Audiobook Review: Wild Country by Anne Bishop
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Penguin Random House Audio
Released on March 5, 2019
I have been dragging my feet listening to this book because it is the last of the published books from the World of the Others that I hadn’t read or listened to at least once. I savored the idea of one remaining story that I didn’t know the outcome. However, I finally picked it up and tuned in discovering this one had several familiar faces and a partial storyline that I already knew from Etched in Bone that raised my interest nicely.
Wild Country is the seventh of the Others series and the second book in The World of the Others. I remember several folks saying that new readers could begin with The World of the Others books and have no trouble. That might have been true of Lake Silence though I feel that it, too, builds on the previous books, but Wild Country is the sequel to Marked in the Flesh and is running parallel to Etched in the Bone. It shows a good deal of that storyline from the perspective of those events from outside the Lakeside Courtyard. It also brings back several characters from the Prairie Gold Intuit settlement, the Others living nearby, and Jana the woman cop who were all from the earlier books. All that to say, I wouldn’t advice getting this out of order or picking up the spin off series without reading/listening to the first.
Wild Country picks up events following the catastrophic war the Humans First waged on the Others and found themselves and many other humans wiped out. The world trembled under the Other’s might and now is precariously attempting to resettle. But, the world has changed for humans. Many of their cities and towns are gone while others are no longer under human control. Bennett is one of those towns.
The Others represented by Sanguinati and several shifter Guards as well as a Plague Rider are joined by humans of all stripe to bring the frontier town of Bennett back into functioning order. It sits on the edge of the Wild Country in sight of the Elder Hills where the Elders watch the progress carefully and are prepared to rush down from the hills and wipe it all out if the humans get out of hand again.
Tolya Sanguinati as mayor works directly with Virgil Wolfguard and Jessie an Intuit to hopefully bring in the right people to settle there including Barb an ‘almost’ vet for the quickly growing feral pets from the previous owners and Jana, a rookie police officer who can’t get hired elsewhere. Things are uneasy, but progressing when the human scavengers start to descend on Bennett and those there are in danger from both these outlaws and what will come to punish when lines get crossed.
Wild Country had me wildly enthusiastic at first. I love frontier stories and this one was a modern Old West because of Bennett now on the edge of civilization with danger and adventure surrounding its resettlement far from many of the usual modern conveniences where going by horseback and wagon and trading for goods and rough justice are the thing of the day. I even loved seeing Jessie and her son, who gets a romance of his own, Tolya and the rest of the Sanguinati along with Virgil and several shifter guards while meeting Scythe a new character. Some of the early plot build was welcomed and I really wanted to see what happened.
However, about a third of the way in, I was shaking my head and even though I finished this book and found it exciting, it disappointed me greatly. I’m about to go on a rant so feel free to skip down.
First of all, several human characters- with Jana and Barb at the top of the list- were as annoying as all get out. Barb was just too ignorant and naive to believe. She grew up in Lakeside and went through all the harrowing events that occurred there with the knowledge her police officer brother gave her, but she acts dumb enough to walk out into traffic without supervision. She’s wigging out about don’t hurt the doggies when the Others have to go after feral dog bands that are a danger in the town.
Then there is Jana who, I’ll grant her that she got short shift back in her city when she was treated badly by fellow police cadets and then couldn’t get hired. But, again, we run into someone who isn’t a ditz like Barb, but she still is ignorant and worse, belligerently and impulsively so, when she gets to Bennett and starts throwing her weight around among the Others trying to force them to do it her way. She’s never been outside her city, never done a day of regular duty, never engaged in a situation requiring her gun, never even given out a traffic ticket. Where does she get off challenging her boss all the freaking time and acting like they have to follow her idea of regulations for the job? Of all the characters in this book, Jana was the one that made no sense and I just wanted to duct tape her mouth, bundle her up, and toss her on the first train heading east. Fly. Swatted. Virgil the sheriff thinks her mouth and antics are mildly annoying, but cute and calls her the Wolverine. Uh huh…
Now, that pair and their antics would have been seriously irritating and shouldn’t have been allowed, but then things really started to fall apart for me from half-way on. After the events in previous books and what everyone knew happened, the whole last part of this book should have never happened. Every form of human scavenger descended upon Bennett and they were expected since everyone knew there were only so many places these types would find to go, but between Jana and some other humans yapping about waiting until they actually broke HUMAN law (even though this is a town under OTHER law) and being heeded and the ruling Elder Others sitting back and handicapping the ones in town instead of crushing the trouble, it was tough to watch it all unfold.
I couldn’t stop thinking of the analogy of parents with spoiled brat children distractedly saying, “Now, junior stop, stop junior, I told you to stop, you know the rules, stop…” and on and on without turning full attention to the child, getting them to see you mean business, and enforcing the rule.
The Others behavior made no sense to me the way they indulged humans when they knew it would end badly. Instead of doing what was promised, the Others are docile and let it get out of control. Oh yes, we get a huge confrontation and exciting climax, but the people who paid the price were the innocent. This book made me angry and I hated the way it portrayed the Others as wimpy, stupid, and ineffectual. This is not how they were at Lakeside or other Eastern cities nor at Lake Silence. I was left with a teaching story of how not to let the little snot-locker humans run riot including the supposed good ones like Jana. I saw no point to this story in the series or even as a separate standalone story in the series by the time it concluded. .
It wasn’t all doom and gloom. The friendship that came between Tolya Sanguinati and Jessie the Intuit absolutely sparkled for me. They were from different backgrounds and races, both have responsibilities that burden them, and even share one of the most surprising scenes in the series when they share one sensual night without it ever becoming a cliche romance. Then there is the grieving wolfguard from the hills and Virgil and his brother in the town who must overcome their hate and need for vengeance after their people including mates and children were wholesaled slaughtered. The entrance of Scythe who was lonely as a being whom everyone feared and yet Tolya and Virgil gave her a chance to be part of the community. I was deeply engaged with these particular characters and they are what kept me reading.
This was my first chance to listen to a book from the series and I do wish I had listened to earlier books because as angry and disappointed as I got with this book, even the narration didn’t pull out much enjoyment for me. I thought Alexandra Harris showed so much talent voicing several races, genders, ages, and scenes. I liked the way she read the scenes and hit the right tone and pacing for the story. I need to pick up more of her work.
So, all in all, no this was not a hit with me. I love the series and the world and everything about it, but I want to pretend this book never happened. I will whole-heartedly recommend the series and will be anxiously hoping there are more stories in the World of the Others.
My thanks to Penguin Random House Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.
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