My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A Place Outside The Wild is not a typical dystopian novel despite its setting – eight years post zombie apocalypse – which I think makes it a unique read in the genre. The characters are fully fleshed (no pun intended), as is the world. There are twists to the plot that grabbed me by the collar and shook the crap out of me. The biggest flaw was the slow build up to said twists. It was never boring (good suspense), but it is very light on action (after the opening grab) up to almost the 70% mark. I like the work very much, and plan to read the next in the series.
The story is centered on a small enclave of survivors who have managed to ‘wait out’ the zombie life-spans (or so they believe) and scratch out a steadily improving life post Z-day. They have their internal struggles: politics, psychological and social issues, that are all consequences of the apocalypse. The society described in this book is totally believable and will suck you into itself.
The overall plot arc of the zombies and their origins is also a major deviation from most of the stories I’ve seen. You are given hints throughout, some of which I admit I questioned as odd at first, until the final shoe drops. When it does, it’s a Bozo the Clown sized sum-bitch that will leave you gaping at the ramifications!
Now for the ‘critical’ part of my review, which I almost hate to give because I know the difficulties in writing… but I started these reviews to remind myself about my feeling on the books I read, so… here it is. I have two things that keep me from giving the book the fifth star on Goodreads. They are related to pacing and conflict resolution.
Firstly, the drawback to having many small side arcs in the novel is that while they do help build tension and give the overall world more detail, they are also a bit dull to hold onto all the way to the end. All the side arcs fed the climax. If they had been a bit more self-contained I think they would have helped the pacing, giving it more of an ebb-and-flow of action and resolution.
Secondly, the resolutions in the end felt a bit dues-ex-machina in nature. The climax of the overall plot was exciting, but the side arc resolutions were a bit of a let-down, especially when I had already felt them to be a bit slow in the first place.
I can’t explain this well without spoilers, so let me smooth out the criticisms here for anyone reading this review… these are only slight negatives. The book is still getting FOUR STARS!
If you like being immersed in a world and surprised by new concepts to an already expansive genre, then this book is one you need to read. It puts a twist to the zombie origin story that has so much potential it will stagger you. It also doesn’t drag you to the depths of despair, but shows the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable odds. Read the book. I give it four stars and call it a Great Read!