Fiona doesn’t remember going to sleep. But when she opens her eyes, she discovers her entire world has been altered—her house is abandoned and broken, and the entire neighborhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right hand—a black oval with five marks on either side—that she doesn’t remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. She’s right.
Those bearing the tattoo have turned into mindless, violent beasts that roam the streets and sewers, preying upon the unbranded while a select few live protected inside a fortress-like wall, their lives devoted to rebuilding society and killing all who bear the mark.
Now Fiona has awakened branded, alone—and on the wrong side of the wall.
Wow. Wow. Wow! This is a phenomenal novel; it’s an absolutely amazing, glued to my seat, wonderful, can’t get enough, kind of read. But that cover? Oh. God. Someone please tell me they’re going to change that cover. Truth: it’s hideous. And, it doesn’t make me want to read the novel. You can put a synopsis in front of me, and it might be the best synopsis in the world, but if the cover stinks, I’m only going to do a cursory glance before I move on. Not pick it up, not fall in love with it, just pass it over. Let’s be honest: we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Ever. Nope. But we do. It’s human nature. If I’m in a bookstore with thousands of books to choose from, what book is going to stop me and get me to pick it up to read the synopsis? One with a magnificent cover. This book, unfortunately, is not it. I would pass it by in a heartbeat, and so would my students in book club… I showed them a picture and they vetoed the novel before I even told them what it’s about!!! They thought it was about bees and being stung. Which, I guess in a way it is, but… it’s soooooooo much better than that. So, to the powers that be, please do the author justice and change the cover so more copies of this magnificent story fly off the shelves and are eaten up by readers. Seriously. Okay, rant ended.
I absolutely adored this spectacular novel. As you can probably tell from the above rant, I wasn’t expecting much going in, but I received a free copy of Stung at NCTE this past November, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. And boy, was I glad I did!
The fight or flight mantra throughout the entire novel kept me on my toes, especially as the story unfolded and it became apparent that Fiona and Bowen were in so much more danger than I originally thought. And the characterization? Well, Fiona is a great character! I loved her struggle with her memory loss, and the mystery surrounding her was intense and fascinating! But Fiona isn’t the only character I enjoyed; I loved them all! I highly enjoyed getting to know every single one, from the creepy sewer dweller to the militia men, these characters are awesome, well fleshed out, vivid, and real! And as events unfolded, the sincere fear and stress I felt for the characters put my heart in my throat—I couldn’t put it down, and I just love that this entire novel, from start to finish, is shrouded in mystery. As the reader, we don’t know why Fiona has the mark, why she’s sane and others with the mark are not, why she woke up four years older than when she went to sleep, or why she has a connection to Bowen from the very beginning. But as the story fleshes out, we’re given glimpses into the past, which helps us connect the dots leading up to the grand finale that had me whooping for joy. This is just a great read all around, and I loved that it kept me guessing throughout. I wasn’t expecting the reveals Wiggins provided, and I really liked them; the answers made sense in this not so distant future world, and as the puzzle pieces came together, the novel continued to blow me away. This is a must read. Five stars.
Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books has been extremely gracious in giving me an ARC of this novel for review prior to its release on April 2, 2013.