Named one of BuzzFeed’s Best Fiction of 2018“Geni’s character-driven environmental thriller–think Silent Spring by way of Celeste Ng–centers on the survivors of a tornado that destroys an Oklahoma farm and kills the family’s father.” —O, The Oprah Magazine When a Category Five tornado ravaged Mercy, Oklahoma, no family in the small town lost more than the McClouds. Their home and farm were instantly demolished, and orphaned siblings Darlene, Jane, and Cora made media headlines. This relentless national attention in the tornado’s aftermath caused great tension with their brother, Tucker, who soon abandoned his sisters and disappeared. On the three-year anniversary of the tornado, a bomb explodes in a cosmetics factory outside of Mercy, and the lab animals trapped within are released. Tucker reappears, injured from the blast, and seeks the help of nine-year-old Cora. Caught up in the thrall of her charismatic brother, whom she has desperately missed, Cora agrees to accompany Tucker on a cross-country mission to make war on human civilization. Cora becomes her brother’s unwitting accomplice, taking on a new identity while engaging in acts of escalating violence. Darlene works with Mercy police to find her siblings, leading to an unexpected showdown at a zoo in Southern California. The Wildlands is another remarkable literary thriller from critically acclaimed writer Abby Geni, one that examines what happens when one family becomes trapped in the tenuous space between the human and animal worlds.
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ABBY GENI is the author of The Lightkeepers, winner of the 2016 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction and the inaugural Chicago Review of Books Award for Best Fiction, as well as The Last Animal, an Indies Introduce Debut Authors selection and a finalist for the Orion Book Award. Geni is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a recipient of the Iowa Fellowship.
Finalist for the Chicago Review of Books Fiction Award
Named a Best Book of the Fall by Buzzfeed, Refinery 29, Bustle, PopSugar, HuffPost, and Real Simple "Geni's character-driven environmental thriller--think Silent Spring by way of Celeste Ng--centers on the survivors of a tornado that destroys an Oklahoma farm and kills the family's father." --Michelle Hart, O, The Oprah Magazine, 1 of 10 Titles to Pick Up Now "Tantalizing . . . Geni brilliantly captures the magnetism of a fanatic whose diagnosis of society's ills is spot-on but whose conclusions are deranged." --Sarah Courteau, The Washington Post "Abby Geni's haunting literary thriller, The Wildlands, explores humans' relationships with nature and what drives a person to fanaticism." --Real Simple "From the moment Abby Geni's second novel starts, you know you're in good hands . . . Geni spins a careful, humane, moving story . . . The Wildlands is [a novel] filled with rewards for the patient reader." --Charles Finch, USA Today "[An] impressive second novel . . . Geni's genius is that she makes us empathise with every member of this troubled family, and also with the animals Tucker yearns to protect." --Jane Ciabattari, BBC Culture "The Wildlands is moving, funny, surprising, and it invites the reader to ponder humanity's connection to the natural world." --Jenny Shank, Barnes & Noble Reads "It is a moving exploration of humanity: not only the danger of our belief in our supremacy and our power to control our environment, but also the unique power of our love for each other." --Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed "Geni's sophomore novel, like her first, is a moody, pulse-pounding literary thriller." --Claire Fallon, HuffPost "Abby Geni's The Wildlands begins when a category five tornado hits the small town of Mercy, Oklahoma. The plot only accelerates from there. The book swept me into the disjointed psychology of a child convinced to perpetrate acts of eco-terrorism, a culture in which ideology is taken to the extreme. Real urgency animates these pages, as Geni tackles head on the devastating effects of climate change and the realities of living in the anthropocene. Her characters are vibrant and emotionally raw as they navigate a world that is disappearing, its future uncertain for both human and animals alike." --Liz Von Klemperer, Tin House "Find[s] ways to bring us closer to the wildness of life on earth." --Ellie Robins, Outside "Get ready to turn some pages with this new novel from the author of The Lightkeepers." --Cristina Arreola, Bustle "A hypnotizing page-turner." --Elizabeth Entenman, Hello Giggles "Fast-paced and gripping to the last page, The Wildlands is a fascinating look at the tension between activism and fanaticism and between the human and animal worlds." --Sarah Stiefvater, PureWow "Geni's taut story builds to an unreal, awe-inspiring climax that's so well-crafted, you'll believe it wholeheartedly." --PopSugar "This is enough calamity to fuel a whole book, but it's only the beginning as The Wildlands clips along with its eventful plot, detailed in sensitive prose that ponders nature, adaptation, survival and the mysteries of family ties . . . Geni creates arresting tableaus of nature juxtaposed with the trappings of modern life as a wild spree sets horses, dogs, ostriches and polar bears loose across Texas, New Mexico and California." --Jenny Shank, The Dallas Morning