July 6, 2014

Wild Blog Tour: Review, Excerpt + Giveaway


Welcome to my stop on the WILD blog tour! Today I have my review of the book along with an awesome excerpt to share with you - and don't forget to enter the giveaway! To follow the rest of the tour, click on the banner above.

Author: Alex Mallory
Genre: YA Contemporary/Retelling
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen


The forest is full of secrets, and no one understands that better than Cade. Foraging, hunting, surviving— that’s all he knows. Alone for years, Cade believes he’s the sole survivor. At least, until he catches a glimpse of a beautiful stranger…

Dara expected to find natural wonders when she set off for a spring break camping trip. Instead, she discovers a primitive boy— he’s stealthy and handsome and he might be following her. Intrigued, Dara seeks him out and sets a catastrophe in motion.

Thrust back into society, Cade struggles with the realization that the life he knew was a lie. But he’s not the only one. Trying to explain life in a normal town leaves Dara questioning it.

As the media swarm and the police close in, Dara and Cade risk everything to get closer. But will the truth about Cade’s past tear them apart?

A YA Tarzan retelling.

Advance Praise:

“This novel combines adventure and romance into an engaging read. Cade and Dara’s struggle to be together shines.” - Kirkus Reviews

“The story is engaging and makes the reader want to know what will happen…next.” - VOYA

“The plotting of this retelling… is smart; A fine addition to any YA collection.” - School Library Journal

“WILD delivers a fresh take on a classic story, with authentic characters who come alive on the page and an exhilarating romance.” - Megan Crewe, author of the Fallen Worlds trilogy

There's a secluded camp deep in the heart of Daniel Boone National Forest.

It's not a summer escape. There's no tent here. This is a living space. Comfortable. Tidy. Laundry hangs on a line, and Brendan Walsh sits in the open, scraping a hide. He's brown from the sun; his skin is the same shade as his earth-worn jeans and buckskins.

Beside him, Cade, a toddler, plays in the dust. With his dark hair and brown eyes, he can fade into the forest completely. Hide-and-seek is the most terrifying game Cade can play. He's small enough to fit inside stumps or inside the belly of a bear.

His chubby fingers grip his clay animals. They're artlessly made, suggestions of a bear, a cat, a cow. Their owner doesn't care. He marches them up his mother's leg, then down it again.

When he looks at her, he laughs. She smiles, but it doesn't quite reach her eyes.

Liza Walsh is ever aware. Ever watching. Ever listening. Evan as she braids reeds into a basket, her eyes dart. They linger on shadows, on shapes. It's summer, when the shade beneath the canopy turns the forest to perpetual twilight.

Interrupting his wife's thoughts, Brendan says, "I thought we might hike to the falls tomorrow."

"That'll be nice," Liza says. "We'll check the hives on the way back."

In high summer the bee hollow flows with honey. The Walshes feast on rabbit and wild parsnips, cattail roots and dandelion greens, and for dessert, blackberries and mulberries, and honey. Honey raw on fingers. Honey thinned in ginger water, honey drizzled on the creamy, custardy insides of a ripe pawpaw.

Fall brings big game, but less honey. Winter is hunger season, and spring, near starvation. So the Walshes visit the bee hollow as often as they can in the summer. They have to be careful. If they damage the hives, the queen will fly away. They'll be left with nothing but sagging, empty honeycomb and the memory of sweet days lost.

When a crack rents the air, Liza jumps to her feet. She plucks Cade from the dust. As unfamiliar voices ring out, she stuffs Cade into a recess in the cliff. It's not quite a cave, but is just big enough to hide in.

A man says, "South by southwest."

"Quadrant clear," a woman replies.

Hands on Cade's shoulders, Liza leans over to whisper, "Stay here, baby."

Then she rushes outside. Moving as a team, she and Brendan dismantle their camp. The laundry comes down. They haul blankets made of leaves and vines from the underbrush. A hollowed rock rolls over their fire pit. They can do nothing about the smoke. Its sweet scent hangs in the air, but there will be no more white, wispy fingers curling toward the sky.

They don't stop to admire their work. Once the camp is erased, Brendan and Liza duck into the hiding place with Cade. Picking him up, Liza smooths his head against her shoulder.

