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The Prey

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A hot debut trilogy and a riveting story of survival, courage, and romance in a future where creating a master civilization is the only thing prized, no matter the method. After the Omega (the end of the end), 16 year old guys known as LTs discover their overseers are raising them not to be soldiers (lieutenants) as promised, but to be sold as bait because of their Less Than status and hunted for sport. They escape and join forces with a girls’ camp, the Sisters, who have been imprisoned and experimented on for the "good of the Republic," by a government eager to use twins in their dark research. In their plight for freedom, these heroes must find the best in themselves to fight against the worst in their enemies.

404 pages, Hardcover

First published January 20, 2015

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About the author

Tom Isbell

6 books89 followers
A graduate of the Yale School of Drama and the University of Illinois, Tom Isbell spent his professional career acting in theatre, film and TV, working opposite Robert DeNiro, Ed Harris, Helen Hunt, Lynn Redgrave, Rosemary Harris, Hal Holbrook, Anne Bancroft, Sarah Jessica Parker, John Turturro, Angela Bassett and others. TV credits include Designing Women, L.A. Law, Golden Girls, Murder She Wrote, Coach, Family Ties, Columbo and recurring roles on Jake and the Fat Man and Sisters. Film credits include 84 Charming Cross Road, Jacknife, Clear and Present Danger, The Abyss and True Lies. He was also the subject of a PBS documentary, Starting in Innocence.

He has written and performed three one-person plays, including Me & JFK, which has been produced in New York, Los Angeles and Egypt. With John Ahart, he co-authored Walt Whitman and the Civil War, which premiered at the Great American People Show in 1995.

As a director, Isbell has taken two productions to the Kennedy Center as part of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF): Dear Finder, a documentary play about the Holocaust, and The Movie Game, written by Adam Hummel. He is the former National Playwriting Program chair for Region V of KCACTF.

An associate professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, he was recently named the Albert Tezla Scholar/Teacher of the Year, as well as a Horace T. Morse Distinguished Teacher, the highest undergraduate teaching honor given within the University of Minnesota. He is happily married to Pat Isbell, who is both an actress and elementary school teacher.

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5 stars
461 (23%)
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573 (28%)
3 stars
583 (29%)
2 stars
237 (11%)
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133 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 29 of 301 reviews
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,055 reviews911 followers
March 31, 2016
An Electronic Advanced Reader Copy was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for review.

At first you’re left in the dark about lots of things. No answers, none whatsoever as to how or why the world became what it was until you get halfway through. But I still didn’t really care about this post-apocalyptic world. There is something cruel about the predator and prey “game.” They hunt people instead of animals for sport. It’s bad enough to murder animals if you weren’t going to eat them to survive but killing human beings because they’re not set to their standards??? It’s sickening. I couldn’t stand the fact that they were hunting people who were deemed by this society as “Less Than.” The way they classify people in this futuristic post apocalyptic world is a little horrifying. These are the forbidden categories: Radiation Deformities, Homosexuality, Incompatible Skin Colour, Political Dissidents, Nonapproved Religious Affiliations, Mentality Infirm. I can’t even deal with any of that. It makes them Less Than.. Less than a human being is anyone follows this. So basically all the characters are people of colour which I vehemently applaud but the story just lacked character development.

I tried to get into this story but I just couldn’t. So many short clipped sentence fragments, way too much dialogue, and instant love which became too nauseating to read. And I just didn’t care what the reason behind this predator or prey game they had or the fact they’re experimenting on twins.

Got 43% into it and couldn’t keep going. I tried really but I couldn’t bring myself to finish this.



"Flint means fire. A knife means survival."

"Live today, tears tomorrow."

"I can make it on my own just as well as you."

"I only beat up people if I have reason to. I don't have a good reason to beat you up."

"You're not only less than normal, you're less than human."

"If you want to change something, change it. Yesterday was yesterday; today is today."
Profile Image for Lindsay Cummings.
Author 12 books5,133 followers
December 18, 2014
When I first saw the cover for THE PREY, I knew I had to have this book. As a lifelong reader, I was introduced to stories very early. In school, my English teacher gave students the short story THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME. The concept for THE PREY reminded me of that short story, so I was hoping for a bit of a retelling of that.

It wasn't what I was hoping for, but that didn't really matter! I enjoyed THE PREY. It's a fun book, with alternating chapters and story lines that eventually come together as the pages unfold.

This book is SO spoilery, so I'm not to give much of the plot away. Fans of THE PROGRAM and THE HUNT will enjoy this one--definitely think it's a good read for boys to pick up!

Basically, this story is set in a futuristic America, where there are militaristic camps set up in different areas. One camp is strictly for sets of twin girls, and they are "operated on". It's creepy, it's strange, and there's lots of questions that readers will beg to have answered. I really enjoyed Hope's point of view (our female lead) in THE PREY. I thought her character was well done!

Another camp is home to teen guys that all have some sort of mutation, illness, or something that makes them different. They believe they are training to become lieutenants, basically...but it's not all what it seems.

After seeing something pretty creepy go down after some of the guys sneak out, they realize that what they've been "training" their entire lives for isn't all that great. It's actually pretty horrible, TBH.

Fun, fast-paced, and enjoyable.
Profile Image for Brooke's Epic Emporium.
865 reviews188 followers
January 21, 2015
I want to thank Harper Teen for sending me a copy of this book to read and give an honest review. Receiving this book for free has in no way changed my opinion or review.

When this book arrived in the mail, I was really excited to read it. I haven't read a good dystopian in a while and the cover drew me right in. So I had great hope that this story would draw me in and satiate my need for the genre. Sadly, it did not. I really wanted to like this book. I even read to the end of the book, after contemplating not finishing it a few times, in the hopes the plot of the story would make it a better read for me. But it was just not meant to be.

