Force of Nature by Jane Harper – Aaron Falk #2

After the success of The Dry, I knew I would definitely be adding this series to my TBR list. I have anxiously been waiting to get my hands on this book, but I was unable to read it for the longest time because of my other commitments. But I finally did it! Here is my review:

34275222Summary (Goodreads): Five women go on a hike. Only four return. Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, asks: How well do you really know the people you work with?

When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path.

But one of the women doesn’t come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated forest, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains, and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?

Review: I’m going to start by saying this: The Dry was better. At least, that’s how I felt.

When I started reading this novel, I was hoping to have the same experience as I had with The Dry: great characters, deeply layered plot, and that buildup of tension that makes a thriller oh-so-juicy. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel any of that. This story is all about how Aaron and Cameron are looking for one of the missing women from the camping trip, who is actually their main point of contact in a fraud investigation.

But they don’t really do much.

This novel is full of Aaron walking around and thinking. Sitting in a hotel room and thinking. Driving and thinking. And he’s mostly thinking about his father and their relationship. I’ll be honest, it was quite boring. I wanted to see some active investigation going on. But there really was none. Other people were going out into the wilderness to look for the missing camper. Aaron and Cameron didn’t really go out and ask too many important questions from the other witnesses. They just talked to each other a lot, and to their bosses who only said “Get the contracts”; it was the most used phrase in the book and it drove me insane pretty quickly.

The actual interesting part of the story began around Chapter 20 for me – and this is a book with only 35 chapters. I struggled to push through to get to this point because nothing really happened. But then when I got to the end, it wasn’t that great, either. There’s such a short list of suspects that it wasn’t too hard to guess. And it all just lacked that thrill factor/twist that I was looking for.

The only thing I really loved about this book was the writing style. Each chapter was divided such that the first bit would be taking place in the present, and the second half would be recounting what had happened in the wilderness with the women, from each of their perspectives. Needless to say, I liked the latter half. The author did a fantastic job in creating a creepy vibe. I’m someone who is not very comfortable with camping and is terrified of being out in the wilderness by myself, so every time one of the women experienced fear, I felt it, too.

I also didn’t really like the characters. There just wasn’t that connection that I wanted and even though the author tried to give them backstories and substance, they fell flat for me.

In general, this novel didn’t live up to my expectations and wasn’t as good as the first book in the series. Nevertheless, I will continue to read books by this author. There is potential here, and I’m willing to give the series a shot. But for this novel, I’m giving it a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~


The River At Night by Erika Ferencik

I’ve been looking for an interesting thriller to read and this one has been on my TBR list for a while. Now that I’m on vacation, I thought this would be a good opportunity to catch up and reduce that list as much as I possibly can. So here is my review:

Wini likes to play things safe, but when her friends decide to celebrate their middle-aged life by doing something drastic, she decides to take the plunge. Wini and her friends decide to go to Maine to do some white water rafting, something that none of them have any experience with. A fun trip quickly turns into a horrific nightmare as the women find themselves trapped in the wilderness with no way out.

I recently read another novel that deals with survival, a YA fiction called Feel Me Fall. Compared to that, this one was a softie. This novel had a lot of positive aspects to it: it had a great premise, and an interesting friendship group. But with all of that potential, I felt that the action was lacking. The beginning started off great, and I found myself intrigued with where the story was going. However, as the story continued, I found that there needed to be more action happening. That kind of made the story fall for me a bit. Overall, this was an interesting story but it needed way more action to carry it through until the end.

Happy reading ~

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

I’ve been very excited to read this novel. Ever since I read Wake of Vultures and Conspiracy of Ravens, I’ve become more interested in the idea of reading novels with an American West style. This novel presented me with the opportunity to explore this as well as just having a super interesting premise.

Elka was rescued by a solitary hunter when she was just seven years old. He took her under his wing and taught her everything he knew about surviving in the wilderness. She called him Trapper, and he was her daddy in all ways but by blood. But when Elka sees a Wanted poster with his picture on it in town, her life is destroyed. Her Trapper – Kreager Hallet – is not who she thought he was; he has been accused of murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon has noticed Elka and wants to talk to her about Kreager. Elka flees the town and the home she has lived in with Trapper in search of her real parents. But the wilderness that surrounds her is a cruel place, and no one can be trusted. With Lyon on Elka’s heels, it will take everything Elka has to confront her past and move on towards an unknown future. 

I finished this book in the span of a few hours, it was that good! I loved the pacing, the way Elka talked, and most of all, I loved Elka! She was spunky and damaged and perfect for the world that she inhabited. This story took me on an adventure that I could never have imagined. Right away, in the very beginning of the novel, we are told what happens to Trapper. This took me by surprise, because I thought that was the whole point of the story. Instead, the author takes you on a crazy journey where the character encounters danger in both nature and in areas of “civilization”. This novel definitely makes you reconsider thinking of humans as rational and moral beings that are on a different plane than animals; for the most part, the humans in this story were more dangerous than anything in the wild! The struggles that Elka deals with are formidable and I was constantly in awe of her ability to get through any difficult situation. That isn’t to say she was perfect; she was clearly shook up by each bad turn, and the author did a great job reflecting that through character development. I also liked the introduction of other characters, be they villains or friends. They brought their own depth to the story, and supported the growth and development of Elka’s character. I definitely was not expecting the final ending; it was horrific and shocking and perfectly suited for the gritty nature of this story. The author did make mention of an apocalyptic event that had occurred many years ago, which had changed the environment considerably, but this event had only indirect impact on the story and was perhaps not necessary. Or maybe it was. It didn’t hurt or help, so it doesn’t really matter either way. Overall, a great debut that combines many genre elements perfectly to create an astounding story that will keep you hooked from start to finish!

Happy reading ~