Review: The Prey by Tom Isbell
Genre: Young Adult, Survival, Dystopian
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
After the Omega (the end of the end), 16 year old guys known as LTs discover their overseers are raising them not to be soldiers (lieutenants) as promised, but to be sold as bait because of their Less Than status and hunted for sport. They escape and join forces with a girls’ camp, the Sisters, who have been imprisoned and experimented on for the "good of the Republic," by a government eager to use twins in their dark research. In their plight for freedom, these heroes must find the best in themselves to fight against the worst in their enemies.
*Copy reviewed provided by publisher. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way for providing them.
The Prey by Tom Isbell was one of my most anticipated reads of 2015. Sure the book was a debut and the reviews pouring in were less than stellar but that didn't deter me from reading this one nonetheless. Unfortunately, I should have listened to the crowd. While I certainly enjoyed The Prey, it was not the hard hitting, pulse pounding, dystopian I was hoping for and here's why:
Unnecessary Romance - This story could have easily held it's own as a story of survival in an unjust world, it didn't need any romantic entanglements to weigh it down. Yet, after Hope meets Book, the story goes from that of survival to one where the main female lead is fixated on the guy she meets for literally two seconds. It was so frustrating watching this strong female lead turn into a pile of mush just because a boy was around. Worse she seems wholly incapable of making any decisions without thinking of him first. It was frustrating and destroyed what could of been a great character in Hope.
Lack of Answers - OK, sure, I'll give the Author credit for revealing what happened to the world (Bombs bad mmkay) and for giving us a small morsel of insight into how the country became divided afterward but beyond that, I was left with plenty of burning questions left unanswered. Such as but not limited to, Why were the camps created? Why were only female twins experimented on? Who were the hunters and why did they feel it OK to hunt humans for sport? What role did Faith & Hope's Father play in all this? Who was the man in orange? Did the females have deformities as well? Are all twins experimented on or just those unlucky few? Was everyone a minority? How did the old farmer evade notice for presumably years but then is found within a few short hours after the kids make a break for it? And the list goes on.....
Flat Personalities - You know what I hate? When I can't distinguish between characters because they lack any sort of personality. The cast in this story is 28 strong (excluding the Adults) so you'd think the Author would work hard making all those bodies distinguishable from one another. Though, I guess that's asking too much because nope, most were background props and when they did speak it was mostly just to shout "Look Out!" or "They're Coming!". The only character who I could pick out 100% of the time when talking was Cat and that's probably because he didn't say much in the first place so when he did it was noticeable.
The Ending - After all the trials and tribulations this group went through they literally give it all up with salvation mere footsteps away. I just can't wrap my head around it. At the very least this should have taken place in the next book after they had been able to rest a few and taken time to formulate some sort of plan. I mean these kids survived by pure luck the first go round so really it would be foolish to attempt the journey not just one more time but twice!
Overall, while I liked The Prey enough to keep reading, I can't help but be disappointed in how events in the story played out. The Prey had so much potential for greatness but instead of acting on them it relied on old tropes seen time and time again in other stories. So I guess that begs the question, Would I recommend The Prey? Yes, although if I'm being honest just barely. With so many books to choose from in the world today it is hard to recommend one with so many pitfalls such as this. Though I will add that it will be interesting to see if things improve in the sequel. I've seen it happen before so I have hope things can get better.
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Tom Isbell is an actor-author-professor. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, he has acted in theater, film, and TV, working opposite Robert De Niro, Ed Harris, Sarah Jessica Parker, and others. Currently a theater professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, he has had three of his plays produced by the Theater for Young Audiences at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, including Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major, which was adapted into a book with then–First Lady Laura Bush penning the foreword. Tom and his wife, Pat, live in Duluth, Minnesota.
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