Lost in the Wilderness by Teresa May B. Bandiola

Read the original review here.

Rating: 1.5/5 stars

I went into reading this book with high expectations. In fact, I was incredibly excited, as I haven’t read a YA contemporary in a while. And I hate to say it, but I was extremely disappointed.

Lost in the Wilderness is the story of Sophia Vabueretti, a Pacific Islander that struggles with flashbacks from her old home, Forest Green. Four years before the story begins, Sophia is caught kissing her boyfriend, Jericho, and is shipped off to a new town. In an attempt to forget about Jericho, she agrees to date Giovanni. However, on their way home from a concert, Sophia gets in a deadly crash that claims her memory. Will she ever get her memories back, or will the odd stranger named “Jericho” remain a mystery?

I liked the fact that the setting of the story was not in America or the UK. Rarely do I read books that take place outside of either, and this new culture and land was refreshing.

However, the remaining components of this story are lacking.

The characters, I felt, were flat and too incredibly happy. I’m fairly sure that the majority of the characters’ sentences ended in exclamation marks, giving them a happy outlook in inappropriate times. In addition, they were each clichés and practically perfect. For example: Nadine (the younger sister) is sweet, innocent, and doted upon. Sophia is described as a “goddess” on more than one occasion (which drove me up the wall). Jericho is willing to do anything for Sophia. Another issue was the inconsistencies. Her mom (Elizabeth) will be loving and sweet in one scene, then abusive and screaming her head off in the next. The mood swings do not agree with her character. I think she would have worked much better if she had been the moody side of her predominantly. And not only is there an obnoxious love triangle, but a love square.

The language in this book did not work well with the characters or scenes (or time period, really). The words were switched around to sound fancier. This made not only the dialogue unbelievable, but the narration as well. Imbalance of description made the pacing either too fast or too slow. It also made it hard to “see” what was going on. The story jumps around. In addition, there was a huge amount of head-hopping (choppy third person omniscient). In one scene, I’ll be in Sophia, Elizabeth, and Jericho’s mind, incredibly confused.

But one of the biggest things for me were the strange birdlike creatures. In the immensely boring prologue, the tale of the Vangekekan tribe is told. I still don’t really understand all of that and nearly forgot about it; through the first half of the book, that information was totally irrelevant to the story. It would have worked better if Bandiola had incorporated the information in the story gradually. Or, even, took it out all together. Yes, they become important in the end. However, it did not work at all with the story. I would have much rather read this as simply a contemporary and without the addition of weird bird things.

That being said, this made the storyline in general very disconnected and strange. The two halves of the book are completely different, and the action doesn’t really pick up until the halfway point. The ending was immensely disappointing and vague.

I hate giving bad reviews. I do. And I understand how hard it is to write a novel and get a bad critique. But honestly, this book could have used much, much more work and review.

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