Review: Wandering Wild by Jessica Taylor

Title: Wandering Wild
Author : Jessica Taylor
Genre : Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication Date : May 3rd, 2016
Publisher : Sky Pony Press
| Goodreads | Amazon


“I believe in possibility. Of magic, of omens, of compasses, of love. Some of it’s a little bit true.”

Sixteen-year-old Tal is a Wanderer—a grifter whose life is built around the sound of wheels on the road, the customs of her camp, and the artful scams that keep her fed. With her brother, Wen, by her side, it’s the only life she’s ever known. It’s the only one she’s ever needed.

Then in a sleepy Southern town, the queen of cons picks the wrong mark when she meets Spencer Sway—the clean-cut Socially Secured boy who ends up hustling her instead of the other way around. For the first time, she sees a reason to stay. As her obligations to the camp begin to feel like a prison sentence, the pull to leave tradition behind has never been so strong.

But the Wanderers live by signs, and all the signs all say that Tal and Spencer will end only in heartache and disaster. Is a chance at freedom worth almost certain destruction?



Reading Wandering Wild was a task.  It was annoying to struggle through the writing, and it was painful to trudge through a story that didn’t hold my interest beyond the first couple of chapters.  The characters were flat, and their motives were ambiguous, and much like the story itself, they drifted without a true destination for themselves.  After all of this criticism, I should have rated the book lesser 3 stars, and yet I can’t.  I was strangely looking forward to reading more and more about them.  God help me, I was entertained.

Wandering Wild has a new concept, I’ll give it that.  The exception may have failed completely, but the basic idea of the book was more or less a rarely explored notion in YA, thereby giving the book an edge.  I bet curiosity will cause many people to pick up the book, but the content may not be able to hold their interest for very long.

The book is about a group of grifters, who never stay in one place for too long.  Identifying themselves as “Wanderers,” the forests are their hideouts (where they make camps), and hustling, scheming and stealing are their only means of livelihood.  The book revolves around the “compass” of the camp—Talia, and her younger brother Wen.  Talia has a special gift, she guides the camp to where they should go next, where the Spirit of The Falcon—the first Wanderer—wants them to go.  Wherever Talia says they go, the camp goes.  But, unfortunately, this is the only interesting fact about Talia.  She was a pain in my ass the entire time, and since the book was entirely in her POV, you my see why this book wasn’t my favourite.  For a girl who had lived the Wanderer life for sixteen years, Talia was very impulsive and reckless.  She lived in so much danger and the fear of being caught was always at the forefront of camp life, and yet she didn’t seem to take the threat very seriously.  It was weird, and completely unexpected.

So our love interest, Spencer Sway, was…lame.  (Look at me defaulting to 13-year old vocabulary to describe this cardboard of a character.)  Spencer had involved, supportive, loving parents, but his main issue throughout the book was how he couldn’t bear to tell them that the plan they had for him was exactly that.  Their plan, not his. See also: loving, supportive parents.  All through the book, I just wanted to throw something at him and shake him and scream at him to TALK TO THEM, but no.  It was a sorry part of a plot that had already given me a headache.  The book was also slow.  S-l-o-wwwww.  I was waiting for something interesting to happen, anything to happen, and oh God it was excruciating.  So much could have happened, there were so many possibilities, and yet the path taken was a half-assed love story with no head and no tail.  I cared not a shit for the romance, I didn’t give a flying fuck about all their issues, and I don’t even know how I managed to read Wandering Wild in its entirety.

The only one thing I remotely cared about were the camp traditions and customs.  I loved that they had a history, certain rules, a certain history.  Unfortunately, this part of the book was not explored as much in detail as I’d have liked.  I wished the book focused more on the camp, their myths and their way of life.  In my opinion, the whole love story angle wrecked the story unsalvageable   Finally, the ending.  THAT ENDING.  It was such a huuuuge disappointment, I don’t believe it got past the editorial team!  There were too many plot holes, so many questions left unanswered, and if the book is a standalone (which, for now, it is), then the ending was unacceptable and provides no sense of closure at all.  About my recommendation, I’d say this book is best skipped.  And let’s hope for a better, more sorted sequel, if at all that ever happens.    blackdots




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