I think my biggest issue with this book was not so much the story line, as it had it's good points, but how it was told. It is written in alternating perspectives. One is first person past tense the other third person present tense. I really don't understand why it was told this way. Usually, third person is done because the author needs the reader to be able to see the character from their own perspective, as opposed to seeing the character through their own eyes. Yet, seeing Hope this way did nothing for me. It didn't make me like or dislike her. It didn't make me feel like I knew her any better. It just made me confused. And having the male POV in first person past tense confused me more. Why was it done in past tense when Hope's POV is present tense? Throughout the entire time I read this bothered me and I could not put it out of my head and move past it to see any greatness in the story.

I also had great issue with many of the descriptors in this book. Sure, the author was trying to make us see certain things (the lay of the landscape, the color of someone's eyes or skin, etc.) but it's all about telling us what things look like rather than showing us.

And, in all honesty, I didn't really understand the underlying plot. The boys are raised for sport, the girls are raised for experimentation, but we are never given the background of why the world became this way or what the government is really trying to achieve with the camps they have established. The world building is terribly lacking. How did the camps come to be? Who decided to set them up? Also, the government officials the reader is introduced to during the course of the book really lend nothing to the story. They are just there to be evil and because the reader has no idea why they are in their positions or what is expected of them, it's unclear what their role actually is in the story.

Couple this with some unreasonable and unrealistic scenes where these rebellious teens armed only with arrows and darts and traveling by foot are able to fight off adult men toting large guns and riding on ATVs or in motorbikes. And add in an insta-love romance that seems to be going love triangle only to pull back and you get a story that is seriously flawed.

And I have to say all the characters were very flat. I didn't get any distinct personality from them at all. Even the way they are described didn't stick with me. And the boys are supposed to be deformed in some way (the main character has one leg shorter than the other) yet they are able to overcome just about anything as if they have nothing wrong with them (it's barely ever mentioned). I felt no attachment to any of them, had no empathy for them to make it out alive in any of the situations that they were put in.

Does it have the potential to be good? I think so, if the world building were done better, the story line were tightened, and the alternating points of view changed to be in the same tense. I'm actually surprised after reading the ending that this is the first in a series. I can honestly say that I will not be picking the next book up. Dystopian lovers may or may not enjoy this book. Unfortunately, it just was not for me.
Profile Image for (;Missy.Lala;).
670 reviews2 followers
November 27, 2014
I can tell why this book has low ratings. So let me start a list...

1. There's mispronunciation and the grammar is pretty bad and needs to be fixed.
2. The wording of the story makes the readers not want to continue to read.
3. Most of the characters in the story are barely mentioned.
4. No background information on the "camps" are mentioned. So the audience doesn't know how the camps and the world came to be.
5. Not at all like Maze runner and Hunger Games, the only reason why it was compared to them was because this story was a survival type, and dystopian, and the maze runner and hunger games are the most common and popular topics in the category and was decided to be compared to them. But in my opinion, this is a mixture of The Program, and delirium. Which are 2 series' that are not on my too lists... But maybe soon they wil be when I have a chance to read the whole series... Hmmm...
6. The characters are barely developed (but then again it's only the first one and supposedly in the sequel, they go on a bigger exploration and hopefully the characters and background information are mentioned there).

This book had the potential and the originality to make it popular and far, it's just the way it was written didn't really do the book justice. I liked it. And I got an ARC so maybe the story will be modified alittle bit since I got it 3 months before the publication date. So let's hope xD

Oh and before I forget, this story has lots of action, adventure, (romance built but barely), and horrible people that will frustrate you and constantly you would want to throw the book out the window.

So yeah, this book isn't for everybody, if you liked The Program, and Delirium trilogy, you'll probably like this one. :)
Profile Image for Amber.
987 reviews
April 9, 2015
This was a pretty good audiobook that my mom borrowed from our local library that we listened to about these kids that are placed into these resettlement camps by a twisted government that is formed after a radiation blast and so they plan to escape from their oppressors who have made them prey. It's a pretty good YA dystopian novel that I would consider a stand-alone. Def check it out.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,689 reviews1,267 followers
January 20, 2015
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

After reading the negative reviews for this book on Goodreads I nearly didn’t read it, but I’m so glad I did because I really enjoyed it!

I liked the characters in this book. Book always tried to help other people, Hope always looked out for her sister, and Cat hid a heart of gold under that rough exterior.

The storyline in this was good, and there was plenty of information for me to not feel confused. Admittedly we weren’t immediately told everything about what had happened, but I was glad of that because I didn’t want info dumps, instead we found out what had happened as we went along, and I appreciated that.

This book had lots of action and excitement, and I really liked it! I might be a bit of an adrenalin junkie I’ve discovered, so the constant danger and desperation, not to mention the escaping and battles etc. was enough to keep me happy and interested. At points I really didn’t want to put this down!

There was a touch of romance in this, but not a lot. What we did get was pretty sweet though, and I liked it.

The ending to this was good, even if the onward plan was a little risky. I really enjoyed this book though and I can’t wait to read the sequel!
Overall; really good dystopian adventure,
8 out of 10.
Profile Image for Anatea Oroz.
302 reviews515 followers
December 4, 2015
Everything Blythe said is true.

This writing = horrible

DNF at 7%! -> It's a record for me...
Profile Image for Annette.
923 reviews26 followers
January 13, 2015
The Prey was full of suspense and great action, but the ending really fizzled for me.

This is a book about children after a radiation disaster. There are very few adults, at least that we know of. All the children are in camps for orphans. Some camps are nicer than others. Some camps aren't what they seem to be.

Hope and Faith are twins and they've been running and hiding for years with their father to keep away from the "brown shirts." After their father dies, they are captured and taken to a camp for girls. It soon becomes obvious that this camp is doing medical experiments on these children, and the prized children are twins.

Book is in a camp for boys. He thinks he's in training to be a soldier (they call them LTs, for Lieutenant, right?) He finds out that LT really stands for "less thans." All of the boys in the camp are deformed or deemed inferior in some way, and their future is far more bleak than they think.

Book finds out the truth because of Cat, a boy who is captured and brought into the camp. It isn't clear where Cat came from, but he knows a lot about what is really going on. Cat escapes, but comes back to help some of the other boys escape.

Book has met Hope, realizes her horrible situation, and won't leave without rescuing the Sisters, as they are called.

