Author: Kat Falls
Publisher: Scholastic, 384 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
In a world ravaged by mutation, a teenage girl must travel into the forbidden Savage Zone to recover lost artifacts or her father’s life is forfeit.
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 book hooked me from the very beginning. The world-building is fantastic and it actually felt realistic with the science/medicine aspect of it. Lane has led a very sheltered life so when she has to go over the wall to save a loved one, she's in for a rude awakening. She's likable and relatable and some people may have a problem with her being so naive and somewhat helpless, but that was realistic given she's just a sixteen year old girl whose lived with all of the creature comforts. Basically, she's normal.
I loved the way the story unfolded with Lane going on a journey exploring the other half of the country and learning what's really been going on all her life. Plenty of action and twists and turns.
Of course there's a love triangle, but this one is actually a true one. What I mean by that is that usually you have the clear love interest and then you have the other guy. He's there to keep the couple apart, to cause trouble, or for absolutely no reason at all. Although some people may be rooting for him, you know the girl will not end up with him. Here, I actually don't know who I would choose for Lane and I don't know who Lane is going to choose. Rafe is rough and a bit jerky, but there's just something about him. And then there's Everson. Loved him. Strong and caring, just a good guy. I don't think there's a clear winner at this point. And what happens to Rafe...could see it coming a bit but didn't make it any less devastating. And what he says to Lane, about lying...my heart broke for him.
So, even though there's the dreaded love triangle, I didn't mind it. And the author actually has a sense of humor about it.
"Not that I care what you do," Rafe went on as he lazed against the counter. "You being who you are, I have taken myself out of this triangle."
"Come on. One girl, two guys. Oh, he's so smart and strong," Rafe said in a falsetto while pressing his clasped hands to his cheek. "But he's so hot. Anguish, anguish."
I crossed my arms. "And which one of those is you?"
"Yeah, you're right. I fit both."
To sum up, well-fleshed out characters, unique and interesting world-building, fast-paced adventure. I really enjoyed it.
Posted by: Pam