Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: "The Wilding" by Benjamin Percy

I find it very hard to review a genre book that is overwritten. I would like to talk about how the fancy language detracts from the story, and how descriptions can sometimes go on for much longer than they need to be, but I do not want to sound like I am not an admirer of decent prose. And for all of its flaws, I found Benjamin Percy’s debut novel, The Wilding, to be quite a unique take on a familiar genre. And for all that I feel about how the prose works against the novel, I found some of the passages to be quite affecting and revelatory, and even surprising, since Percy was barely 30 when he wrote such a mature book. But again, this book went overboard with it in the wrong places, leaving the reader with a cool yet somewhat disappointing experience. The setting of this novel is the Echo Canyon, a wooded area in rural Oregon that is about to be turned into a country club. For one last weekend, Justin, a high school teacher is invited, along with his son Graham, for one last hunting trip with their father, Paul, a brutal conservationist whom Justin is somewhat estranged from. While on the trip, the find the trail of a large, mythical bear, while at home, Justin’s wife Karen is being stalked by Brian, a damaged Iraq war veteran and Bobby, a local millionaire who is behind Echo Canyon’s demolition. It sounds cool but never adds up to anything that you can sink your teeth into. But there is violence in odd places in this book, thanks to Percy’s descriptive language. There is a scene where a tree is chopped up, and it sounds like something cannibalistic and rather sickening. It is cool to watch these literary acrobatics, but I wished I left this book with a deeper impression.
Rating: 4/5

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