Title: Feral Youth
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson et al.
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5 Stars)
Release Date: September 5, 2017
“There’s no such thing as an objective truth anymore. It’s all about what you believe. Believe something hard enough and – to you at least – that’s the truth forever and ever, and fuck anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.”
I love anthologies and retellings (this one is inspired by The Canterbury Tales) so this was a perfect combination for me. The narration is fantastic – dark, humorous, honest. The transitions between stories are great, and I really liked the different character dynamics we get to see. We follow 10 troubled teens who are left alone in the woods and must make it back to their camp. To pass the time, they decide to tell stories, and what we get is engaging POV stories from different authors reflecting the different characters. Feral Youth is a story within a story – we see into these characters lives, and see their truths, or what they present as their truths, and we see their growth. It’s such a unique and fun reading experience!
Things I Liked
I loved the narration and Gio as the narrator. It was blunt, honest, and biting. I loved the candor Gio spoke with and the humor we got from all the characters interacting. There were many stubborn personalities, and their clashing provided excellent entertainment. I love that Gio presents himself as truthful, but he is still an unreliable narrator.
I also thought the transitions between the character stories and the narration was done very well. The lead-ins to the character stories flowed naturally from the situation or from character’s conversation, when they easily could have been clunky or abrupt.
The character’s stories themselves were fantastic! I loved that we got a mix of personal/biographical stories and ones that were fiction. It was a nice balance, and even the non-biographical stories were personal to the characters and showed more about them. I like how Gio says that stories aren’t about truthfulness, but about the belief and intent of the storyteller. It becomes their truth, and thereby the truth.
I liked seeing the character growth through the 3 day trek through the woods. We see the characters learn more about themselves. We see them examine how they are viewed by society and others, what expectations are placed on them, how people interact with them and how they interact with the world around them. All the characters learn something that impacts them. Which is best shown in this quote:
“Our parents and teachers and all the other adults in our lives might have seen us as animals, as feral youth, determined to destroy our lives and the lives of those around us, but we weren’t. We were people, and we would not be ignored anymore.”
Favorite stories: “Jackie’s Story” by Justina Ireland & “Self-Portrait” by Brandy Colbert
Things I Didn’t Like
I don’t even think you can call them chapters really, but the sections sometimes felt a little long, and I found myself taking breaks in the middle of a story. So I wasn’t as invested as I would have liked to have been during parts. This is purely a personal preference, as I tend to prefer shorter chapters and sections in books. And as this majorly focuses on characters, I feel like being invested is needed for me as a reader.
Least favorite story: “Big Brother, Part 1” by E.C. Myers (I did like Part 2!)
Feral Youth is a love story to the downtrodden, misguided misunderstood, and disrespected. We see these characters, who for some reason or another, are shunned as “troubled” and “bad” by those around them. This is their story and their truths. This is a band of misfits coming together and embracing themselves and their experiences. I loved basically everything about the story and I will definitely be reading more from all of these authors in the future!
Trigger Warnings: self harm (“The Butterfly Effect”), rape (“The Chaos Effect”)
I received a copy of the book from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.