A camping trip gone wrong as a mysterious stranger and an ominous competition leave three friends in a race for survival.
Chris, Kevin and Kate wake up in a rugged wilderness far from their planned campsite. Their gear nowhere to be found, the three friends are left to make do with nothing but a pack of matches, water canteen, and strange devices displaying a fast approaching countdown fastened around their wrists.
In their search for answers and a way home, the friends quickly discover that navigating their new surroundings is the least of their problems. Not only are the friends not alone, but they appear to be part of an elaborate hunting expedition, and they're the targets.
The race for survival forces the campers to lean on their skill, wit, and instinct to evade pursuit while digging deep within themselves to discover what they're capable of as they try to escape the deadly game.
The reader only learns brief biographical details about each character, but gets to spend some time in all their heads (including those of the hunters), experiencing how they think, what about the environment or other people jumps out at them, and how they respond to challenges. Readers won’t get deeply attached to them, but that’s not the point; the point is the puzzle Michael has masterfully crafted. In this deadly game of strategy and luck, which accidental discovery, unexpected misfortune, or moment of canny thinking will make the difference between life and death?
Michael’s narrative is intensely suspenseful from the very first page, with surprises, challenges, and suspicions popping up at a clip. True to his intention to bring the pace and excitement of video games to the page, this book moves fast and breaks things. This gripping novel will keep adventure fans on the edge of their seats.
Takeaway: This survival adventure will keep readers on the edge of their seats with their mental wheels turning.
Great for fans of: Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, Pamela Fagan Hutchins’s Switchback.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A
Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Apex is an adventure thriller for young and new adults written by Tyler Michael. If anyone had seen the three hikers out in the woods, they’d immediately be able to guess the levels of experience represented by each of them. Chris, in the forefront, was the leader, and an instructor of survival hikes. He loved the woods and challenging himself in survival situations. Following behind him was Kate, who was a good friend and had done quite a bit of survival hiking already. Trailing along behind was the newbie, Kevin, who had been with Chris once before but wasn’t a natural. Their plan to make camp that evening had to be changed due to the river they were planning to cross being flooded by recent rains. After dinner that evening, Kevin volunteered to hang their foodstuffs a distance from the tents to discourage late-night visits by predators, but as he walked along the trail, he encountered a stranger who called himself Ranger and seemed to be out on his own as well.
Readers familiar with Richard Connell’s classic thriller, The Most Dangerous Game, will feel no doubt the same rush of anticipation that I felt as I began reading Tyler Michael’s Apex. This modern retelling of a grand classic kept me on my toes and wondering just who would survive and how they’d do it. The three hikers are definitely at a strong disadvantage in this novel, and the three human predators competing to win the contest have been trained and given weapons making their prey’s survival nearly impossible. Michael’s three main characters make grand subjects to observe as they learn about their surroundings and adjust to a strange and terrifying reality as prey for three apex predators. His plot is action-packed and filled with unpredictable twists and turns. This well-written adventure thriller will appeal to readers of all ages. Apex is most highly recommended.
The word Apex is defined as “the top or highest part of something...” In Tyler Michael’s so-named book, it could refer to several different aspects: from the beautiful views described in the isolated area where it is mostly set to the almost Darwinian struggle by the contestants and their opponents to survive. . What it actually refers to is the name of a company that has created a new and incredibly dangerous reality game.
On one side of the game’s ledger are 3 businessmen, code named Mr. White, Mr. Blue, and Mr. Black, who have paid large sums to compete to try and gain a purse that can change their lives even more substantially. On the other side are 3 friends, two men and one woman, who are taking a camping trip to celebrate before launching back into their normal lives when they are abducted and dropped onto an island to serve as “prey” for the businessmen in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse.
The game seems like a much more intense version of Discovery’s show “Naked and Afraid,” with the dearth of survival items provided to the kidnapped campers, scores similar to the show’s Primitive Survival Rating (PSR) assigned to the businessmen, and the time limit of 36 hours to complete the game’s mission and reach the extraction point. The action revs up pretty quickly, and at the book’s Apex, if you will, it’s almost literally heart-stopping.
This book is one of my top 3 in 2020, and I’ve read approximately 60 titles this year. The characters are very well formed and believable, providing a lot of depth and difference in how they cope with this dangerous environment. The woman, Kate, is clearly the most savvy, but will she indeed be able to rise to the top? The tension of this question drives one to keep turning pages to see what is around the next corner. I would highly recommend this to anyone, but especially to those who find themselves glued to reality shows like the one mentioned above. In the about section, the author says he is “a film and video game enthusiast who is seeking to bring a similar mix of excitement and pace to fiction”. For a debut, this novel admirably hits that mark.
In Michael’s high-octane thriller, three friends are thrown in a race for survival after their camping trip goes wrong. It was supposed to be adventure-filled excursion when Chris, Kevin, and Kate left for their planned campsite. But an ominous competition leaves the trio stranded in a harsh wilderness far from any civilization. As they try to get out of the rough terrain, they soon realize they are entrapped in a sinister game of life and death. To get out alive, they have nothing but their wit and resilience. Michael demonstrates a knack for repeatedly putting his protagonists in harm’s way, and his swiftly paced narrative nicely reveals the protagonists’ stresses and sense of dread as they try to stay alive in the rugged wilderness with dangerous pursuers at their heels. The tight plotting enhances the lethal game of life or death the trio find themselves in. Adept at creating nerve-wracking moments, Michael keeps the suspense high throughout. Fans of fast-paced, nail-biting action thriller are in for a treat.