Stung (Stung #1)
Author: Bethany Wiggins
Publisher: Walker Books/Bloomsbury
Published: April 2013
Hardcover/Paperback/Kindle/ebook: 304 pages
Genre: YA Dystopian
Reviewed by: Shanda
FTC FYI: checked out from my local library
There is no cure for being stung.
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.
Stung opens with Fiona, aka “Fo,” waking up in her bedroom, but things are not the same. Everything looks old. Faded. Abandoned. She soon realizes she is not alone in the house and finds herself running for her life. She is hungry, thirsty, and lost in a world that should be familiar but is far from what she remembers.
Fiona must rely on strangers to help her understand what is happening until she is captured by the militia and finds herself a prisoner. The others are afraid of her, the level ten “beast.” They are expecting her to turn on them at any moment. Even the camp’s “Guardian,” her former neighbor Dreyden Bowen, is nervous and jumpy despite the electronic shackles on her arms and legs.
As time passes and Fiona proves to Dreyden that she isn’t an insane monster, memories begin to surface regarding events leading to the current state of the world. With everyone after the valuable honey they can get from turning Fiona in to the fighting pits or the lab, she and Dreyden decide to make a run to the haven of Wyoming. Unfortunately, things don’t go to plan.
I really enjoyed Shifting, Bethany’s first novel, so I was excited to read Stung. My curiosity was piqued from the beginning, wondering how Fiona got outside the wall and into her old bedroom. There is some good suspense right at first and it pulled me in. The descriptions of the tunnels and Arris/Arrin are effective. The unpleasantness of Fiona’s situation is easy to imagine, which means you probably shouldn’t eat while reading parts of Stung.
I liked Dreyden, though he wasn’t kind at first when he expected Fiona to rip him apart. It was confusing when his brother was talked about or present though, because they were both addressed as their last name “Bowen,” even in Fiona’s head. I think it would have been easier to have her consistently think of them as Dreyden and Duncan in her thoughts.
The story kept my interest. I wanted to know more about events leading up to the current situation, and the occasional memory/flashback provided that. It wasn’t until near the end that a few things gave me pause. They could be considered spoilers, though. If you want to read them, highlight that area between the dashed lines below.
After the fighting in the pit was interrupted by Dreyden, things started feeling rushed, almost in a “let’s-hurry-and-wrap-this-up-in-a-bow” way. It’s possible that all the work and struggle leading up to that point made it seem like the finish was a little too easy. Maybe it’s just me. Probably it’s just me. For that as well as the your-kisses-are-keeping-him-alive thing that felt out-of-the-blue. It does kind of go with the Sleeping Beauty twist, but I didn’t really like how that suddenly came about. It almost felt….cheesy. And I really hate saying that, because the rest of the book wasn’t anything close to cheesy.
I will be reading book two, Cured, scheduled for release on March 13, 2014. I’m looking forward to another look at the post bee-extinction world. Watch for my review of Cured in the coming weeks. Recommended for adults and teens ages 15+ who enjoy YA Dystopian.
Language: There may have been one mild swear word, but I don’t think there were any more than that
Sexual: Kissing, no graphic descriptions; no sex; one character refers to a woman’s breasts as “knockers”
Violence: Fighting; gun use; threats with and use of a knife; a few characters are cut and shot; fighting match in a pit; descriptions of injuries; character deaths
Drug use: None that I can remember, besides treating wounds
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