Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Kat Falls
For ages 13 and up
Scholastic, 2013   ISBN: 978-0545370998

Nineteen years ago a company conducting genetic engineering experiments allowed some of their subjects, animal hybrids that were going to be used in a theme park, to escape. What no one knew then was that the creatures carried within them a DNA-altering virus called Ferae Naturae. Any human they bit got infected, and the victim’s cells would start to mutate so that he or she would end up turning into a terrifying, dangerous, half animal half human hybrid called a feral. In no time at all the plague spread and millions of humans were infected. Many were killed in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, but in the end it was decided that the only solution to the problem was to abandon the eastern section of the United States and build a huge wall to keep out the ferals and protect the western part of the country.

   Lane has lived her entire life behind the wall and she has never even seen a Ferae infected human. She has been sheltered from the horrors that lie in the Feral Zone. Then, without warning, she finds out that her father Mack, her gentle art-loving father, is a fetcher, someone who illegally goes into the Feral Zone to get things. The head of Biohazard Defense, Director Spurling, has found out about his activities and she wants Lane to get her father to fetch something for her. In return, she will not turn Mack into the authorities. Fetching is highly illegal and the punishment for being a fetcher is death.

   Wanting to save her father from execution, Lane agrees to go under the wall to find him and to give him Director Spurling’s ultimatum. Apparently he spends a lot of time with a Dr. Solis, who lives in a facility that is in a kind of no man’s land between the west and the Feral Zone. Unfortunately, Mack is not with the doctor and Lane has to travel to a nearby settlement that lies in the Feral Zone. Even though she is told that such a trip would be suicidal, she goes anyway, and she quickly finds out how dangerous the world on the other side of the wall is. Thankfully, Rafe, a young man who lives in the Feral Zone, comes to her rescue. He is an uncouth and infuriating feral-hunter, but he does know what he is doing, which Lane does not.

   When they get to the settlement Lane meets her first feral. What amazes her is that the strange looking hybrids living at the settlement can still talk and think like humans. One can safely live with the infected individuals so long as they don’t enter the third and final stage of the disease. When this occurs, the feral ceases to think and feel like a human, and becomes an insane blood-thirsty danger to everyone.

   To Lane’s great disappointment her father is not at the settlement. Time is running out and so she decides that she will complete the fetch herself. All she has to do is to go to Chicago to get a photo from the Director Spurling’s old home. Before she can leave some security guards arrive on the scene. Their mandate is to take Lane back home. With the help of the settlers, Rafe, and Everson, one of the guards who is sympathetic to the plight of the ferals, Lane begins the journey to Chicago. She never imagines that what she will find there will make the wilderness areas in the Feral Zone seem tame.

   In this captivating, sometimes shocking story, Kat Falls takes reader to a future that none of us would like to see. It is fascinating to see how Lane has to learn how to balance her compassionate nature with her need to protect herself.

   This title is the first book of  what promises to be a thrilling series.