First lemme give you an idea of how I’m going to rate The Wild, by K. Webster.
***** For having balls the size of Texas for even considering writing this
*** For plot (see review below)
**** Writing style
*** Character development
Before you read any further, this review is more of an OP Ed. It contains SPOILERS and my feelings about this book. I delve into every aspect, from the writing style to the plot, characters and yes, the taboo. I’m not trying to hurt the author’s feelings, because regardless of this book, I’d definitely read other books by her, and I’ll explain why later.
This is my personal opinion rather than just a straight up “I give it a thumbs up/down” kind of review. If you don’t want to know what happens in this book, STOP NOW. This is my website and YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
With that being said, I’ll get into the meat of the story. As I noted above, I’m giving K. Webster 5 stars for having the cohones to even write this. But I’m not giving the book a 5 star rating. There are other factors in play for me.
Technically, I felt the book needed editing. There’s no misspelled words, missing punctuation, etc – what it needed is developmental editing because the writing seemed choppy. The sentences were a bit one note, monotonous, all the same length at times which makes for poor flow. BUT, at times the narrative was fucking brilliant, sometimes heartbreaking, savage, intense and tear-inducing. Yet, there were aspects of good writing where K. missed the mark. Several times, foreshadowing could’ve been used to hint at things to come, but it never happened.
The characters…well, that left me scratching my head a lot. When I read ANY book, small things about characters, events and places stand out to me. I pick up on loose ends and inconsistencies. For some people, these things don’t bother. For me, Reed was confusing.
He is supposed to be a multimillionaire CEO, yet, he sells it all to move out to the wilds of Alaska to save his family. We’re expected to believe his posh, spoiled wife is just going to go along with it. Since Sabrina is a woman who is described as severely depressed, the tidbit about how she gets them banned from the country club because she goes off on another parent seems contradictory. It doesn’t seem like she’d agree so easily to something like this.
So, Reed takes his family out there with no survival training for Sabrina or Pip. And as far as we know, he has no skill with building, hunting, guns, trapping, or fishing because there’s only a brief mention that he took some survival classes and chopped a bunch of wood. Yet, he goes out to Alaska and BAM – he’s a skilled mountain man. Truly, it would’ve been more believable if K. had given him a different profession. Make him a former Green Beret, and the CEO of a multi million dollar survivalist company.
Tragedy strikes right away. Now, I get that the plot NEEDS a tragedy. But come on! That accident that takes Sabrina’s life would’ve killed all three of them! That RV/trailer would have rolled, not slid down a hill gracefully. There’s a reason people who live in RV’s and trailers die in floods, tornadoes, avalanches and mudslides.
So now I’m starting to feel like this jumped the shark…
So they build themselves a shelter. The way it’s described at first, seems like it’s near the cave. But at other times, it seems like the cabin is built over the opening to the cave. But other times, Atticus can see Pip in the cave when he’s outside. I’m confused.
So for the sex stuff – it takes almost no time for Reed and Pip to get down and dirty. But honestly, it seemed more like Pip was being a little slut in front of her father, trying to tempt and seduce him. It’s only later that we find out that she was doing it all along, and that Reed was noticing and responding-to a point. This is explained by the fact that Sabrina’s depression probably pushed them together more, which is understandable, but we aren’t introduced to their lives and how they related to each other before the move to Alaska, which is after they’ve had sex several times. It leaves you with an icky feeling that lingers. For me, learning the backstory didn’t ease the discomfort.
And I might mention, the sex – there’s a lot of it. Boatloads. It seemed like having sex was used to move the story along, which is atypical. Usually it’s tragedies, obstacles, or conflicts that move the story along. So the sex at times, felt gratuitous or unnecessary. Like, ok, we get it. You’re fucking your daughter/dad. Ewww.
The rape. Okay…whatdafuk? Was that really necessary? What bothered me the most about it was that it was sort of brushed aside. Pip, who is a bit fiesty, allows Reed to go off and hunt down their attackers. No desire to go out and hunt the fuckers down with her father? HUH? But once they’re dead, that’s it. No long term effects, no hesitance to being touched or aversion to sex. No nightmares. Weird…And she goes right back to having sex with Reed, with no discussion about how it might have affected her. Damn, this 17 year old has nerves of steel!
And while I’m at it…what the hell did they do with Sabrina’s body? That’s a detail left dangling (no pun intended). But later, Reed mysteriously finds Sabrina’s wedding ring. HUH?
Atticus – what I don’t get here is how someone who seems so against incest just allows Pip to stay where she is. He seems so adamant, but “I can see you’re happy” was his excuse for not intervening.
The baby – is it really necessary to have a baby? The logistics of having a baby in the wild are outrageous, but then at the end, we find out she has not one, but three! What the hell is she doing with the diapers? Where’s she getting them in the first place? How is she getting baby food, or making it herself? There’s no damn electricity! These are people who left cushy lives in San Fran. I don’t get it!!!
So the big twist wasn’t so big for me. I figured out what the twist was before I even purchased this, simply because it’s the most logical option. However, the way the twist was handled seemed rushed–a thrown in afterthought like “oops, I can’t really make them blood related. I’d better make her adopted.” And if any of you adoptive parents feel like chiming in here – you don’t have to be a biological parent to love a child. You don’t even have to adopt, you can be a step-parent, or a foster parent and none of those roles include sex.
Foreshadowing would have worked here to build up the suspense, because how the hell can two dark haired, dark eyed people have a blonde and blue eyed baby? Oh wait…I’m not sure we ever get a full description of Sabrina! (Please stand by as I go back through the book searching.)
Nope. No description. Was that an honest oversight or done on purpose?
