by Alex Mallory
I’ve always loved Saundra Mitchell’s Vespertine series. She introduced me to the Wild Wild West of YA with nature’s magic thrown in for good measure. The fact that the books were about two things that I’d never picked out on my own volition speak volumes. She also knows how to write a good romance – which is key to keeping me coming back for more. So it was an unexpected, welcome surprise to learn that she wrote a contemporary retelling of Tarzan using a pseudonym.
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?
The novel opens up a little heavy on narration. It was Dara and her boyfriend fumbling through a camping trip that was meant to draw them closer but only managed to do the opposite. We also spent a lot of time in Cade’s head. Because he’s been living in the forest for so long, the appearance of a couple of intruders kept him in a perma-state of wonder. The forest had an air of slight danger. But I think it had to do with the way Cade stalked Dara. He was fascinated with her and the boy hasn’t talked to anyone for years, so I kinda get why he was all creepy.
Cade has such a sad story. From his parents’ choice to leave everything behind, to when they eventually left him behind, it was the kind of sorrow that you would feel with very little provocation. It was that palpable. I felt sorry for his lonesome existence and felt even sorrier when they took him out of the only home he’s ever known. He had no idea how to exist in a modern world. He had a child-like innocence untampered by civilization. So as much as I thought it would be good for him to learn the truth about the lies his parents fed him, his freedom cost him a lot more.
I had a bit of a hard time with Dara’s boyfriend, though. He was a jerk and I’m glad he was barely in the picture. I also felt that there should’ve been more on Cade’s adopted parents. They were really good to him, but Cade’s heart was in the forest so he didn’t know how to connect with them. Overall, I think I’d hoped for more. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the book was a decent size as it is, and most of the plot threads were woven in a nice plait. I supposed it could’ve used a bit more tightening, is what I’m trying to get at.
Wild is an entertaining modern interpretation of Tarzan. It had a lot of heart that will give you a mild case of chest pains. I think that you will learn to enjoy it, too if you go into it knowing that it’s not a perfect book, and as most interpretations go, it’s never as good as the original.