Thursday, July 3, 2014

Review: Wild by Alex Mallory

Thursday, July 3, 2014 with 6 comments
Title: Wild
Author: Alex Mallory
Series: n/a
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Source: from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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The forest is full of secrets, and no one understands that better than Cade. Foraging, hunting, surviving— that’s all he knows. Alone for years, Cade believes he’s the sole survivor. At least, until he catches a glimpse of a beautiful stranger…

Dara expected to find natural wonders when she set off for a spring break camping trip. Instead, she discovers a primitive boy— he’s stealthy and handsome and he might be following her. Intrigued, Dara seeks him out and sets a catastrophe in motion.

Thrust back into society, Cade struggles with the realization that the life he knew was a lie. But he’s not the only one. Trying to explain life in a normal town leaves Dara questioning it.

As the media swarm and the police close in, Dara and Cade risk everything to get closer. But will the truth about Cade’s past tear them apart?

A YA Tarzan retelling.

I've pretty much loved all of the historical fiction novels I've read of Saundra Mitchell's, so when I heard she was writing a YA retelling of Tarzan under a pen name, I immediately added the book to my wishlist. I wasn't disappointed. The tone and voice of this novel were so different from her other books that it was as if she was a different author completely...but not at the detriment to this novel. In this case, different is very good. I appreciated the liberties the author took with the original story but I also liked that she stayed relatively true to it in its most basic form.

an approximation of Cade =D
If I had to describe this novel as simply as possible, I'd have to say that it was a blending of the Disney version of Tarzan and Crocodile Dundee. I normally hate making comparisons like that, but for this book, it just feels apt. Because when we meet Cade, he is wild...not completely uncivilized but definitely unused to human companionship. Cade's parents made sure he was educated, that he could read and write, but because they believed the world as they knew it had ended, they didn't teach him the ways of the world. So when he ends up in polite society, it's a bit like Mick walking around NYC, clad in his safari gear and completely perplexed by all the technology surrounding him. Dara and other concerned citizens, even those who find his tragic story implausible, try to acclimate him to city life. But after nearly two decades of living in the wilderness, integration into our world doesn't seem all that possible.

Still, Cade is curious. His folks told him of the many conveniences the world has to offer, the technologies that had been available when they bailed on the rest of the world in favor of survival. But he's never seen them until now. Dara is curious, too, about this boy who claims to know little of the luxuries she's taken for granted her whole life. As they discover more about each other, there are romantic sparks, but it never felt as if their relationship was in any way the antithesis to discovering the mystery of who Cade really was and how he came to be in that forest in the first place.

The relationships in this novel were so genuine and believable. So even though Dara actually had a boyfriend, I wasn't bothered by what was developing between her and Cade because before she even met him in those woods, she was already questioning her relationship with Josh. They would be graduating in mere months, heading off to different colleges in the fall, and it was obvious that they'd outgrown each other. Josh was the one holding on to something that was already gone. I swore he and Cade would end up in fisticuffs, or that at least one of them would resort to belting out that famous Tarzan yell to claim Dara as their woman, but both behaved admirably. For the most part. ;0) Cade saw Dara, saw who she was and what she was about, and Dara was able to do that for Cade, as well. Their mutual attraction and the feelings that developed were actually quite sweet and well-deserved. There was respect and longing and passion there that had been missing in her relationship with Josh for some time.

Dara also takes care with her other relationships. Just as she didn't rush into anything with Cade -- or out of anything with Josh -- she doesn't take her devotion to her family or her friends lightly. Her father is the sheriff in charge of the investigation into Cade's disappearance from society at large and subsequent appearance in their small town. Dara loves and respects Sheriff Porter, but she also wants him to trust her. Neither wants this case to come between them. And even though Dara's younger sister was a rather large nuisance to the situation for much of the novel, Dara is still there when Lia needs her most. Just as Sophia, Dara's best friend, is always there when Dara is in need. The brother-sister bond that developed between Cade and Sophia might have actually been my favorite relationship of the whole book, though, because it showed just how much Cade's presence had changed things, even so much as to point out how one's perspective can be completely altered if they can keep an open mind.

And Cade adjusting to our world definitely requires a shift in perspective. Though, I will admit that maybe a little too much time was spent exploring this aspect, as well as showing him in his natural habitat. I think I was nearly to the halfway point before anything actually happened, though when it did, it sent the lives of all involved into a tailspin. But what the story lacked in action, it made up for in heart. These were characters I could truly empathize with, who I wanted to see triumph, even if it wasn't in the way I had imagined for them.

There are beautiful moments between the characters and whimsical ones, and it was all just so honest and real, true to the way that normal people would react to a situation such as this. And the way it was told was honest, too. You never had to wonder how any one character felt because in a matter of seconds, the author was telling you. You're in and out of characters thoughts, quick as a flash, but the transitions are seamless. As was the open-ended conclusion to the story, if you can believe that. Even knowing that there's not another book planned to follow this one, I'm okay with where the author left Cade and Dara's story. She handled it brilliantly, and I don't think I would have wanted more. I do wish I hadn't spent the last thirty pages or so panicking for fear of no resolution, though. o_O

Wild was a strong retelling with a unique twist on the original story, one that's felt throughout the novel and explored intimately. If you want to read a strongly developed novel that focuses on the characters and their stories more fully than the accompanying romance, I'd definitely recommend Wild to you. Also, if you're a fan of hot guys with dreads who have decent manners despite their particularly wild upbringing, you'd probably enjoy this book. :D

GIF it to me straight:
Okay, so it's emotional and beautiful, too, but I couldn't resist. ;)

About the author:

Alex Mallory is a pen name for YA author Saundra Mitchell. She’s a big fan of reading, history, camping and competitive M&M sorting.

Find Alex:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads


  1. Ohhhh give it to me. I NEED THIS BOOK ASAP. I really like the idea of a wild dude with dreads and MANNERS. (Gee, manners can be such a rarity anyway, that I'm always impressed with them. ;)

    1. Me,'re pretty hard-pressed to find a guy who's gentle, kind, and sweet these days, even in fiction, lol. This one was different, Cait, but I liked it. I liked it a lot. :)

  2. I'm not sure about this one, Tarzan isn't my favorite Disney movie...
    The fact that he must not shower always grossed me out :) I haven't seen many reviews on this one but happy to see you liked it!

    1. Admittedly, Tarzan isn't my favorite Disney movie either, not even in the contenders, but I do like the idea of a primitive person trying to come to terms with all of our convenience and technology. And I'm sure he still bathed, lol. I haven't seen a lot of promotion, etc., for this title either, but I'm glad I gave it a chance.

  3. Hrm...interesting. I've not heard much about this book but since you gave it 4 stars I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy it. Great review :-)

    1. It was...maybe not what I expected but still good. :) It's not getting much attention, though, that's for sure.


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