The Prey is action packed. The way is not easy for these kids, constantly being pursued and running towards an unknown target. The pace is relentless -- and at times it almost seems too easy for them to get food and recover from their injuries. But those details would slow down the pace.

There is a hint at a love triangle between the three main characters which is soon resolved, thankfully. I really don't think it's needed here.

We don't have any idea what is going on in the outside world, or even the motivations of the adults at the camp. We get hints, but it is clear that more needs to be explained in future installments of this story. And that's OK.

What really didn't gel with me was the ending. Without giving away spoilers, I don't see why the group didn't at least investigate where they were before making the decision they did. That didn't make sense. Why would you decide to take all those risks when you don't even know what the reward will be (or if there IS a reward.) It wouldn't have hurt them to explore a bit before rushing off.

I'm ready for the next book in the Hatchery series. I love a plot-driven adventure book, and I'm always looking for new, exciting books to recommend to my students. The Prey will be on the list.
Profile Image for Abbie.
1,976 reviews584 followers
March 5, 2015
(I received a copy from Netgalley, In exchange for an honest review.)

I liked most of the characters in this, but Hope especially. She tried her best to look out for her sister, even if it meant suffering more herself.

The storyline was interesting, and the pace was fine. I liked the action, and the lack of info dumps was great.

I'll definately be reading the second book in the future.
Profile Image for S61.
347 reviews
November 27, 2017
Can’t believe how much I loved this book. It was one of the most fast paced books I’ve ever read, so if you’re looking for a book to keep you occupied on the plain or anything like that, this is the right choice. I love the concept of this story and can’t wait to read the sequel. It gave me vibes similar to the Maze Runner and the 100, two worlds which I absolutely adore. Expect to see this on my favorites list of 2017;)
Profile Image for Dark Faerie Tales.
2,274 reviews545 followers
April 16, 2015
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Though I had problems with the writing style, I still found this novel a fast-paced, engaging read.

Opening Sentence: Blood drips from fingertips, splashing the floor.

The Review:

Book is an LT at a camp for children who were damaged by radiation poisoning. He has a limp in one leg, and at the camp, they are taught basic survival skills. It’s all fine and good until a stranger comes to camp, warning Book that not all is as it seems. The soldiers are keeping them at the camp to train them, so that they’re not easy prey…when they’re hunted. People from the outside can pay to hunt the boys, who are no longer under the protection of any law being damaged. Book and a group are preparing to stake an escape.

Meanwhile, Hope and her sister Faith have been living off the land for ten years with their father. After he dies, they are captured by another camp, a camp for girls…girls with twins. Since twins have the same genetic material, they can use them to test the amount of medicine needed after a sickness, and administer sadistic experiments to see how long they can hold out. Many of the girls at the camp have lost their sisters, and Hope doesn’t want to be next. And the girls in their cabin seem like they’re hiding something.

The writing in The Prey was very odd. It was often choppy, and didn’t flow well. I guess one could say it was unique, but this wasn’t my favorite kind of unique, unfortunately. For example. The first page has this paragraph: “Blood. Purpling. Coagulating before his eyes.” Last time I checked, “purple” isn’t a verb, but I guess artistic freedom and all allowed it to exist as one. This writing style really bothered me at first. It got on my nerves. A lot. It would. Phrase. Things oddly. Like. This. It would chop sentences into individual words – for suspense? Maybe it would have worked better if there was less of it. Eventually, I got used to it, around 25 percent in. Then it was easier and less frustrating to read the novel.

The main characters were Book and Hope, though there were plenty of side characters. In the beginning it is mentioned how Book is shy and doesn’t do social very well, and yet I didn’t see much of a problem with him and socializing as the novel went on. Unfortunately, there was little development there, although I do admire his wits and bravery. He does do something at the end that made me shake my head. After going the whole way through the book, focused on a certain goal, he achieves it . . . then decides it’s not enough and he needs to start over. Why couldn’t he have decided that when he wasn’t miles and miles away from the starting point? Uch. Hope’s character was more gritty. She did what she needed to do to survive. She was really tough on her sister, sometimes too rough, but hey, it kept them together.

There was a sort of love triangle in the book, though it is definitely resolved in the end. It was between Cat, a leader, a relentless, persevering, smart force. He can protect her. He makes Hope feel safe. Then there is Book, whom she feels connected to from the very beginning. (It was sort of insta-love) He makes her feel like she’s not alone. He understands her pain. He understands what she’s been through and heels her heart simply by being with her. Their relationship wasn’t extremely fast-moving, so I liked that, but the connection was immediate. They were cute together, and Cat was more of a short infatuation. We never learned any of the boys real names, now that I think about it.

In the end, though I had some problems with the writing style in the beginning, I found this to be an enjoyable book. I was a little wary going into it because many people, namely reviewers, had a tough time getting through this book. Thankfully, though it wasn’t my favorite, I still had fun reading it and think that others will too. I had recently read another book about humans getting hunted – Blackbird by Anna Carey – and couldn’t help making comparisons. Don’t worry, it wasn’t a carbon copy, and there were plenty of differences between the two, it was just fun finding the similarities. One thing I wish the book had, that it didn’t deliver, was world-building. Maybe in the next novel they’ll go into that more, but in this one it just gave the bare minimum of information about the war before the kid’s time. Altogether, this novel had a lot of grit, action, and fast-paced survival scenes!

Notable Scene:

“So what’d those LTs do that got them punished?”

Cat stopped. “You’re not listening. You all are prey, and your camp is one big hatchery. Those six LTs did nothing more than have the bad luck to get sent here. Period.”

“A hatchery?” Flush repeated.

“A place where fish are raised, then released into rivers so fishermen have something to catch. You’re just a bunch of Less-Thans- being raised to be hunted.”

FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of The Prey. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Profile Image for Kathy Martin.
3,337 reviews73 followers
December 22, 2014
In this dystopian beginning to a trilogy, boys are kept in resettlement camps where they believe that they are being raised before becoming part of the army. Book is one of the boys. When he finds another boy outside the camp and near death, he is surprised to hear him whisper "You got to get me out of here." When the boy recovers, he takes Book and a couple of other boys to watch boys who have graduated from the camp being hunted. This inspires Book to begin to organize an escape. On one of his initial forays, he discovers a nearby girls camp and meets a girl named Hope.

Hope and her twin sister Faith are new arrivals at the girls camp, They had been living in the wilderness with their father until he died and they were captured by soldiers. They quickly learn that they are being used for medical experimentation (think Nazi Germany and the concentration camps). Faith, who was always gentler and weaker, doesn't survive the experiments. And when Hope learns that the leaders have sent a message to eliminate the evidence of the experiments, Hope and some of the other girls decide that they need to escape too.

A small group of boys and a larger group of girls escape and try to make their way to a new district where they hope conditions are better. They have to battle the hunters, the soldiers, mutated wolves, and the elements as they try to find freedom. The book was action-packed with the girls digging a tunnel which is filling with water to make their escape and then the whole group running from a forest fire set by the hunters. The grossest part was when they had to eat maggot-infested meat to avoid starvation.

Like many dystopias, we have only vague ideas of what caused this and even vaguer ideas of what the world is like outside of the two camps. I am very curious about both of those things and wonder about the economics of raising these young men to be hunted. There has to be money somewhere!

Students who are looking for still another dystopia will enjoy this one.
September 12, 2015
- Είναι κουραστικό, βαρετό μέχρι ναρκοληψίας και δεν καταφέρνει να σου κρατήσει το ενδιαφέρον (όχι ότι προσπαθεί.
- Αργεί πολύ, πάααααρα πολύ να μπει στο θέμα... Αν πρέπει να διαβάσω τα 3/4 ενός βιβλίου για να καταλάβω που θέλει να το πάει... καήκαμε.
- Οι χαρακτήρες είναι τελείως χάρτινοι, επιφανειακοί κι αδιάφοροι. Δεν υπάρχει η παραμικρή προσπάθεια να δημιουργηθεί ένα ψυχογράφημα πάνω στο οποίο θα πατήσει η πλοκή και θα εξελιχθεί. Οι πράξεις τους και οι εκάστοτε αποφάσεις τους είναι αψυχολόγητες και χωρίς καμία λογική.
- Δράση... είναι δυστοπικό (ή τουλάχιστον, προσπαθεί). Περιμένω λοιπόν να έχει δράση κι αγωνία έτσι ώστε να μπορεί να με "κρατήσει", κάτι που το συγκεκριμένο δεν καταφέρνει ούτε στο ελάχιστο.
- Είναι κακογραμμένο! Δεν ξέρω αν φταίει το ότι δεν έχει περάσει επιμέλεια, αλλά είναι πολύ κακογραμμένο με αποτέλεσμα, να γίνεται κουραστική και δύσκολη η ανάγνωση. Επιπλέον, χωρίς να έχω ψάξει για τον συγγραφέα, υπέθεσα αμέσως ότι είναι ή πιτσιρικάς, ή τελείως άπειρος και άσχετος με την λογοτεχνία.
- Συγκίνηση! Πού είναι το συναίσθημα αυτό; Σε ιστορίες όπως αυτή, περιμένεις να συγκινηθείς, ειδικά όταν υπάρχουν απώλειες. Και όμως, παρά τα άσχημα που συμβαίνουν προς το φινάλε, είμαστε τόσο αποστασιωποιημένοι που δεν μας προκαλούν καν αίσθηση.
- Είναι προβλέψιμο, συνηθισμένο, χωρίς ανατροπές, εκπλήξεις ή κάτι το διαφορετικό από τόσα και τόσα άλλα βιβλία αυτής της θεματολογίας που κυκλοφορούν στην αγορά, τα οποία δεν συναγωνίζεται ούτε γι' αστείο. Ειδικά με "Το Κυνήγι"... οι ομοιότητες, είναι πάρα πολλές.

(Αναλυτικό review αν τελικά κυκλοφορήσει...)
Profile Image for Kelly.
1,311 reviews502 followers
December 13, 2014
3,5 stars

I was a little scared to read this book considering the few negative reviews. Fortunately, my copy seemed to be edited and I didn't have issues with the writing. I enjoyed this book even if we didn't have a lot of explanations right from the start. It was full of actions. There was also a touch of romance but not much and it was sweet. I hope this part will be developed in the next book. I also want to know more about Cat. He's the character I liked the most, I think. I didn't really like how it ended, the decision they made was rushed and even if I understand their reason for doing that I still think it would have been smarter to see what was on the other side before doing that. I'll probably read the next book to see what happens next.
Profile Image for Michaela.
1,342 reviews66 followers
February 14, 2016
Taká zhoda náhod. Knižku som darovala bráškovi, on ju dočítal presne v ten deň, ako som sa rozhodla ju požičať si z knižnice, tak mi ju doniesol. :)
Mal pravdu, prečítané za pár hodín. A moc ma to neoslovilo.
Profile Image for Sarah .
439 reviews82 followers
June 20, 2017
3 stars

First posted on A Weebish Book Blog

THE PREY by Tom Isbell is the first book in the Prey series, and a book that has received a lot of hate since it’s debut in 2015. It is a story about a group of teenagers that decide to fight for a life of freedom against impossible odds in dystopian America. Ultimately, I enjoyed this novel, but there were definite issues with the book that makes it understandable why so many readers did not enjoy the book. I struggled to keep reading it, myself.

The first issue I ran across was the grammar. There was an abundance of sentence fragments and unnecessary imagery that didn’t add much to the story line except redundancy. A few examples:

“Blood. Purpling. Coagulating before his eyes.”
“other vehicles had arrived, disgorging brown-shirted soldiers”
“[they] slid him into the Humvee like a pan of dough going into an oven.”
I’m all for figurative language to help develop the plot, the world building, and character development…. but some things just don’t need describing.

