiculous world. On occasion, however, she would sacrifice feasibility in favor of creativity – a choice that I didn’t fully appreciate. It gave the story a creepy yet whimsical feel, but would have been stronger with just the creepy element. For example, she tweaked the rules of the science (as far as I understood it) so she could introduce piranha bats and chimpanzee moles. It was really far-fetched, even within the realms of her explanations. I feel like virus-infected man-eating bats and burrowing chimpanzees would have been just as scary – perhaps more because it’s more believable than chimpanzees sporadically breeding with moles… Just saying.
Overall, this is a dystopian I won’t likely forget. I’m not usually a fan of whimsical or far-fetched concepts, but I didn’t mind those elements here. I loved her writing enough to pick up the next book because, despite the hesitance I feel about the story concept, I earnestly could not put it down.
Recommended Reading: for dystopian fans who are sick of the same old stuff. Also, for fans of Alice in Wonderland whimsy who want to see it taken in a totally new direction!
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