THE FAR WILD by Alex Knight (BOOK REVIEW)
“Warm, heavy rain that fell in steady torrents and was so fierce it drowned out anything but the loudest of sounds. It was the kind of rain the Far Wild was infamous for. The kind that turned even the best-drained paths to ankle-deep mud and the fiercest fires to smoky pools of ash. It was the kind of rain that brought low even the boldest of adventurers’ spirits.”
The Far Wild, a place full of mystery, wonder and the most deadliest creatures one can hope to never encounter. On the edge lies the Cyphite colony of Lekarsos where many have made their home. Suni Koudounas, a naturalist’s apprentice at the Lekarsos campus of the Imperial College, is enamoured by the wilderness the Far Wild has to offer. She’s studied countless books, drawn many illustrations of the known animals, and is eager to go on her first expedition into this cryptic jungle. When the opportunity finally arises, it is however under dire circumstances as Kamil, Suni’s fond mentor, is thought to be in danger and Suni insists on being part of the rescue mission.
The Far Wild is known as the place you go to die, yet for Senesio Suleiman Nicolaou, it’s the place he goes to live. Naturally when he hears of the rescue mission, he sees a potential opportunity to gain fame, glory, and wealth—you know the important things in life—so he too insists on joining the crew. Whether anyone wants him there or not. Senesio has one fear though and it’s not the predators of the Wild, oh no, it’s because he hasn’t got a biographer to record and immortalise his heroic adventure.
As Suni, Senesio and a motley crew head out into the depths of the jungle, a simple rescue mission turns into a deadly game of survival. The Far Wild by Alex Knight is an addictive action packed, fun filled adventure which kept me grinning from ear to ear and also teetering on the edge of my seat.
Knight boldly uses three first person POV’s for his characters, which I feel worked really well as he nuances their voices enough to make them distinct from one another. Most notably he does this through tone. Where Suni’s tone is intellectual, sophisticated and filled with a bookish air, Senesio is boastful, overly confident with plenty of sarcasm. Then there’s Theo who is more commanding, her thoughts are more practical and cautious. Each of our main characters bring humour to the narrative in various ways, Senesio with his daring and outrageous antics, Suni with her growing boldness and reckless plans, and Corporal Theo who later on in the novel made it clear she was pretty much tired of all this shit.
Senesio is that type of character one instantly likes and not just because at first glance he comes across as a little unhinged. From the moment Senesio puts his own life at risk to save the crew, I knew this was a character with a hidden heart and a wealth of loyalty. Time and time again Senesio instantly jumped head first to protect the crew, especially their guidemaster Elpida and Suni. Even though he may deny it, under the surface he truly does care and this made him a delightfully charming character. Shockingly he is actually really good at dealing with the creatures of Far Wild too, although whether that’s by skill or sheer luck, I couldn’t quite tell. Let’s be realistic though, he cares a great deal about his fame and about owning a small kingdom of his own somewhere warm too, but it doesn’t negate the fact that he is the first to put himself in danger.
“When they looked at this place all they saw was the bad. The things they feared. But most of the time, fear was just a lack of understanding. People feared the unknown, but students of the college were taught to plunge into it.
Through fear, enlightenment. That was the motto.”
Suni, on the other hand, is a character who grows and changes throughout the course of the novel. To begin with, the Far Wild overwhelms her, when faced with her first creature, a giant Komodo on the rampage to kill them all, she becomes frozen with fear, understandably so. I mean no amount of books can prepare you to come face to face with such a ferocious animal. Yet over time Suni becomes determined to show just how capable she is, she will not be the only member of the crew who has no worth. My concern for her character grew as her plans to help her friends grew more and more ridiculous. As highly entertaining as that was, it was somewhat nerve wracking too.
As for the side characters my two favourites were our fiery guidemaster Elpida, and slightly crazy Oz. They all worked to show how the Far Wild affects each character in different ways, where Elpida was visibly scarred from her previous ordeals there, Oz had clearly found adventure in the jungle and knew the terrain well. They were both also more equipped to deal with the threat from the soldiers from the Bospur empire, who haunted their journey at every step.
“That was just how nature went. Nature was a frightening, powerful, ancient thing. It’d been here before us and would persist after us. But today, in this moment, nature had lost. Mankind and machinery would take the day.
The komodo seemed to disagree.”
An important theme within the novel was that the Far Wild belonged to the animals and not the humans. Knight delivered many incredible action scenes, I particularly enjoyed the battle with the Wendiguars when our band of characters travelled through the perilous Thick. There were also the Terror Birds who showed just how intelligent they were by knowing a rues was being played on them. Even the scenes with the Komodo, showing it to be the true king of the jungle, reflected that these are creatures working on instinct, defending their territory and ensuring their survival. The humans were in their domain and they were not welcome. Knight’s narrative is as entertaining and action packed as monster movies such as Jurassic Park and Godzilla but his message is much more mindful towards nature.
High stakes adventure, unlikely heroes and animals which are equal parts terrifying and majestic, The Far Wild is undoubtedly one compelling ride. Knight blends fantasy with a pinch of horror and a big dollop of humour and serves up an immensely thrilling read.
“Never roll over and die. Never accept defeat, or limitations. That was the motto I’d lived by and one day it’d be the motto I died by. But that day wasn’t today. Wasn’t going to be tomorrow, either.”
ARC provided by Alex Knight, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the copy!
The Far Wild is out now in audiobook and will be released in e-book and paperback on 29th March.
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