Outside, two rangers tramp by. Their olive-and-khaki uniforms don't blend into the forest. They're highlighted against it. A streak of light glitters on their badges.

Murmuring, rocking, Liza tells Cade, "Don't ever let them see you, baby. They'll hurt you. They'll infect you."

Liza presses herself close to the mouth of the cave. The rangers hike on. She listens until she hears nothing but the forest. When the birds start to sing again, when the frogs join in, that's when it's safe to come outside again. Pushing aside the leafy camouflage that hides them, she turns back.

"We can't ever go back. They're all dying. We're the only ones who are safe. Remember that, Cade."

Cade's eyes are wide and frightened. He's four years old, and he understands that their forest is the only world that's left. When outsiders come through, and they almost never do, they're dangerous. They'll make him sick. Sick means he'll die. Cade's not sure he understands dead, but he knows it's bad.

Past the park rangers, who only hiked in to check on the big-eared bats living among the caves, past hikers trying to orient themselves to find the next trailhead; out of the woods and onto a highway, past cars on the road, and down a long highway - beyond a sign that says Makwa Town Limits, down the main street, into the heart of a town green:

Hundreds of people mill the square. Laughing. Eating fair food. Going from booth to booth, ducking helium balloons and stuffed animals tied in plastic. A little boy Cade's age throws a Ping-Pong ball and wins a goldfish. His parents curse under their breath; their neighbors smile and turn toward the band-stand.

Older boys cruise the festival. Their gangly gaits take them past clutches of  girls who either watch them or pretend to eat their funnel cakes. Everyone is happy - young and old, diverse and energetic. They bask in the sun and share treats, and walk arm in arm, around and around.

What they are not is sick. They're not dying. 
Wild is a young adult retelling of Tarzan set in contemporary times. It follows Cade - a teen who has grown up living in the woods his entire life. He's at home there and knows that the people outside the forest are dead or sick, so he never leaves. Until the day that he sees a beautiful girl camping in the woods. Her name is Dara and she's with a male named Josh - whom Cade thinks is an idiot and doesn't like it when he touches Dara. He's fascinated by her and begins to follow her around the forest as she explores and takes pictures. Dara isn't fooled for long and finally catches Cade creeping around the forest. She believes she's doing the right thing by taking him out of the woods and back into society - where she thinks he belongs. Things quickly get out of control as the media and the police hound Cade and Dara constantly; and Dara begins to question the "normal life" she lives as she tries to explain everything to Cade. As the two begin to grow closer, the truth about Cade's past comes to light and puts everything they've been working towards in danger. 

I've never read any of the Tarzan stories before - or watched any of the movies - so I'm not completely familiar with the entire plot. I think that made the book a bit more refreshing and fascinating for me to read - mostly because I wasn't sure how things were going to end. The author did an amazing job of making this unlikely scenario seem completely possible - even in our society. I wasn't sure if I would be able to relate to Cade's character very much or how believable the story would be, but I was pleasantly surprised. I loved the main characters of Cade and Dara - their quirks and flaws - and how their relationship grew throughout the story. The author wrote the book so everything that occurred seemed completely natural and realistic. There were definitely points in the story where I was nervous to see how things would play out - especially with Cade - and I found myself eagerly reading until the end. The writing was fantastic with a natural pace and effortless flow that made it easy for me to sink inside the pages and not come back out until I finished the last word. I'm a bit behind on joining the retelling bandwagon - and I wasn't sure how I would like this one because it's base story was Tarzan - but it managed to surpass any expectations or doubts I had. I definitely recommend this for fans of several genres, including YA contemporary fiction and retellings.

Alex Mallory is a pen name for YA author Saundra Mitchell. She’s a big fan of reading, history, camping and competitive M&M sorting.

She once crossed a dilapidated train trestle in the middle of the night, 200 feet above the Wabash River, in a futile attempt to prove her love to someone who had no idea she existed.

1) She lived to tell about it. 2) It didn’t work. 3) She doesn’t recommend it.
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Giveaway is open to US Only | Must be 13 or older to enter 

A Wild Prize Pack Featuring: a signed, finished copy of WILD, a copy of Edgar Rice Burroughs' TARZAN OF THE APES, a DVD (region 1) of Greystoke: Legend of Tarzan of the Apes, bookmarks, and a stuffed plush flu microbe. (US Only)


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