"Inhuman" is Kat Falls' first foray into young adult literature. She certainly hits a home run on her first try. "Inhuman" is the story of a future where genetic modification has gone horribly wrong. A virus has killed millions and turned millions more into feral, mindless savages.
A wall west of the Mississippi River divides the country into the infected (or at risk of being infected) and those who live west of the wall and are safe and virus-free. Lane, the teen-aged protagonist, is a kind person who believes in the innate worth of all living beings. From the first page, the reader knows that even though Lane lives on the safe side, she is fascinated by the wall and what lies over it.
When her father is away on one of his mysterious business trips, she is arrested and told that she must find him. What happens next changes not only everything she had learned about the Feral Zone, but changes her life.
The story moves quickly, and the reader is hooked immediately. Lane's character is real -- smart and spunky, courageous and compassionate, curious and caring. On her adventure, she meets two guys who are complete opposites -- but both are very attractive.
Rafe, a guy who had grown up in the Feral Zone, is hardened by living with the very real threat of being bitten by a feral person and contracting the virus. He wears his scars from fighting the crazy creatures like medals. Everson, a soldier, grew up in the safety of the west. He has no scars, but he is intelligent and well-trained, and he wants to find a cure for the virus.
Falls is a very talented writer. She creates a menagerie (literally) of fantastic (as in fantasy) creatures that will allow readers to imagine beautiful -- and sometimes horrendously ugly -- mixtures of humans and animals, and animals and other animals.
While the idea of a country ravaged by plague, wild areas, and a brave hero venturing into dangerous lands on some important mission is not new, Falls manages to make it her own. Her characters are unforgettable, her creatures imaginative, her story compelling.
Like many authors, Falls is kind enough to provide an ending to the first book while still making it clear that the story continues. This reviewer cannot wait for the next book in the series.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Scholastic Press, for review purposes.
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