Tuesday, November 26, 2013

An Inhuman Journey

In a world where we are already terrorized by swine flu and avian flu, the idea of those viruses infecting people with the animal genetics they carry is the next step we hope could never happen. In Kat Fall's Inhuman brings that terrorizing thought to life as the humans hide behind the walls and the animals roam around the outside.

Everything from the east of the Mississippi river is abandoned as the Feral Zone. When a biological disaster allowed animal DNA to mutate a human through a bite or contact with blood, the rest of the country realized quickly they had to abandon the East Coast in order to preserve what was left of the humans on the other side. Meanwhile, scientists worked on a cure, but the sheer amount of animal DNA in the human population makes a cure or even a treatment impossible without samples from every mutation. When a human is bitten by an infected human, the first stage of the Farae virus is a high fever that hits them immediately. Then, they begin stage two:  mutation. The second stage can last for years, if someone is lucky. As they physically transform into the animal, they still retain human conscience and reasoning. These manimals are still feared by the untouched population, but on the other side of the wall, the lines aren't so black and white. When an infected person finally enters the third stage of the virus, they turn into a Feral. The final change can be so abrupt, they can turn on their loved ones, which is why people are so skeptical of the manimals. But when it is your mother, father, brother, child, or spouse, kicking them out when they get bitten isn't so easy. Now thousands of ferals roam the East and even more people are infected by the virus. Meanwhile their families teeter on the balance of love and self-preservation in small civilizations that scrape by a living.

On the other side of the wall, life is different. It isn't necessarily easy, but it also isn't survival driven like life in the east. Lane is fascinated by the Feral Zone, but terrified by it at the same time. When her father, who usually travels for work and leaves her to fend for herself, is revealed by the government to be a "fetch", she can't believe her ears. Fetches go into the Feral Zone to bring back items for people on the other side of the wall, but their very existence is highly illegal and can result in their execution. Lane always knew her father was an art dealer, but she had no idea he spent his life getting on the other side of the wall to collect abandoned art. Now Director Spurling needs her father to fetch something personal. She is offering full immunity for Lane's father, but first Lane has to find him and get him to do the fetch. But finding someone on the Feral side of the wall isn't easy. In fact, it is the most dangerous thing Lane has ever tried to do... until she realizes she has to do the fetch for her father.

Wow! This was such a fast, fun science fiction novel, I couldn't get enough of it! The story behind the virus was as fascinating as the story of what happens to the people it infects. I loved the contrast between the safe zone behind the wall, the intact humans in the Feral Zone, and the manimals. It really demonstrated a class hierarchy that could rival communities existing today. And the descriptions of the manimals and the ferals is so terrifying and creepy, you can just visuals these animal/humans perfectly! It made the story so graphic and vivid, I couldn't get enough of it! 

When Lane started off on her journey accompanied by a green line guard named Everson and a scampish guy named Rafe who makes his living stealing from the guards to deliver to the towns in the zone, I was a little disappointed to see yet another love triangle when I really wanted the action of the story to be the focus. But it actually turned out to be the least offensive and least annoying love triangle I have every encountered! In fact, there was even a point when Rafe outright said, "Ok, I am taking myself out of this silly love triangle!" It was like breaking down the fourth wall for television- if the characters acknowledge the silliness, it makes it not-so-silly! Meanwhile, Everson's "by the book" attitude contrasted with Rafe's "anything goes" attitude perfectly. I loved how they came together to help Lane, protected her, but still did so in wildly different ways. I loved both these boys for very different reasons, and I can't wait to get more of them in the second book. But beware- this ends in a serious cliffhanger, so if you can't wait for the rest of the story, you should hold off until the next book comes out to read this one! This is a good series for strong middle readers through young adult readers. The violence in the Feral Zone is expected, and some of the creature mutations are downright terrifying (I am now having nightmares about weevlings and chimpacabras, Ms. Falls. Thanks for that!), but it is so fast-paced and exciting, it will hold anyone's attention!

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