Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wild Child by Mike Wells

Publisher: Self-published by Mike Wells (Read about that arduous journey here.)
Age: Middle-Grade
Species: Human/ Modified Humans
Rating: 3.5/5
Interest: Book from author/ Requested review/ 200 in 2011

Briana Fox is the wildest girl in school. She and Kyle have been friends for a long time... almost lovers. When Briana challenges Kyle to a swim across the lake, she's injured in a terrible accident, but also discovers a mysterious substance in an underwater cave. What seems to be a magical yet harmless "power drug" turns out to have unexpected properties. Briana soon becomes dependent on it for her very survival. When two government agents get wind of their discovery, they will stop at nothing to force Kyle and Briana to reveal its source.

Though written for teenagers, readers of all ages will enjoy this fast-paced, moving story.

The only reason I've given Wild Child a 3.5 is length.

I was captivated by the story, interested in the characters' lives and sincerely looking forward hearing more about the "wonder drug." The book ended too quickly for me. Many topics and issues could have been explored at greater length and I was sort of disappointed they weren't. 

A great theme that emerged from Wild Child was addiction. Wells very carefully constructed the story around Briana's need, without making her seem like an addict. True, she wanted the drug desperately, but without it she would have died. It is harder to pass judgement on someone who needs a substance to the point where it can help them or kill them. I actually began asking myself what I would have been able to do in that kind of situation.

Kyle didn't grab me at first because I am not a big fan of male point of view. However, after a few pages I was really sucked into his mind with all of the action, danger and mystery. I like that Kyle is a stand-up guy. He clearly respected some authority, but was prepared to do anything to keep his friend safe. Not many people are willing to go to that extreme for their friends anymore, it was endearing to watch. I couldn't get a good sense of Briana. She was very up and down with regards to emotions. One second she was manically bouncing around everywhere and the next she could barely stand. Understandably, she was entrenched in her physical problems, but I still would have liked to see some more character development from her. I glimpsed a strong will at a few points in the novel and would have liked to see that brought to the forefront.

The ending, while sudden was extremely good. Given what happened during the story, I was very curious as to how it could possibly end. If Wild Child had gone one way it would have been cheesy, if it went another, the book could have continued for a few more pages. I feel like the ending was right and strangely poetic. In a way it was sad and sort of beautiful, which drove my want to see more story.

I'm not exactly familiar with the inner-workings of government organization, but the actions of the officials seemed plausible. At certain points it sounded like they had briars up their butts and supremely over-reacted to events, but not having experience with espionage and secrecy, I couldn't say if that was right.

Overall, this is a very fast-paced and incredibly interesting book that any middle-schooler would like. It is  short but sweet. I definitely recommend this to any "tweens" I know. I'm not sure of its printed availability, but Amazon and Smashwords all have Wild Child at a very low price. Parents can easily download this for their children on any e-reading device or their computer. Get a copy soon! 

Click here to see Mike Well's student art contest for the cover of his next book, A Gift From the Stars. 

Teaser Lines: "He would swim and swim and swim, as long as the oxygen would last, until he was far away from the searchlights and the helicopters and all the government men.  

And then he would walk."

Happy Reading, 

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