Edited by the New York Times bestselling author Shaun David Hutchinson, author of WE ARE THE ANTS, AT THE EDGE OF THE UNIVERSE, THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY, FML, THE DEATHDAY LETTERS and VIOLENT ENDS, along with nine other authors, comes FERAL YOUTH, a collaborative work like you haven’t seen before.
Ten teens are left abandoned in the wild after arriving at an outdoor education program designed to teach troubled adolescents the importance of trust and hard work. After spending almost three weeks learning how to survive in the wilderness, the teens are dropped off miles away from camp — with only their packs and each other to survive. Told in all 10 teens’ point of view, FERAL YOUTH is a story about letting go of your past, allowing a better future in and trusting those when you need them the most.
If you don’t know me, you don’t know that Hutchinson’s 2016 release, WE ARE THE ANTS is my favorite book of all time. I also read his 2018 release, THE APOCLAYPSE OF ELENA MENDOZA, in advance recently and I REALLY enjoyed that one as well.
“FERAL YOUTH will give readers both stories that they are sure to enjoy and a set of diverse characters that ensures that they will also find someone that they connect with.”
While I’ve obviously immensely enjoyed most of Hutchinson’s works, I was honestly nervous going into this one. First of all, short story collections usually aren’t for me. For whatever reason I can’t ever find myself getting attached to the story or the characters because it’s just too short of a period of time, for me. Also, while this book does have some writings of Shaun, the majority of this book is by nine different authors that for the most part, I’ve never read from before.
Sadly, I was a bit disappointed with this one. This is all personal, because like I said, I’m not a huge fan of this type of book, so I had a lot of hard time connecting with the story or the characters. Another thing I didn’t like (which once again, is definitely personal), is that there were a few paranormal stories in this one. This is all my fault (and maybe the book’s marketing), because I went into this thinking that it was a contemporary/survival story, so when I read three stories that had paranormal elements, it felt…misplaced.
Something else that I felt was strange about this book is that even though it’s marketed as this survival type of story, that’s hardly the focus at all. The majority of this book is focused on the backstories of the characters, which is something I appreciate, but I LOVED the small amount of scenes where we say the grittiness of the survival tactics that they learned, put to use.
Since this is an anthology, I thought that I would rate each story individually:
The Butterfly Effect by Marieke Nijkamp — 3/5 stars, I honestly don’t have much to say about this one, just didn’t do anything for me, personally. (Trigger Warning for Self Harm)
A Ruthless Dame by Tim Floreen — 5/5 stars, This was absolutely the best story out of this book. I LOVED the main character as well as the story and would LOVE to see this adapted into a full novel. (Trigger Warning for Pedophilia)
Look Down by Robin Talley — 1/5 stars, I honestly skimmed this one — it was one of the paranormal stories that I really didn’t enjoy.
Big Brother Part. 1 by E.C. Meyers — 3/5 stars, This story was honestly very uncomfortable and gross to read, but I was still invested and found myself flying through it.
The Subjective by Alaya Dawn Johnson — 1/5 stars, This story was yet another paranormal-based story, which is not my thing as you can probably tell at this point.
A Cautionary Tale by Stephanie Kuehn — 5/5 stars, I was actually going to rate this 4 stars but the ending left me breathless. I would also love to see this one adapted into a full novel.
Jackie’s Story by Justina Ireland — 4/5 stars, this is a VERY unique take on the Three Little Pigs tale, and I would also enjoy seeing this in a full form.
Big Brother Part. 2- 3/5 — I really enjoyed the beginning of this one, but wasn’t a fan of the ending.
Self- Portrait– 4/5 — This story was pretty interesting, honestly don’t have any other thoughts about this one.
A Violation of Rule 16– 5/5 — This story was probably my second favorite of this collection. I loved the main character and loved the feminist aspects that this book delivered.
The Chaos effect (sequel to The Butterfly Effect) – 5/5 — I was going to give this a 3/5, but the ending completely changed my rating. It was such a heart breaking story, and I found some quotes that were really beautiful.
The in-between chapters (by Shaun David Hutchinson)- 4/5 — While I love his writing, there just wasn’t enough for me to give it a full 5 star rating.
While I didn’t love a few of these stories, I think that this is still worth picking up because of the ones I REALLY enjoyed. Told in many different genres such as contemporary, horror and paranormal, FERAL YOUTH will give readers both stories that they are sure to enjoy and a set of diverse characters that ensures that they will also find someone that they connect with.