Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker is a spooky tale set in the swamplands of the south and full of a diverse array of characters to boot. Even if you’re a bit of a scaredy cat like myself, you just have to get through the first half and it becomes much safer to read Beware the Wild before bed ;-). While in the end Beware the Wild didn’t finish as strong as it started, fans of gothic and southern tales, as well as standalones, won’t want to miss out.
Note: I received an advanced copy of Beware the Wild from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
Published by HarperTeen on Oct. 21st, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 336 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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It's an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp -- the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn't return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.
Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp's done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance -- and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.
- The setting of Beware the Wild is definitely one of its biggest draws. Sterling lives just on the edge of a swamp full of gators and possibly much more. Since all of Beware the Wild takes place near the swamp, you don’t have to worry about missing out on this awesome setting potential.
- I’m a fan of magic that is different than the typical and Beware the Wild had a whole lot of swamp magic that added to the gothic effect! There are shiny things in the swamp and you should not follow them in! D:
- Confession: I’m a HUGE scaredy-cat, so when Beware the Wild opened with a whole lot of spookiness, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to hang in there. It turned out to have just the right level of spookiness though, where I was glued to the pages, but didn’t get nightmares, whew!
- I read the entire first half in one sitting partially because I needed to get to a non-spooky part so that I could sleep, but also because Beware the Wild starts out down right addictive! The writing was fast and things were happening and needed to be figured out right from the beginning.
- I really loved the range of characters included in Beware the Wild. Sterling is clearly struggling with an eating disorder, one of her best friends is a lesbian, and the other is proud of her healthy sex drive as well as the captain of the volleyball team. These girls felt real and like people I wish I’d known in high school!
- There were a couple of plot twists that were probably supposed to be shocking, but I picked up on the foreshadowing very early on and wasn’t surprised in the least. I was actually having those moments of wanting to yell at the characters to figure out what I already had.
- The tension of Beware the Wild waned significantly in the second half for me. Things get sorted out in a lot of ways and it is just an adventure planning sort of storyline, which paled in comparison to creepy swamp eating people in the first half. Everything just ended up feeling like an amalgamation of plots from other well-known stories without anything very fresh to add.
- The ending of Beware the Wild was similarly predictable, to the point where I could include GIFs from movies if I was okay with spoiling it, but I’m not ;-).
Beware the Wild holds to its promise of spooky and atmospheric fairly well, though things slowed down in the second half. The swamp is used in wonderful ways to bring new magic to the genre and I suspect that fans of southern gothic will adore the setting more than I did. It is great to finally see diverse and strong female characters in YA though and I’m very excited to see what Parker comes up with next!
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.