ARC Review: Wicked River by Jenny Milchman

aka This some white people mess…

 


 

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Six million acres of Adirondack forest separate Natalie and Doug Larson from civilization. For the newlyweds, an isolated, back country honeymoon seems ideal: a chance to start their lives together with an adventure, on their own. But just as Natalie and Doug begin to explore the dark interiors of their own hearts, as well as the depths of their love for each other, it becomes clear that they are not alone in the woods.

Because six million acres makes it easy for the wicked to hide. And even easier for someone to go missing for good.

As they struggle with the worst the wilderness has to offer, a man watches them, wielding the forest like a weapon. And once they are near his domain, he will do everything in his power to make sure they never walk out again.

Published: May 1, 2018.

 

The characters

 

 

Natalie

Oh Natalie…how I wish you weren’t so easily swayed, then none of this would have happened. You would have had a traditional honeymoon, with accessible communication, and warm beds etc. Instead, you get lost in the middle of nowhere with a madman on the loose. It’s your own fault! It was sad to witness how easily she gave in to Doug’s every whim, how much she leaned on him for every aspect of her life, to the point that she no longer even had friends in her corner. And she certainly didn’t question enough.

However, I can say that without this honeymoon from hell she wouldn’t have the very visible character growth throughout. She goes from someone who is unsure of their every decision, to a woman who is firm and independent and sure of herself. It’s a wonderful change.

 

 

 

Doug

Honestly, he is everything that I don’t like in male MCs. He gets his way, or no one wins. His friends are creepy, he’s creepy and he completely overpowers Natalie. Okay, to be fair, it is clear that he really does love her, but yikes, let up a little. I didn’t trust him from the very beginning, but he does make up for it in his defense of Nat.

He’s one of those characters that you have to give a chance before making a judgment.

 

 

 

Mia

This. Little. Girl. She is an eyeroll in human form. Honestly, youth makes you reckless and cocky, but Jesus! Mia is Natalie’s precocious (almost) thirteen-year-old niece; they both dote on each other and so she is the first one to realize that something is amiss with her aunt’s honeymoon trip. Unfortunately, she rubbed me the wrong way throughout the entire story, which made her vital role as a story driver a tad annoying for me. I could, however, appreciate the change in her at the end of the novel.

On the positive side, I can say that her determination to find Nat and Doug was admirable.

 

 

Kurt

There is so much wrong with him as a person. As a character though? Well done Jenny! He is just what you want an antagonist to be: unlikeable with a logic so skewed that you can’t help but wonder how they function on a daily basis. Yet their logic is almost always fully understandable if you put yourself in their shoes. When he goes into his childhood trauma, you can’t help but understand why he is so broken as an adult. I wouldn’t go so far as saying I want to save him or hug him because he took his childhood to an unacceptable extreme, but I understand. 

I could definitely have stood to have more time in his head, as creepy as it was to experience.

 

 

 

The plot

 

From the very beginning, the idea of this story gripped me. The idea of a couple of newlyweds going on an adventure to start their new life together and somehow having to fight for their survival is intriguing to me. I was curious as to how something goes so far left that returning to civilization is a question rather than a certainty.

The plot jumps between three different POVs: Natalie, Mia and Kurt, the most intriguing of which was Kurt’s. However, the three different narrators gave the story a level of uncertainty as, for most of the story, neither of the narrators was experiencing the same things. Mia was our lead investigator back in the real world, Natalie and Doug were preoccupied with surviving while Kurt was…Kurt.

As far as plots and the formula for a good plot goes, this one works. Every time you something major is about to happen you can feel it. The moments when you think things are finally working in our couple’s favor, your hope is dashed, and I LOVED it! All in all, I’m here for it.

That hidden element, the driving force behind choosing the Adirondack as a honeymoon location, caught me off guard. Guaranteed, you will be too because by the time it comes up you’ll be so focused on Nat and Doug’s race for survival. It’s like a little bonus plotline for you.

 

 

 

 

My thoughts

 

 

Kurt is certifiable, and not a ‘haha he’s just a little socially inept’ way (not that mental illness is EVER funny), in a ‘this man has gone too far to see how wrong his actions are’ way, so the way his storyline ends is a little unsatisfying for me. I wanted him to suffer more than he did, live HIS worst nightmare a little bit.

I also need to mention that this is not a situation that I could ever see myself getting into. EVER! Like, no judgment to people who love camping in the middle of ABSOLUTE nowhere, but that ain’t for me. On top of that, for this to be your honeymoon plan? Nope. Next. Nah. Honeymoons are for enjoying each other, not expending your energy paddling rivers.

The writing was enjoyable enough, with some lines that made me want to make quote prints and hang them all over my room. You could get lost in this world if you wanted to, I think. I just wish there was more of the world to get lost in, and less returning to civilization. Civilization is not what I signed up for, give me more wilderness!

 

 


TL;DR: The idea is intriguing, so if you don’t mind having a particularly obnoxious thirteen-year-old as a story driver, then go right ahead. But, if you’re here for a wilderness survival thriller…be warned, it’s not all you’ll be getting. There’s duplicity, family drama and questionable decision-making throughout.

 

Goodreads: 3.66

BN: 4.5

Amazon: 4.1

My rating: 3.5 doing-too-much stars.

One thought on “ARC Review: Wicked River by Jenny Milchman

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