Publication Date: October 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
ISBN-10: 0062241524 (HarperTeen)
ISBN-13: 978-0062241528 (HarperTeen)
Reviewed by: Kaitlin
Southern Gothic gets a whole new twist in this debut novel, sure to appeal to fans of the New York Times bestselling Beautiful Creatures series.The swamp in Sterling’s small Louisiana town proves to have a power over its inhabitants when her brother disappears and no one but Sterling even remembers that he existed. Now Sterling, with the help of brooding loner Heath, who’s had his own creepy experience with the swamp, must fight back and reclaim what—and who—the swamp has taken.Beware the Wild is a riveting and atmospheric page-turner readers won’t want to miss.
Quick & Dirty: Beware the Wild was a richly imaginative story set in a swamp. The character development was strong and I enjoyed the originality of the plotline.
Opening Sentence: It’s no secret, ours is the meanest swamp in Louisiana.
In Beware the Wild Sterling’s brother, Phin, runs into the swamp after a fight. This is not your average swamp, however. It has all the dangers of a normal one — alligators, dangerous bugs, deep muggy waters, the possibility of being lost — along with the extra perk of magic, and a dangerous force connected to it is calling the shots. When suddenly everyone seems to be convinced that Lenora May, a girl Sterling hasn’t seen before in her life, is her sister, Sterling is determined to get back Phin.
The main character, Sterling, has some issues with trust. That’s just to be expected considering her father beat his family when consumed in his alcoholic rages. But her brother has always been there for her. He’s helped her through the darkest times. So when he disappears, she is extremely motivated to get him back. Her love for Phin carries her through the book and I especially love the way that she’d have flashbacks to certain memories that really got across their bond. I also loved how she learned strength from her problems and developed across the span of the pages. Her view on Phin made me despise Lenora May, at first, but as Sterling warmed to her so did I. It becomes clear how much she hated taking Phin’s spot, but how much she is relishing leading a normal life after being trapped in the swamp for generations. Sterling’s struggle in trying not to let her focus waiver in getting back Phin is admirable and sweet. I felt for Sterling and connected especially with her, Phin, and Lenora May.
Unfortunately the same connection did not last through to Sterling’s love interest, Heath. Supposedly Heath and Sterling have history back in the years before. However, it did not shine through in any flashbacks or other ways as it did for Phin. I really wish that it had because for Phin it helped me connect — even without actually getting to see the character much in the novel. And for Heath I could have used the extra connection. As it was, Heath just irritated me. He is accepted by Sterling as an ally way to quickly and their relationship feels very rushed. I wish I could have had some more cutesy fluff conversation rather than all deep ones before their eventual getting together. Actually, I shouldn’t say eventual, because it did not take very long.
Lastly, I should discuss the setting. The whole idea of the swamp is very unique and cool. I wish the authors writing style was slightly more creepy and original like the setting so the two could match better, but it wasn’t much of a problem. The magical aspects of said swamp are fun and intriguing. I especially liked how Sterling’s bracelet helped to protect her and how the bracelet has it’s own little backstory that is revealed at the end.
Altogether, I enjoyed Beware the Wild. It was interesting enough to draw me in and keep me invested. Even though there was some slight confusion and a few noticeable plot holes, in the end they were overridden by the plot and setting. The writing style was simple but I had no problems with it, the swamp was mysterious and eerie… The one thing I didn’t appreciate was the love interest. Heath flat out made me annoyed. The pacing was good although I might have added some less deep, more fluffy conversations to add light moments to a mostly dark story. Sterling was relatable. To conclude, Beware the Wild was pleasing and rich. There are things I could have changed that knocked two stars off, but for anyone who enjoys a mysterious, eerie tone in a book will not be dissapointed.
“What are you waiting for?” she asks again. Her irritation is split evenly between me and the girl I’ve never seen before in my life.
“What?” I ask.
“Sterling.” Mama points her spoon in warning. “Don’t start tonight. You and your sister, pull that cotton from your ears, for Pete’s sake, and come in for dinner.”
“My what?” I ask, but she’s already gone. The screen door slaps three times behind her.
FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Beware the Wild. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.