Review: Wandering Wild by Jessica Taylor

Publication Date: October 13, 2015

Tal is a Wanderer. She and her brother, Wen, have spend their life traveling from one place to another. A life of pulling cons is the only one she has ever known, and it's the most natural thing in the world to her.

When a con leads to a markie, Spencer Sway, showing up in her life and cons more, Tal can't help but get drawn into glimpses of a life she never had.

But then a boy shows up, reminding Tal and Wen of an old marriage arrangement, resulting in a promise - no matter what, they will use all the skill they have to pay her bride price and buy her freedom, even if it means using Spencer Sway.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Like a lot of other books I've read this year, I went into this without knowing much about it. I had forgotten all about the premise of the book and I basically only knew that it was a YA contemporary with a female protagonist. How prepared I was for this.

Right off the bat, I knew that I would really enjoy this. For one, it deals with a group of people called Wanderers, and secondly, the beginning had gripped my attention almost immediately.

The premise of the book is so interesting because I don't think I've heard of many books out there that deal with Wanderers, and I know that I've never read any books like that before. If you're wondering, no, Wanderers are not gypsies. In fact, gypsies aren't even gypsies. The people whom we call gypsies are often actually Romani, which should be the term we use to address them. Though it should also be noted that not all Romani are actually gypsies. Anyways, that little lesson aside, Wanderers are not actually gypsies. These Wanderers are trained conmen who move from town to town, pulling scams, and then leaving before someone realizes what's going on.

Within the first few pages of the book, I was so incredibly interested in the Wanderer lifestyle and how they conducted their scams, especially when it came to how Tal and Wen operated so smoothly as a team. Naturally, since they're siblings, it's perfectly understandable that they work so well together, but this is different. Rarely have I ever seen a sibling relationship like this one, where they genuinely care for each other and watch out for each other so much that they have an ability to know when someone is wrong, even without anything having been said.

I think that part of me really want to try this life of being a Wanderer, but I'd probably fail pretty hard at it. After all, I've had no training in any type of con, and I'm far too attached to things like the Internet, my phone, and books to successfully immerse myself into their unique culture. And yes, my main concern is that I don't have the training to con people and manipulate them as I need.

The plot kept me interested the entire time and I never felt bored at all. There was always something new being developed and I really enjoyed that. It was especially interesting once the issue of Tal's arranged marriage came up. The way she handled things and made decisions had such a composure to it that I never would have if I were to be in her situation. In fact, if I were ever to have a marriage arranged for me like Tal did, I think I would burst into tears and probably try to run away, only to fail and have something bad happen to me. Or, you know, objects would begin flying and some very harsh words would escape my mouth before someone had to sedate me.

You may be wondering why I only gave this a 4 star rating when I've said nothing but good things about this book. The reason for that is simply that while I really enjoyed the plot and the characters, it wasn't up there with some of my favorites. There wasn't really a big impact made on me, though I'll undoubtedly be thinking about this for awhile. But the simple fact is that I don't think my fondness for this book would elevate it to a 5 star rating.

I liked the ending a lot. At first, I was a little worried that it would feel rushed, since I was about 20 minutes away from finishing it on my Kindle app, but that wasn't the case at all. It felt thought out and well executed. While it did have some bittersweet moments, I do think that it was the best way things could have ended, and I'm really happy for the characters and where they ended up.

Tal, our main character, is a Wanderer, and it's really interesting to see how she interacts with our world because of the way she was raised in her world. For her, manipulations and cons are second nature, to the point where she would easily manipulate her own brother if it meant that he would go along with a con or stop worrying about me. To an extent, I feel like I related to Tal because her this manipulation. While it's not something I do often, I do have the capability to manipulate people into doing what I want. I'm not very good at it, but I'm highly capable of it. And I don't know whether or not it's a good thing that I relate to Tal on that level.

Her character development was really interesting because of her lifestyle and upbringing. The way she saw things was so logical, it sometimes made me wonder how I didn't see it like that before. I think she's a really great main character and a very interesting one to read about.

I love Wen. I absolutely love him to bits. The way he watches out for Tal, the little quirks he has, and the air I got from him as I read the book, it all made me want to have someone like this in my life. I'd totally want a brother like him.
He's also another character that has gone through some pretty good character development, though not as much as Tal has. I enjoyed every single moment of reading about him, and I think the only thing I'd complain about is that I didn't get enough of him and wanted more.

4 stars and a definite recommendation. I should quickly note that there is some swearing in this, though not that much. I think this is a really great book and I encourage you to pick it up if it sounds interesting to you. I very much enjoyed it and I think it's worth giving a shot.

Thank you to NetGalley for hosting this on your site. Thank you also to Egmont USA for approving my request to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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