While I was able to overlook the grammar, I was almost unable to finish the book due to the excruciatingly slow moving plot. It took 19 chapters to finally hook me. NINETEEN. I must have put the book down a dozen times because anything else was more entertaining then reading THE PREY. The writing style had me convinced it was going to be a fast-paced read, but don’t be fooled – it’s not. However, I am thankful I was able to motivate myself to finish the book, because once things started moving, I could not put it down.

“If you want to change something, change it. Yesterday was yesterday, today is today.”

Before we start chatting characters, let me explain a little bit about the world this book is set in. The Republic of the True America is the new government that was formed after The United States was bombed with electromagnetic radiation that fried everything electronic and ruined the country. After the new Republic took over, they separated survivors into settlement camps and — like your typical dystopian government — blamed all their issues on Less Thans and brainwashed the public into fearing the next Omega (the day the world as they knew it ended) would be their fault, too.

Who is a Less Than, you ask? Homosexuals, people of color, those disfigured by radiation, political dissidents, people of non-approved religious affiliations, the mentally disabled — anyone different. Kinda familiar, isn’t it?

THE PREY follows two sets of characters — Book and his fellow LT brethren at Camp Liberty, a settlement that raises Less Thans to be hunted for sport when they become of age, and twin sisters Hope & Faith as they are on the run from the Republic and trying to survive. The chapters told from Book’s point of view is a first person narrative, while the girls’ is third person. It didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment, but it was a little bit strange at first.

It took me a good dozen chapters to figure out the main cast members of the novel, and even more so for me to sort through my feelings for them. Book and Hope are without a doubt the main characters, and so is Cat, who played a crucial part in their survival.

Book is by far my favorite main character. He is bookish, courageous, and cares about the survival of others. I have fairly mixed feelings about Hope. She’s your stereotypical badass heroine that you see in a lot of YA science fiction these days. Her attitude towards her sister and other characters that weren’t quite as extraordinary might have been realistic, but it rubbed me the wrong way. Cat I wound up liking more than I thought I would. He was an asshole at first, but as the book progresses and we learned more about him, I grew more fond of him.

There is a long list of secondary characters, but only a few of them actually add to the development of the story. Dozer is one such secondary character that I could not stand. He was whiny, argumentative, and created conflict among the others. I hope he doesn’t appear much in book two.

I definitely struggled finishing this novel. It took a long while for me to feel invested in the characters — and to want to keep reading. I can’t say THE PREY is my new favorite, but I will be reading book two – and hoping the writing progresses as the series does.
1 review
January 30, 2015
Having only purchased Tom Isbell’s The Prey a little over a week ago, I blazed through it during my free time, and finally finished it a few days ago. I believe it’s a testament to the overall quality of the book and storytelling that I so enthusiastically and rapidly devoured it, that I felt hesitant to put it down for any length of time, and that I eagerly await the series’ future installments. While I was so engrossed during my initial read of it, the more time I’ve spent reflecting on it, the more I’ve been able to recognize why I found it so engaging, why it was such a page-turner for me, and why I would recommend it to fellow readers. So, here are some of my observations:

This was actually my first step into the world of young-adult, or teen-oriented, fiction, so it took me a slight period of adjustment to become comfortable with the style and the target audience. I was initially taken aback by how brief the chapters and descriptions felt, but as I read further, I realized how much I appreciated that choice and how it really served the world and story. There’s a wonderful bluntness that comes from that level of brevity, and it helps color this dystopian future different from others in a subtle “less is more” kind of way. Here is a world that is shockingly stark, primal, and brutal, and we only need the most frank, brief encounters and images to be alternately intrigued and unsettled by this world and its inhabitants, especially for younger readers. This also helps give the storytelling a sense of urgency, especially as the story and the characters race breathlessly through the second half towards the thrilling final standoff and conclusion.

I also appreciated the two viewpoints through which the story is told, Book’s and Hope’s, and how further separating them into first-person and third-person forms of narrative lets you alternate between a personal and observational view. I’m not too sure how often books of this genre tend to make an effort to have a reader connect with protagonists of both genders through different narratives, but I think it’s a gamble that really pays off and that will hopefully draw in, and connect with, more young readers. I’ll admit I wasn’t too sold on the initial, almost immediate, romantic connections and attractions that were step up, but I was actually surprised by how invested I had become in the interpersonal relationships while reading the very end, final page, and final sentence. I also had to remind myself what it was like to be that age, and how realistic those feelings and emotions might’ve come across and felt had I read this particular book then. I’m not ashamed to admit I was heartbroken as I wept at the conclusion of The Amber Spyglass when I first read it as a teenager, so I certainly understand the power of young love and its place in fiction for youth.

Speaking of The Amber Spyglass, I thought of it many times, as well as its His Dark Materials counterparts by Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife), while I was reading through The Prey. That’s not to say they’re very much alike, but there are certainly some scenarios, images, and feelings that struck a similar cord with me. For one, the horrifying mistreatment of, and experimentation on, youth made me immediately think of the processes conducted on young boys and girls in The Golden Compass. But while Pullman’s unsettlingly experiments feel slightly removed by their science-fictional world, Isbell’s are not only jarring, but also feel uncomfortably possible. I think that can be said about much of the world in The Prey. When I think of franchises like The Hunger Games, of which I’ve only seen the film adaptations, it takes much to suspend my disbelief in order to accept the absurdity of the circumstances and the world. However, when examining the Prey, the hunting down and persecuting those we may deem as being beneath us is not only believable, but also an unfortunately real aspect of our human history, as well as our modern day world. In fact, one specific connection to past events became obvious to me the more I read.

I may be reading into the influences of The Prey more than I need to, but there appears to be an obvious connection between the world of the book and the realities of World War II and the Holocaust. The concentration camp-like nature of the settlements in which the characters live, the persecution of those who are deemed as “different”, the emphasis on “purity”, the barbaric actions, the frightening imagery, and the “leave no traces” mentality, and many other examples, immediately brought to mind the atrocities committed in genocidal actions of the Nazi regime, as well as by others in our current day. There are even scenes, interactions, and scenarios that bring to mind memorable moments from films depicting World War II, such as Inglourious Basterds, The Great Escape, and Schindler’s List, among others. These connections not only drew me deeper into the realities of the world Isbell has created, but made me truly care and fear for the safety of the characters and innocents depicted within. Such parallels not only help shape the world for readers, but they also draw out more thought provoking questions and responses from those readers willing to take notice of them.

