Publisher's Note:  

A girl is sent against her will to a remote wilderness boot camp where things aren't what they seem in this riveting and twisty paperback thriller.


Dawn isn't a bad person--she's just made some bad choices: wrong guy, wrong friends, wrong everything. But she wasn't expecting her parents to pay a boatload of money to ship her off to OUT OF THE WILD, a wilderness boot camp with a bunch of other messed up kids to learn important "life lessons." It's true that Dawn and the other cubs will learn a lot--but it's not what any of them expect. Because what happens in the woods isn't what their parents planned. Sometimes plans go very wrong. And this is one of those times. Suddenly Dawn is more scared than she's ever been in her life. And you will be too.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Random House

The Wild

by Owen Laukkanen

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Overall Review:  

For some reason I've always been a bit fascinated by wilderness survival and have read several fiction and non-fiction books about it in the past. I think my first experience reading about it was probably the middle grade book A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements. So, when I read the synopsis of The Wild I knew I just had to read it. The Wild is different from the other books I have read, in that the characters are surviving in the wild at the mercy of a "wilderness therapy" program that takes troubled youth and throws them into an experience that is supposed to fix them and give them skills that will help them navigate their lives in healthier ways.

The Wild begins with the protagonist, Dawn, being taken out of a not-so-great living situation and flown to an unknown (to her) destination. It is clear from the beginning that Dawn is aware that her life isn't healthy, and that she's living the way she is because that's how she has learned to cope. Her parents have signed her up for this therapy program because they feel helpless and don't know how to deal with her behavior. We get to read Dawn's perspective about this "kidnapping" and her journey to the headquarters of the therapy program, and at first, she seems very angry and is looking for ways to escape, but it seems like she's in it for the long haul, especially once she meets some of the other kids that are participating in the program and have been there for a while.

I knew to expect some situations to come up where Dawn feels as if she is in danger and must rely on herself and others for strength to get through the experience. Some of the things she and the others go through are clearly trust exercises, while others pose safety risks and it's obvious that Dawn, the group she is in, and even the counselors fear for their lives. This is the wilderness, after all, and wild animals and weather aren't always predictable. Dawn is told that there are different levels that she must move through to be able to go home, and though the going is rough, she is determined to move through the ranks as fast as possible and get out of there. Then, things take a turn and things get really wild.

I really enjoyed this book, and the unique idea behind it. It was just the perfect amount of real and scary, and I would recommend it as a book for both boys and girls, which isn't always the case with books that have a female protagonist. A little bit of a warning: there are some scenes that are quite heart-poundingly scary, so if you are a reader prone to nightmares, beware! 

Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  18 mild obscenities; 2 religious profanities; 5 derogatory names; 73 scatological words; 38 anatomical terms; 2 offensive hand gestures; 59 F-word derivatives. 

Violence/Gore:  A brief report of a minor stabbing her mom's boyfriend in the neck when he tried to "put his hands on her"; a brief verbal fight occurs; a scene occurs where a minor fears for her life when an animal begins walking towards her and preparing to attack her; a brief scene occurs where a minor slips on the side of a mountain and is sure she is going to go over the edge; a brief scene occurs where a group of characters are climbing on a very narrow path and fear falling over the edge of a cliff; a brief scene occurs where a character falls over the edge of a cliff and her companions are sure she has died; a brief scene occurs where two minors fight and one lunges at the other with a pointed rock; minors get in a fight and one pins the other to the ground, one of them is injured and is mentioned to wipe blood from his mouth; a minor comes across another minor lying dead in the woods and it is mentioned that he sustained injuries to his face, the observer is mentioned to be scared to look at the dead body; a minor is mentioned to be injured in a fight and is later mentioned to have blood seeping through his jacket that is both old and fresh; a minor is mentioned to think of the death of her father as her fault; a brief scene occurs where a report of a character having a violent reputation beating someone and leaving them for dead is made; a minor is mentioned to have a bloody nose; a brief scene occurs where minors fear that an attacker will push them over the edge of a cliff; a brief scene occurs where minors get in a fight and a boy is observed to be doubled over and clutching at a bloody chest wound; a minor is mentioned to be pushed over the edge of a cliff after a brief altercation; a minor is briefly observed lying on her back in snow and bleeding; a minor is chased through the woods in a brief scene and fears she will be attacked, she stumbles and is mentioned to run into a tree and blackout; a minor observes the sounds of a person being attacked and hit with something hard over and over, she later comes across the body of the adult that was being attacked and is mentioned to get a brief glimpse of a bloody face and knows he is dead; a brief scene occurs where a minor stabs her attacker with a knife over and over until he staggers away. 

Sex/Nudity:  A brief scene occurs where a minor is forced to strip in front of a person of authority and finds it demeaning; a boy is mentioned to have been noticed looking at girls in a creepy way and making inappropriate comments about their clothes and how  they look; a minor is mentioned to be sleeping with her older, adult boyfriend; a boy is mentioned to take off his shirt in a non-sexual way; a minor is mentioned to have had sex with an adult; a boy is mentioned to talk in a sexy voice; a brief sexual encounter occurs where a threesome is suggested; minors are mentioned to probably be hooking up; a minor accuses another minor of touching her butt; a counselor is accused of being a child molester; a brief scene occurs where a boy and a girl have to share a tent and the boy tries to get the girl to have sex with him; making out is referred to.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Stealing; murder; loss of a loved one; emotional distress.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

A girl is dating a man who is referred to as a drug dealer; a minor is referred to as being wasted and high; a minor refers to a stash of pills; a minor is mentioned to self-medicate; a minor is mentioned to drink hard liquor; a minor refers to an experience as being similar to just "doing a line"; a minor is mentioned to smoke a lot of pot; a man is mentioned to have died in a drunk driving accident.

Reviewed By Lydia
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