From James DeMonaco, the writer/director of The Purge film franchise, comes the provocative and terrifying last stand of a lone outpost of women in the wake of a deadly pandemic.
Allie Hilts was still in high school when a fire at a top-secret research facility released an air-borne pathogen that quickly spread to every male on the planet, killing most. Allie witnessed every man she ever knew be consumed by fearsome symptoms: scorching fevers and internal bleeding, madness and uncontrollable violence. The world crumbled around her. No man was spared, and the few survivors were irrevocably changed. They became disturbingly strong, aggressive, and ferocious. Feral.
Three years later, Allie has joined a group of hardened survivors in an isolated, walled-in encampment. Outside the guarded walls the ferals roam free, and hunt. Allie has been noticing troubling patterns in the ferals’ movements, and a disturbing number of new faces in the wild. Something catastrophic is brewing on the horizon, and time is running out. The ferals are coming, and there is no stopping them.
With Feral, writer/director James DeMonaco and acclaimed novelist Brian Evenson have created a challenging and entertaining novel of timely horror and exhilarating suspense.”
This book has me so conflicted! The first half of the book had me desperate to love the entire thing, but it derailed.
The good points:
This book is so easy to read, despite some weird tense switching as chapters are told from perspectives of different characters.
It’s easy to totally immerse yourself in the horror of what’s going on, especially when all of the men are struck down by an airborne virus which either kills them or turns them into adrenaline fuelled monsters (think 28 days later). As women are unaffected by the disease, they have to start banding together for their own safety and, where possible, work on a cure.
So far, so brilliant!
Allie, the main character, is 16 when the story starts and she witnesses the end of the world. 3 years on and she has perfected her hunting skills and is the main scout for her settlement – she’s a strong, capable protagonist until about halfway through.
The bad points (and SPOILERS):
She meets a man. An uninfected and remotely attractive man. BAM! Instaromance.
Suddenly she loses all ability to fight, make rational decisions and keep her settlement safe – not only her, but all of the women who have had the fortitude to survive the end of the world as we know it and stay safe for THREE YEARS, suddenly forget how to differentiate between their arses and their elbows and need a man to save them.
Yep, only the last healthy man on the planet can save a whole civilisation of women.
This story started off so strong and then spiralled down as soon as Allie meets the new love of her life. I felt so cheated as soon as the story took a turn in this direction – it felt like it was all set to be a book about women handling themselves like heroes, creating a cure and restoring order to the planet. It felt like the authors had to make a special effort to make it go this way rather than let it take its natural course.
So yeah, mixed feelings – if they could just go back and rewrite the ending of this novel to represent women as they actually are, it would be a strong contender for my book of the year! As it stands… I feel cheated.