All in all, I found The Prey to be a compelling and thrilling adventure, fascinating in its brutal honesty and reality. It features troubled and complex characters that you grow more and more attached to as the story progresses and as they reveal more and more to each other and the reader. I personally found it incredibly evocative visually, and sometimes emotionally. There's even some delightfully Spielberg-esque villians (which is a great thing)!!! It’s a grueling and engaging journey against obstacles of nature and man, haunting pasts and an even more frightening present, with a conclusion that not only caught me off-guard but left me dying for more. I cannot wait for the next installments in the series, but also cannot wait for what else Tom Isbell might have up his sleeve as a writer. I absolutely, whole-heartedly recommend this book!
Profile Image for Lara.
8 reviews
June 3, 2018
Once I first started reading the book, I wanted to stop it. The writing was sloppy and the relationships seem predictable. But I had to finish it and I was happy I did. The writing improved and the predictable relationships have a purpose. I am now excited to read the next one, as I have finished the sniped that was in The Prey
Profile Image for Horror Guy.
274 reviews23 followers
November 30, 2019
Feels like a historical novel about the Holocaust that's awkwardly shoved into a dystopian young adult universe. Hopefully, most dystopian novels are at least more creative; the only things different from world war 2 Europe and this nuclear landscape are that the villains have access to motorbikes and one character has a leg that's longer than the other from the nuclear fallout (thank god it's not something that would make him unattractive to the target audience)
Profile Image for Dav.
844 reviews5 followers
February 9, 2022

The Prey
(Book 1 of 3) by Tom Isbell,
pub. in 2015, over 400 pages.

About 20 years ago global nuclear war (called Omega, end of days) devastated cities around the world and radiation is still causing death and deformities. The former USA is now the Republic of the True America (RTA) and in the western territory the Chancellor of that region has enslaved the children of those who are enemies of the Republic.

Chancellor Maddox, a former congresswoman, helped build the Republic after the Omega War and made it part police state that favors only desirable citizens who have sworn a loyalty oath.

"...the new government established settlement[s] ... At one such camp, the sixteen-year-old "LTs" [all boys] are eager to graduate as part of the Rite. Until they learn the dark truth: "LTs" doesn't stand for lieutenant but for Less Thans [those with birth defects, the wrong skin color or are otherwise undesirables], feared by society and raised to be hunted for sport."

Several LTs escape with Book, the book-reading scholar kid and Cat the sneeky athlete who was found dying in the desert.

"They escape and join forces with the Sisters, [from an all-girls camp of] twin girls who've suffered their own haunting fate [They are being experimented on]. Together they seek the fabled New Territory, with sadistic hunters hot on their trail. Secrets are revealed, allegiances are made, and lives are at stake. As unlikely Book and fearless Hope lead their quest for freedom, these teens must find the best in themselves to fight the worst in their enemies." - edited


The story begins at the edge of the desert, buzzards circling and boys from Camp Liberty finding a kid near death, his tattooed ID number burned off. The kid survives and they give him the nickname Cat. Before Cat escapes again, he tells Book and friends the truth about LTs and from a distant ridge they witness a hunt. Older boys who "graduated" at 17 and were supposedly given assignments in other parts of the Republic were actually being stalked by hunters riding ATVs, tormented with rubber bullets before being killed outright.

Alternating chapters give the story of 16 year old twins Hope and Faith. As their story begins their dad, scientist Dr. Samadi, is on his death bed and insists his 2 girls seperate and not travel together since the RTA is hunting for twins. Hope fears her frail sister won't survive alone and tracks her down and of course they're captured and imprisoned at a camp for twin girls. At Camp Freedom Dr. Gallingham, a former associate of their dad, experiments on the girls. Sometimes these experiments kill a twin and that's what happens to Faith, she dies from an experiment on recovering from being submerged in ice cold water.

When Dr. Samadi's wife gave birth to twins he left the Republic and when the twins were about 6, mom was shot by Brown Shirts (RTA soldiers). For 10 years dad and his twin girls (Hope & Faith) have been on the run, sleeping in derelict cars, hiding out in caves, etc. Recently they gave a runaway boy shelter in the cave, this turns out to be Cat.

In Camp Liberty, the kid named Book and several friends make plans to escape, but when their plot is discovered Cat helps them get away immediately before the camp is locked down. On a previous outing Book had come across a girl for the first time - Hope working in the barn at Camp Freedom and she tells him the way to freedom: east of the mountains, across the desert, beyond the Brown Forest to a new territory. He's also been having dreams of an old women with long black hair directing him with enigmatic messages like "There you will go." He believes it's up to him to also rescue the gals at the Sisters Camp.

Now, as Book, Cat and other boys (8 of them) get away into the night, riding stolen horses, pursued by Brown Shirts on ATVs, Book insists on stopping at Hope's camp to let her know they're headed to the Brown Forest and the new territory beyond.

The girls are having troubles of their own. Hope and a small group of gals are trying to dig a tunnel to escape and Book over hears a directive to eliminate them all. After Faith dies, Hope looses hope and tells Book to leave her alone and not come back.

Eventually, Hope finds the determination to escape ASAP. She and her compadres get out thru the flooded, but mostly completed tunnel and Book is there to help them - he waited.

20 girls and 8 boys head out with Cat as their de facto leader since he has escape, survival and weapon experience and a long, long time later they do reach the fence of the Eastern territory (The Heartland). From a distance they see a pleasant town with kids and families on the other side of the barrier fence and no guards, guns or soldiers. As a precaution they crawl under the fence, just in case the town doesn't let them in.

The long trip was fraught with peril, close calls and only 2 deaths. 26 make it all the way. After eluding the Brown Shirts the teens arrived at a farm owned by an old man (Frank). At first he's hostile, but when the kids dig a grave for his recently deceased wife he gives them food, supplies and training in using bows and arrows. They're now armed and reasonably proficient with slingshots, spears, bows etc.