One more thing stood out to me when I went back to check. At kindle location 190, Reed mentions that Sabrina sleeps naked. Okay. So at location 335, (when he, Pip and Sabrina are in bed) when he slides his hand into what he thinks is his wife’s PANTIES, does that not stop him immediately? Yet, Reed keeps going and slips his finger into his daughter’s puss.
In the story, Reed admits he’s always had a dark side. It comes off as a convenient excuse that’s never explained. Most people who swing between being so loving, affectionate and protective, to wild, unhinged and brutal usually have a history of trauma early in life, so the excuse that its his wife’s miscarriages, her depression and the death of his son that affects him doesn’t do it for me. He erupts on Pip a few times, beating her mercilessly with a belt. He murders three men viciously, to the point that it grossed me out. He reiterates over and over how he’d do anything to protect Pip.
Now, I don’t have a psychology degree, but SOMETHING had to happen to Reed to make him descend to that level of paranoia, anger, protectiveness. This stuff goes beyond the usual Alpha-male antics, in my opinion, and it seems like he’s a Borderline Personality, possibly even Bi-polar, but that’s never addressed.
Overall, there are flashes of brilliance in here. The narrative is haunting, shattering and moving but the underlying taboo nature of the characters and their relationship never truly leaves your mind, so that in itself, tends to take away from what could be a great book. The characters seemed underdeveloped, the plot had loose ends and an over-the-top level of tragedy that surpassed my level of suspension of disbelief. Now, that is subjective. Every person has their own point at which they stop, sigh and roll their eyes, then DNF a book. For some, this book might be perfectly believable.
A well structured book has a rollercoaster effect. Points of high tension followed by downtime. Characters need time to breath, to reflect on their situation, make choices and move forward. Unfortunately, this book felt like nothing but tension because, when they aren’t facing a tragedy or danger, the frequent sex is a source of tension due to the nature of their relationship. It left me exhausted. And in some places, the monotonous, same length sentences make it an irritating to read.
For me, this book ends up being a 3.5 star. It’s my first book by K. Webster, and while I’m not crazy about it, I wouldn’t hesitate to try her other books. Yes, it missed the mark, but as I said, there were incredible parts to this book and she’s clearly, obviously talented.
Some of you may not agree at all and I respect that.
Many of you already know about the hype/drama surrounding this book because of the subject matter and that Amazon banned it. I’m against censorship, but think about how pervasive Amazon is in our lives. If you own a Kindle, Alexa or FireTV, as I do, it’s super easy to make a simple change that allows other family members to view your content. If you have kids – who all seem to be incredibly tech savvy these days – the chances are high they can get into something like this. So yeah, I get why Amazon banned it, or banned it after someone reported it. They are a business, and with that comes the potential for lawsuits from angry parents who’s kids are now scarred from accidentally reading The Wild. (Yes, I realize it’s parent’s responsibility to police what their kids see, so let’s not even get into that protracted debate.) Yet, I find it amusing that Amazon sells Game of Thrones – which has a clear case of incest between characters.
Incest is illegal. In all forms and, in a lot of states, that includes adoption. It boggles my mind that it doesn’t include Adoption in ALL states.
Nowadays, we have all heard of cases where siblings and even parents have been separated their entire lives, and then when they do meet, they fall in love. So why doesn’t incest happen more often? The Westermarck effect. Put simply, the Westermarck effect is a way of saying “familiarity breeds contempt.”
In other words, when closely related people live together, there is an invisible curtain that comes down, based on many factors, that conditions the psyche to avoid sexual or romantic feelings. So until we actually find a gene that stops us from having sex with our relatives, we’re at the mercy of our environment and how we are raised. Why this fails to develop in sibling incest or parent/child incest cases is unclear.
That’s why blood relatives who meet after being separated their entire lives CAN fall in love. But that’s not the case in this book.
Sexual abuse, however minor, leaves a long term effect on a person. Same thing with rape, but most of that is skimmed over and I feel it deserved a bit more attention.
Now, please understand that I do not condone incest in any way. In our country, there are movies and television shows which deal with rape – which is illegal. Murder–illegal. Child abuse–illegal. The list goes on and on. So an author writing about an illegal subject should not create such a high level of drama, because right or wrong, we accept in in most other forms. How many times have you watched Law & Order-SVU?? Rape and incest are big themes in that show!
That doesn’t mean we condone rape, abuse or incest. Most of us, if faced with knowledge of this type of situation, wouldn’t hesitate to report it. But this is FICTON. You can choose to buy this book and be titillated by it in the privacy of your home. No one needs to know. Or you can be disgusted by it, privately or openly. It’s your choice to buy it or not, because it’s a free country and that means none of us have the right to police what goes on in your head, an author’s head, in print, in an ebook, or in your home.
It’s only when words become ideas, which become fantasies, which turn into real life actions that it becomes a problem. For most of us, reading a book like this would never translate into real action. For some highly disturbed individuals, perhaps it could, but that doesn’t make K. Webster, or me, or you responsible for it.
As a parent, if I had a teenage son that was subtly making advances toward me, I’d immediately start looking at everything and everyone that influenced him, real or electronic. I’d take him to every damn doctor I could, from MD’s to psychologists. I’d figure out the problem and fix it. That’s because I’m the adult, and I’m responsible for my child’s choices. The parent in this book (Reed) initially felt that twinge of disgust, of their relationship reaching a turning point, long before they moved to Alaska. But for whatever reasons, he let it happen. He made it happen.
Call it mental illness, call it depression or loneliness. Any or all of those reasons, by themselves aren’t bad. We’ve all experienced loneliness, or even depression. But when it’s used as an excuse to have sex with your child, then it becomes a CHOICE.
And when you make a bad choice, you have to pay the consequences. However, there are no consequences for the characters in this book. Perhaps that’s why having a HEA seems so disturbing. And maybe it’s a good thing that we feel disturbed by it.