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Lauren Smith
A Wilderness Within
Emma Castle, author
The world he knows and loves is gone… Lincoln Atwood survived the contagion that wiped out the nine tenths of humanity. As the last survivor in a secret government bunker and a Delta Force soldier, he knows that the other survivors are scared, angry and dangerous, just like him. After weeks alone with the mummified bodies of his colleagues, he escapes the bunker. But the world outside has changed. Among the empty cities and crumbling ruins of civilization, he loses himself to the wilderness in his soul. When he sees Caroline, a fellow survivor, she is vision of light in a world gone dark. He wants to help her, but she won't trust him, when there's danger around every corner. How can he convince her that fate has brought them together? She will not go quietly into the night… Caroline Kelly survived hell when she escaped quarantined Chicago in search of her family after the outbreak. But it's not as easy to travel from Illinois to Missouri with the world gone dark in the space of three months. The last she thing she needs is to get captured by a muscled, bearded mountain man who looks and acts like a damn super soldier. When it’s clear she can’t escape him, she finds herself becoming fascinated with the brooding, intense man who knows how to survive. He makes her heart race and blood pound. When tragedy strikes, Caroline realizes she might have a plan to save the world, but she’ll need Lincoln’s help. Can she trust Lincoln not only with humanity’s future, but also her heart?
Plot/Idea: 6 out of 10
Originality: 5 out of 10
Prose: 7 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 6.25 out of 10


Plot: Reminiscent of the novel Contagion, the medieval plague, and the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic, this gripping novel is stirringly relevant. References to China backed by conspiracy theory supercharge the plot with frightening reality.

Prose/Style: The ability to harness attention with explosive descriptive phrases catapults every terrifying scene into a surreal catastrophic realm. A tad overdone but implemented with precision, each word strives for heightened emotion and maximum impact.

Originality: A blatant allusion to the havoc of the 2020 coronavirus places parts of this novel in a blurry faction zone—a fictionalized account of real events combined with a fabricated plot line. An intriguing but familiar scenario, it is not original, nor is it taking strides beyond other literary works triggered by the concept of or the actual occurrence of widespread diseases.

Character Development: Amid the book’s riveting action is a sweet romance and tender introspection that allow for character development beyond the shallow cardboard figures that often appear in thrillers. Set against a life-altering global event followed by an apocalyptic aftermath, the protagonists step forward with empathetic human traits.

Date Submitted: April 01, 2020

Audiobook rights sold

Tantor purchased the audiobook rights spring 2020