The Far Wild by Alex Knight
Midas, Audible, £16.62
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Suni is a naturalist’s apprentice. With deep love and fascination for nature and other living things, she lives on the edge of the Far Wild, detailing flora and fauna found only there. She dreams of leading her own expedition into the Far Wild. But when one of her teachers goes missing, she has no choice but to find him whether she is ready for the perils of the Far Wild or not.
Senesio is the greatest adventurer you may not have heard of, but he is working on changing that. Living on the Far Wild’s, he takes dangerous missions to deal with wayward animals that endanger the lives of the people living there and has a biographer documenting his exploits. When he hears of the missing naturalist and the lost skyship, he knows this is his opportunity to further his reputation.
With his experience and her knowledge, they may just survive the Far Wild, but there are things out there bigger than both of them, and nothing is certain in the Far Wild.
The Far Wild has many similarities with Jurassic Park. Many people go on a rescue mission to find a missing comrade while avoiding the monsters and poisonous plant life that lives there. Most of the action involves running from one threat or another, as the aim is to survive, not conquer. And if surviving isn’t enough, there is a plot from a rival empire to steal the Far Wild’s natural resources, which could lead to war between the two nations.
In itself, the story isn’t overly complicated. Suni must gain experience and some street smarts, and Senesio must learn to work better with other people if they are to survive and stop a war between two nations. There are lots of monsters, plus one recurring creature not too dissimilar from a dinosaur, and the allies are picked off one by one until there only the core group remain. On paper, this is precisely the sort of story I love.
However, The Far Wild is only available on Audible, so there is no paper, electronic or otherwise. And that forms my main issue with the story. Unlike other Audible books, which are read by a single narrator, The Far Wild has a cast of characters who read their own parts. I hadn’t realised how much hearing someone else read would bother me. I suppose if I had found the voices matched the characters in my head, then they wouldn’t have put me off so much. Unfortunately, the voices didn’t match, especially when they imitated other characters. For example, whenever Senesio mimicked Suni, it was almost a cliche of a young naïve girl. Some people might think I’m picky, but it spoiled my enjoyment of the story.
I also found a lot of phrases were used so often they grated on my nerves. The continued repetition of ‘the Far Wild’ and ‘apprentice naturalist’ annoyed me. I have questioned whether I would have found the same issue if I had read for myself. I doubt I will find an answer because of the limited format the book is released in.
While the narration style may not be to everyone’s taste, there are many elements recommending The Far Wild. It is a fast-paced, big monster adventure, with a good dose of espionage, betrayal and untrustworthy allies to keep you on your toes until the very end.