Chris McClinch's Reviews > The Wilding

The Wilding by Benjamin Percy
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M 50x66
's review
Oct 23, 2010

really liked it
Read from October 23 to December 29, 2010

I debated between three and four stars on this one, but decided that the strength of the prose was worth four. This was a strong debut novel, but it's plagued by some flaws that will probably embarrass Mr. Percy later in his career. A subplot featuring the protagonist's wife and a stalker feels tacked on and unnecessary, particularly because the wife is a thoroughly unlikable character. The novel is far stronger when dealing with the three generations of men in the woods. This is clearly the heart of the novel and where Mr. Percy's interest lies. Had he spent more of his time here and deepened his exploration of their relationships to one another, the wilderness, and civilization, this likely could have been a five-star novel. Particularly had he also fixed the one aspect of the novel's epilogue that truly feels like a cheat.

I recognize that from the first paragraph of this review it sounds like I didn't enjoy The Wilding. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was a highly enjoyable novel--one of those that's just good enough to frustrate you that it's not even better. The prose is wonderful, and the portraits of three generations of men out in the woods are very strong. Mr. Percy can also handle a suspense scene. I'm looking forward to what his second and third novels bring.
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