Forager by Peter R. Stone
Genre: YA, dystopia
Published: 2013, November by Amazon Digital Services
Formats Available: Kindle or Paperback
My rating: 3 thumbs up!
A big thank you to the author, Peter R Stone and Alana Munro from Reach For the Stars for this opportunity. I received Forager for free to honestly review. My opinion of the book is not influenced by this.
Eighteen-year-old Ethan Jones lives in Newhome, a town built upon the decaying ruins of post-apocalyptic Melbourne, ruins haunted by the ferocious Skel, a nomadic tribe of degenerate savages.
The Skel are ramping up their attacks on Newhome’s foraging teams and infesting Melbourne’s ruins in ever greater numbers. Is this part of a larger plan that could spell the town’s doom?
Meanwhile, the last thing Ethan expects when he and his companions rescue a two-car convoy from the Skel is a Japanese teenage girl with an outlandish dress-sense, who after they take her back to Newhome, goes to great lengths to ingratiate herself into his life. But is it in gratitude for saving her life or is she seeking something more?
And what a quandry she places him in, for he knows the rules, that no man is permitted to be alone with an unmarried woman. But how can he drive such a gentle soul away when she touches his heart so deeply, even though she clearly carries the pain of a broken heart.
At the same time, Newhome’s police force, the Custodians, are suspicious of Ethan’s foraging team’s successes and are pulling out the stops to find out which member of his team has the illegal mutant ability that gives them an edge over the other teams.
Should these peacekeepers discover Ethan is the mutant they seek, they will haul him away and dissect him like a frog.
Website/Blog Link: Forager
A dystopian set in Australia? In the lovable Melbourne no less! How could I say no to reading this! Forager was not what I expected though. I’m of mixed opinions about how I feel. There were some things that I really liked, but there were also things I feel could have been improved.
The story is set after a war that wiped out most of the human population from earth. Some survived, which have made their own small communities spread out for survival. These communities are in desperate need for resources such as metals, which are foraged from the ruined cities. The story follows the head of one of these groups, who happens to have abilities due to mutations. He has to hide these abilities though, because they could get him killed. This is combined with a missing memory, a cute, mysterious Japanese girl and scary people who run around wearing armour made of human bones.
I’ll kick off with what I liked – I especially liked the setting. An Australian dystopian is definitely for me! There really aren’t enough YA books set in Australia. However, I feel as though this could have been expanded upon in the description; as in, there was nothing to tell the setting apart from any other ruined city in the entire world. I mean, c’mon, this is Melbourne! I’ve been to this city, and I fell in love with it. I know it’s been destroyed, but I’m sure that some significant sights that sets it somewhat apart from everywhere else could have been identified, right? Like NY has it’s Lady of Liberty? What about some ripped up Tram rails? Or unique Aussie art found in the cool museums down there? Or an intact wall of that awesome street art?
Maybe I’m too pro Australia. I just really wanted something to distinguish it from everywhere else.
Now, back to the actual story. I also liked the idea of mutated humans. I thought Ethan’s abilities were quite cool. I liked that this was well thought out, too. With every possible plot hole covered and filled in. Also, his abilities are detailed, which is great because you can tell the author did his research. It also gives us a great imagery and picture when trying to imagine it
I didn’t like that the plot didn’t really follow this idea through – it mostly focused on his missing memory and love life. I wish the plot focused more on Ethan’s abilities and why people like him disappear. Maybe it will in the books to come. I personally think Ethan’s love life and memory loss would have done much better as a side plot to add depth to the story. This is because I felt as though Forager was missing something to push it along. The pace was sort of jumpy and I never really knew where it was going. A more focused goal and plot would have fixed this issue.
I liked the characters in Forager, though I did not connect to them. Ethan is very likeable. Maybe a little too perfect and nice at times, making him not as relatable, but still likeable. Same goes for the love interest; she was a little too perfect for my tastes. They both could have done with a little more character development to really explore their positive and negative character attributes. All I got was that Ethan has a little anger management problem.
I did really like the character dynamics, though. This was shown especially well in the forager group. The friendship felt realistic and I got a real sense of camaraderie between them. I felt for the group of boys when they started to fall apart, but it was a good thing because it kept things real, showing the flaws and cracks in everything. The best books are when these flaws are shown, but the characters can still overcome them.
Dialogue and language were a major issue I faced with Forager – especially when it came to Ethan. Ethan is portrayed as a slightly rebellious, strong, leader material and brave – but his language and the way he spoke did not match his personality. It actually felt really unnatural and odd. Even stranger, this changed a quarter way in. At first it felt natural, then his sentences turn overly formal and unusual. This was even odder because the other characters kept their natural dialogue (or what they had from the beginning).
I won’t give anything away, but I cringed when the word “wife” came out of a certain character’s mouth. It just felt completely wrong for such a young, vibrant person to talk like he’s 30 and settling down. (This is completely in my perspective, though, maybe some people are cool with that).
Overall, Forager has mixed feelings from me. It’s one of those books I liked, but could have been improved easily. If the plot was a little more focused, a deeper character development and the dialogue was worked on more, then this easily could have increased the rating by one or two. Otherwise, Forager has a rating of 3 from me, and I would recommend any young dystopian readers to give it a go.
Peter Stone, an avid student of history, was reading books on Ancient Greece from the age of four. His periods of interest include the ancient world, medieval era, Napoleonic times, and the Second World War. He still mourns the untimely passing of King Leonidas of Sparta and Field Marshal Michel Ney of France.
A child of the Cold War Generation, Peter Stone studied the ramifications of a nuclear missile strike when he was in his senior year of high school, learning the effects of nuclear fallout and how to (hopefully) survive it. He has ever been drawn to post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels and films, and eagerly devoured The Day of the Triffids and John Christopher’s Tripod Trilogy when he was a child.
Peter Stone graduated from Melbourne School of Ministries Bible College in 1988. He has been teaching Sunday School and playing the keyboard in church for over twenty-five years. His wife is from Japan and they have two wonderful children. Peter Stone has worked in the same games company for over twenty years, but still does not comprehend why they expect him to work all day instead of playing games.