While the kids continue their journey, rowing across the lake, the Brown Shirts show up shoot the old man, burn the farm and a kid is badly wounded when the soldiers shoot across the lake.

In the mountains they encounter clever, vicious wolves that kill for sport, not just to eat. It's a major battle using their primitive weapons and they kill many wolves, suffer minor injuries, but the remaining wolves drag off the wounded kid (June Bug). The teens march on for 18 straight hours until they reach the Salt Flats where the wolves finally quit following.

Running out of food and water, it's a long slog across the desert Flats. At a dilapidated filling station the Hunters show up (lead, as usual, by The Man in Orange) and this is one of many ridiculous scenes. The teens distract the machine gun-wielding Hunters by shooting rocks and arrows at them while Cat sneaks around behind them, steals a gun and blows up the bad guys by shooting a propane tank, which of course is not possible. I guess if 007 is allowed to blow up a propane propane tank in the movies using his pocket pistol, why not teenagers in a dystopian tale? Orange Man gets away.

Cat is skilled and talented because he was a privileged Brown Shirt in training at the Young Officers Camp and deserted because of the emphasis on killing innocents. His dad is Major Karsten, a leader at the LT boy's camp (Liberty). The Major took his son to watch many LT hunts (Hunters paying to stalk and kill the undesirables). The reason Cat knew the boys had to escape was because dear old dad, the major, kept his son informed of the goings-on at Camp Liberty.

It's then a walk thru the Brown Forest, miles of dead trees. The Orange Man likely starts a forest fire that nearly kills the teens. Luckily and ridiculously Book and the teens start a back-burn fire and dig shallow holes to bury themselves until the fire passes over. Book and Hope share a kiss in front of the group, but most of the time they trade glances and wonder what the other is thinking.

At last they reach the new Heartland territory and Book has an epiphany. He finally understands what the old woman in his dreams has been telling him - he's to lead the way back to the camps to rescue all the imprisoned teens. The others are incredulous, but soon enough Cat and others join him. A total of 7 LTs and 8 Sisters, including Hope, head back with Book.


An entertaining tale of 16 year olds who unbelievably become talented survivalists and experts with primitive and homemade weapons.

Mostly liked it, at least enough to read the sequels.


Book 1: The Prey 2015.

Book 2: The Capture 2016.
"...[enslaved teens] escaped and found their way to freedom, but Book, Hope, and Cat can't settle into their new life knowing the rest of the Less Thans and Sisters are still imprisoned. Now the teens must retrace their steps to save the others and thwart the Republic's dark plans to destroy those deemed different, even as relationships are tested and the path back is filled with danger."

Book 3: The Release 2017.
"Two months have passed since Book, Cat, Hope, and the others rescued the remaining Less Thans from Liberty, but they aren't safe yet, and soon they'll have to risk everything in order to defeat their enemies.

The group must leave the camp for good and escape the wolves, the Brown Shirts, and the Hunters. Most important, they need to stop Chancellor Maddox before she executes her Final Solution and grows even more powerful.

While the others are seeking freedom, for Hope, the battle has become personal. She wants revenge, no matter what the cost -- and she's willing to sacrifice anything standing in her way. The group may still be weak, but they don't have time to wait. They must overthrow the Chancellor, even if it means joining forces with those who once betrayed them.

Profile Image for Angelina.
385 reviews46 followers
May 28, 2016
This review was originally posted on Fable's LibraryI actually saw The Prey sometime last year, but the reviews stopped me from reading/buying it. But eventually I saw it at Barnes and Nobles, had a coupon, and it was a paperback so I bought it. Why? Because it sounded EPIC, and I wanted to read this book badly, no matter what anyone else said.
What I Liked
-The cover. SOOOOO pretty. I love the blue/grey/green cover and the font is beautiful. Pretty!


-The summary made the book sound amazing (read my point below to see why I didn't like it). The Prey sounded like it had so much promise, like it'd be a creepy story of survival. That's what I wanted (but didn't get :( ).
What I Didn't Like
-There were certain parts I felt were unnecessarily violent. Like the part with the wolves, I don't want to talk about it....but I guess it did show how ruthless their world is and how much it has changed over the years. I was still pretty disgusted though.

-The characters were okay. I didn't really feel anything for any of them so it was hard to stick with the book. Hope and Book's relationship just didn't feel right to me, it felt either forced, or fake. They constantly thought about each other but never did anything with it, they'd just fight or ignore each other. That's it. So, I wasn't a fan.

-I'm not sure if I read the summary wrong, but the story felt COMPLETELY different. These characters were raised to be hunted but they were rarely hunted before they escaped. And there wasn't any explanation as to why the Less Thans were counted as Less Thans, because they look different? Because they had radiation? The reason felt really weak to me and unbelievable. I don't believe that the United States would just drop all their beliefs and start hunting people who, pretty much, were their friends.

-The ending. No. I get it was bravery, but it made the whole story pointless. Then again, I'd want to do the better thing too. So, I get it. I like it but don't like it.

once upon a time
Fables Final Thoughts
-Wait, Angelina, you have more dislikes than likes, why did you give it three stars? Because this book wasn't the worst thing I've ever read. It wasn't poorly written or very boring. It just didn't sweep me off my feet to get a higher rating, and it didn't bore me to death to get a lower one. Tis why :) I think maybe the next book will be better? I may just get it from the library this time...
Profile Image for Take Me Away To A Great Read.
498 reviews3 followers
January 20, 2015
Prey by Tom Isbell
The Hatchery, #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Rating: 2.5 stars
Source: Advanced Reader Copy provided by publisher

I saw this book and read the synopsis and instantly knew I really wanted to read this book. I am huge fan of this genre and have been looking for a book that would fill that void. Prey seemed like just the book to do it. I found that while I wanted to be pulled into this world that Tom Isbell was trying to create it was lacking.

This book is taken from two POVs that of Hope, a young girl with a twin sister named Faith. Hope and Faith are soon captured and experimented on. They soon have so many questions as to what is going on, and why. The other POV is that of Book a young man who is at another camp. He soon learns that things at his camp aren't what he has been told. He decides to devise a plan to escape, and soon both Book and Hope's worlds intertwine.

I loved the concept of twin experiments, this really intrigued me. Especially since I am a twin. The part that then frustrated me was I didn't get any answers by the end of this book. Why are they experimenting on twins? Still have no clue! I loved the concept of some being labeled Less Thans but just because you are different was the only reason I found for this description. Aren't we all different and who decides?

I liked the fact that they had a really cool hunting scene with wolfs. The wolfs are now smarter, but they never explain how they have gotten smarter. Then there is a letter that Hope finds in an office that provides her answers, but not all those answers are shared with the reader. This drove me crazy, I thought maybe by the end of the book I would find out but I didn't. I still have no clue what the last paragraph in that letter said, but they referenced it enough to make me crazy.

I would like to think that some of my questions and some of the things that I felt were lacking will be answered in the next book. I would like to continue with the series and see if this was just the start to something amazing!
3 reviews
January 26, 2015
The Prey by Tom Isbell is a heart pounding adventure that takes us into a post apocalyptic America 20
years after a nuclear fall out has devastated the world. The Republic Of True America has emerged and the world is now divided into territories.

The Prey is comparable to other YA dystopian books out there, but I believe it stands very much on it's own and has a life and a unique voice to it that explores a more human experience in a post-apocalyptic world. It is grounded in a world that is more believable instead of creating an overly futuristic sci-fi world. 

It is written from the perspectives of the main characters Book & Hope, and it really gives the book a unique voice seeing that each character speaks in his/her own tense. I liked this touch to the book. You really get a feel for the characters and you can step inside their heads and really feel how they operate. All the characters are very well written. The story moves quickly and keeps you guessing what will happen next. 

I could not put the book down and it is definitely a page turner. I finished reading it in two days, and I'm not a fast reader at all. 

It was enthralling and when the book was finished, I found myself wanting to know what happens next. In my opinion, that's what makes a good book. One that keeps your attention and makes you want more!

Seeing that this is only the first book in a trilogy of books, Mr. Isbell has established his world and made his mark. I cannot wait to see how the rest of the story plays out.

I really recommend this book. It's suspenseful, romantic, tragic, witty, real and honest. Give it a read. The negative reviews are not anything to look at when choosing whether or not to read this book. I honestly don't think the people read the full book before they posted. It's really unfortunate.

Overall it is great and I think a fantastic first outing for Tom Isbell.
Profile Image for Evikulik.
357 reviews7 followers
January 26, 2016
Kniha s podtitulom V republike sa lovecka sezona nikdy nekonci. Dalsia velmi prijemna fantasy kniha. Kniha je pisana z pohladu Buchlu 16 rocneho chlapca, ktory zije v tabore volnosti kde ziju sami "bazanti". V tomto tabore ziju a vyrastaju deti, ktore maju nejaku fyzicku, psychicku vadu alebo ich rodicia mali nespravne nazory a presvedcenia. Druhou osobou je Hope, ktora uz desat rokov putuje s otcom a dvojickou Faith krajinou a skryva sa. Dej sa odohrava v amerike, ktora sa po dni OMEGA zmenila. Jedneho dna najde Buchla v pusti polomrtveho chlapca, ktory mu prezradi ze vsetko je inak ako sa zda a bazantov nevolaju len bazantmi len tak pre nic za nic. Hope zomrie otec na otravu krvi a jeho poslednym zelanim bolo aby sa sestry rozdelili a utekali kazda spolu. Samozrejme ich spolocna laska je silnejsia a nedokazu sa rozdelit. To im vsak pripravi problemy a Hope a Faith chytia a uvaznia v jednom z dievcenskych taborov, nedaleko tabora v ktorom zije Buchla. V tomto tabore vsak nie je taky volny rezim ako v chlapcenskom. Obyvatelstvo tvoria dvojicky, na ktorych su prevadzane experimenty. Kde vedci na rovnakom genetickom materialy skusaju svoje pokusy.
Kniha je pisana nenarocnym a jednoduchym stylom. Dej ma rychly spad. Pribeh ma bavil, doslova som ho hltala. Napatie bolo takmer pocas celej knihy. Moja zvedavost bola velka avsak tu vidim minus knihy. Zvedavost citatela. Osobne by som bola rada keby sa pribeh viac prepracoval a objasnilo by sa viac veci. Chybala mi vacsia prepracovanost pribehu avsak potom by uz kniha nebola taka rychla jednoducha a nenarocna. Osobne som citatel, ktory ma vo svete fantasy velmi rad prepracovanost pretoze rada spoznavam nove svety takmer do detailov...za to by som knizke znizila hodnotenie ale celkovy dojem z knihy bol velmi dobry a rada ju odporucam vsetkym milovnikom fantasy. Kedze sa dej skoncil otvorene tuzobne ocakavam na preklad pokracovania.
Profile Image for Gisbelle.
770 reviews218 followers
November 4, 2014
My thanks to HarperTeen & Edelweiss

Point of View: Dual (Book & Hope)
Writing: First Person (Book), Third Person (Hope) | Present Tense
Setting: Republic of the True America
Genre: Young Adult | Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopia

Weird wording, and the romance was even weirder. But I liked the storyline, even it was a little slow. I did like the plot because it was gruesome and different from most books I have read in this genre.

Book was a nice character. He was resourceful and I liked how he managed to come up with solutions when they were in trouble. Hope was a strong character, too. At times though, it felt like she complained too much. Then again, she was in such horrible situation, so I guess it was understandable.

Though the pace was slow for my liking, there were a lot of action and adventure in this book, so I think it wasn't too bad.

As I already mentioned, the romance wasn't my favorite part of this book. However, the book didn't focus much on their love. I didn't mind much because I just didn't feel anything when there was any love scene.

In short, it was an okay book in my opinion. It just wasn't as good as I had expected. Still, I didn't have any problem with this book much, so I think I might read the sequel.
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