Jem's Reviews > Survival Instincts

Survival Instincts by May Dawney
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it was amazing

Survival instincts

Violent. Gritty. Graphic. These are some of the first adjectives that come to my mind when I started reading Survival Instincts. And pretty much throughout the book. But by the end, I'd add to it pulse-pounding, heart-breaking, and quite simply--effing awesome!

It's a completely immersive and truly visceral experience. But it's not for the squeamish. Life in this dystopian future is more akin to life in prehistoric times--raw, wild and brutal. It's a literal dog-eat-dog world. Predators and prey roam the sprawling concrete wilderness formerly known as cities.... A few hundred years ago... Before the bombs fell. Now the rusting car husks and abandoned buildings are just like caves where one can just as easily hide from danger as they can meet their end.

The main character Lynn is a "wilder", a futuristic nomad. She's chosen to live a life of solitude, relying solely on her wits and well-honed instincts for survival. She chances upon a small settlement one day but is immediately accused of being responsible for the death of their leader, because she has his dog. A foolhardy decision to retrieve his buried body results in the most horrific trip to hell.

Lynn choses a single travel companion for the job--someone from the settlement who isn't likely to kill her--and someone she thinks she can dump the first chance she gets.

But things don't go exactly as planned...


The most noteworthy and in my opinion, authentic aspect of the book is how it draws its dystopian world. Though the time frame seems a bit too long (it's a little hard to imagine humanity still hasn't gotten its act together..a few hundred years after the apocalypse), for the most part, it was easy for me to get behind the author's vision of the world. I thought the scenarios depicted and the characters’ reactions to them stayed true to the author’s vision, however off-putting they may be to some romance readers. I'm one of those. But I always look for a great love story underneath the veneer, or in this case, the dreck. It's absolutely there and it's developed just the way it should be...super slow burn, with lots of low-key, understated but no less dramatic, heart-tugging moments. Okay, I must admit that the romantic development part of the book has a bit of a modern feel to it but that, I think, is the book’s only concession to romance readers. Everything else is pretty much what you’d expect a wild and dangerous world like that to be--where survival means having to kill in order not to be killed, where human life is reduced to the basest of animal instincts--survival.The many scenes of violence, gore and animal kills, none of which are gratuitous, reinforce the book's bleak dystopian reality.

Rich character development is another aspect I loved about the book. I thoroughly enjoyed how the MC slowly, subtly and quite reluctantly grew from a self-centered, almost-misanthropic lone wolf to someone who was willing to lay down her life for another... And how her natural, life-long instincts for self-preservation struggled mightily with it. I thought that was such an incredibly honest and incisive characterization.

The book is also a very effective thriller. The trip to hell and back is fraught with danger and unknown risks, and death and dismemberment always seem to be just lurking around the corner waiting to pounce on our heroines. The action and thrills are well sprinkled throughout the book, and there is seldom a dull moment.

As a book, this is great. As a debut novel, it is simply amazing.

5 stars


ARC from Ylva
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Reading Progress

April 28, 2018 – Started Reading
April 28, 2018 – Shelved
April 28, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Diane (new)

Diane Wallace Excellent review, Jem! :)


message 2: by Lex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lex Kent Great review Jem! :)


message 3: by Jem (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jem Thanks, ladies!


Lexxi Kitty I rather enjoyed this one as well. And liked their second novel I read by them roughly 0.06% more than this one here (okay, I gave this one a rating of 4.44, and the other a rating of 4.50 - I didn't actually do any thinking on whether or not one deserved to be rated over the other and only now notice that I had rated one slightly higher than the other).

The second novel is another somewhat odd ball one. Fantasy, though, instead of post-apoc like here.

Wild Magic


message 5: by Jem (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jem Sounds good, Lexxi. Thanks for the rec. As long as it is a complete story, I'm in. Though 187 pages does seem a little short for a fantasy book...


message 6: by Alexis (new) - added it

Alexis Great review!


message 7: by Agirlcandream (new)

Agirlcandream Great review, Jem. Welcome back!


Tiff Great review for an awesome book!!!


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