News "The tension throughout the book makes it hard to put down. The story also says a lot about sibling relationships, hope and the idea of happy endings . . . If you like a well-told story, you must read The Wildlands." --Betty Martin, KRCU's Martin's Must-Reads "With skillful prose, you'll sympathize with Cora, a girl who must learn how to differentiate between love and family." --Sophie Matthews, Women.com "A tornado, family drama and eco-terrorism in Abby Geni's new thriller The Wildlands suck you in from the novel's devastating opening until you are deposited in an entirely different mental place at the end. Geni is a masterful storyteller." --Newcity Lit "From the start of Abby Geni's second novel The Wildlands, you know you're in good hands . . . A careful, humane, moving story." --Today News "Geni . . . challeng[es] readers to consider more deeply how our actions affect those around us . . . Geni also offers a less passive vision of nature: Coyotes are 'shy and clever'; horses run with 'intensity and purpose'; animals consider their surroundings, communicate, make choices. In zoos, they lose their minds. Such a vision of nature, dismissed by most scientists until Jane Goodall, has primarily been the province of children's stories and myth. The Wildlands borrows from both: an existential battle for the future of life, seen through the eyes of a child. In an age of mass extinction, Geni suggests, we need new narratives to grapple with a crisis that can sometimes feel too big to wrap our heads around . . . A humble respect for the vulnerable, a resolve to fight for all life--and a commitment to love and support one another, through fire and storm." --In These Times "[A] remarkable achievement . . . Geni's novel is a standout. This is a book to watch out for--and to read." --Bradley Sides, Electric Literature "In exquisite prose, Geni renders the ecstasy and anguish of familial love, and the ways it can lead us to the edges of who we imagine ourselves to be. A savage, glittering novel." --Megan Kruse, author of Call Me Home "Every scene of this cleverly plotted novel is drawn with complex prose, rich detail, and an authorial voice that wisely observes the human animal. Abby Geni is my new favorite writer." --Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters "Fast-paced and breathtaking, The Wildlands will transfix you from its opening natural disaster to its shocking and violent climax. In Abby Geni's hands, even a haircut becomes suspenseful. This book grabs you and won't let go." --David James Poissant, author of The Heaven of Animals "In a novel with a locomotive plot and an urgent political timeliness, it's a true testament to Abby Geni's authorial prowess and big heart that the most memorable thing about this book is the love and determination of a family beset by tragedy. You'll be a better, wiser person after you read this book. You'll also be thrilled, from first page to last." --Peter Geye, author of Wintering "Geni's (The Lightkeepers, 2016) fascination with the borders between human and animal drives this distinctive sophomore novel . . . Geni continues to create works of art with perfect voices that are simultaneously thrillers and meditations on nature. It is an incredible trick." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "[An] acute and affecting follow-up to Geni's award-winning debut novel, The Lightkeepers . . . Throughout, Geni enfolds multiple themes: how the well-intentioned can go horribly wrong, how childhood experiences shape us, and what family love really means and how it can vie with principle. Revealing its secrets gradually and dealing gracefully with tough issues, Geni's work will satisfy a wide range of fiction readers." --Library Journal (starred review) "Geni extends her signature and deeply unnerving exploration of the permeable line between wildness and civilization in this teeth-gritting tale of a young man broken by grief and rage and a trusting child turned fugitive, a girl disguised as a boy whose identity is scrambled and life endangered . . . Geni's masterfully precise and harrowing depictions of emotional and physical suffering culminate in a surreal and catastrophic showdown involving a California zoo. In this staggering tale of loss intimate and ecological, Geni joins T. C. Boyle, Barbara Kingsolver, Annie Proulx, and Hannah Tinti in portraying humankind as both the planet's most dangerous predator and one of myriad species vulnerable to ecodisasters of our own unintended devising. Riveting, provocative, and unforgettable." --Booklist (starred review) "Disasters both natural and personal are at the heart of Geni's bold and adventurous latest . . . The novel is particularly notable for its interrogations of human relationships with the natural world, in keeping with Geni's previous works. This is a fast-paced, high-stakes novel that will keep the reader turning the pages." --Publishers Weekly "Geni . . . is an astonishing storyteller who brings the sub-baked plains of Ohio to life on every page. The narrative toggles seamlessly between Darlene, a girl forced to grow up overnight, and Cora, a girl torn between her adulation for her long-absent older brother and her increasing awareness of his danger to her. The Wildlands is perfectly of its time, when humans are more alert than ever to our impact on the world around us." --BookPage