In a world ravaged by mutation, a teenage girl must travel into the forbidden Savage Zone to recover lost artifacts or her father’s life is forfeit. America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. Even the plantlife has gone feral. Crossing from west to east is supposed to be forbidden, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some enter the Savage Zone to provide humanitarian relief. Sixteen-year-old Lane’s father goes there to retrieve lost artifacts—he is a Fetch. It’s a dangerous life, but rewarding—until he’s caught. Desperate to save her father, Lane agrees to complete his latest job. That means leaving behind her life of comfort and risking life and limb—and her very DNA—in the Savage Zone. But she’s not alone. In order to complete her objective, Lane strikes a deal with handsome, roguish Rafe. In exchange for his help as a guide, Lane is supposed to sneak him back west. But though Rafe doesn’t exhibit any signs of “manimal” mutation, he’s hardly civilized . . . and he may not be trustworthy.
Years ago a virus that mutated humans into animals ravaged the country. It started in the east, so the west side quickly built up a containment wall to keep the virus and the abominations it made out. Lane grew up in the west side where germophobia has a new meaning and no one ever dreams of crossing over to the east. At least no one but Fetches that is. These few people go over to the other side to retrieve anything for a price, but face execution if they are caught. So when one of the higher ups in disease control shows Lane evidence that will destroy her Fetch father, Lane agrees to travel to the other side to do a retreval mission to clear her father's name. But the savage zone is no place for someone like her, and she'll either have to toughen up quick or die trying as there are no second chances where she's going.
The world behind INHUMAN was absolutely incredible. Not only is it a post-apocalyptic/dystopian society, but there the whole animal/human element as well. Unlike other plague ravaged worlds, in this one, after some time, the plague didn't kill but mutated. Not into zombies, but a combination of animals and people. And no, I'm not talking shifters like werewolves, but honest to goodness hybrids. It was utterly fascinating, especially considering the danger that these ferals potentially held, and yet at the same time were still so human for a very long time before finally succumbing to the animal completely. Between the danger of that, and how easily the virus can spread, the fear between humans and the infected is incredibly high, making for an intense read.
I absolutely adored Lane's character. She started out so meek and mild, not unlike the scared little rabbit she was compared to. She had such a germ phobia and was obsessed with hand sanitizer. Yet, underneath all that she had an iron core of strength that just hadn't been given a reason to shine through, at least not until her father went missing and she was given only five days to clear his name. Then suddenly she's travelling to the savage zone risking everything in order to save her father. Slowly she starts to come out of her shell and her very soft hearted nature starts to harden, and yet she still doesn't lose who she is at the core, even as she finds herself starting to fall for a boy at the same time. Granted the romantic aspects played a very very small role in the book, and there were possible stirrings of a love triangle, I still very much enjoyed it. In fact, I'm hoping it will play a larger role in the next book as Lane's confidence continues to increase, but only time will tell.
This book wasn't even on my radar until I stumbled across it in a waiting on Catching Fire promotion, but boy am I glad I did. I absolutely loved this book and I could not put it down once I picked it up. It was almost like the story was going down an imaginary checklist, hitting every single element needed to make a fantastically intense roller coaster ride. Fans of post-apocalyptic/dystopian worlds do not want to miss this utterly unique new series. I know I'll be counting down the days until the next installment is released!
(Received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley)