My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Contemporary/Survival
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Published: March 3rd, 2020
Ashley knows this truth deep in her bones, more at home with trees overhead than a roof. So when she goes hiking in the Smokies with her friends for a night of partying, the falling dark and creaking trees are second nature to her. But people are not tame either. And when Ashley catches her boyfriend with another girl, drunken rage sends her running into the night, stopped only by a nasty fall into a ravine. Morning brings the realization that she’s alone – and far off trail. Lost in undisturbed forest and with nothing but the clothes on her back, Ashley must figure out how to survive despite the red streak of infection creeping up her leg. – Synopsis from Goodreads
“Living things will fight to stay that way.”
I can’t believe I’m rating anything by Mindy Mcginnis anything under 4 stars, but here we are. Be Not Far From Me had all the makings to be one of my top books of the year – survival, independent female and written by Mindy, so why didn’t it completely work for me?
Be Not Far from Me was on my Most Anticipated list for 2020, so I when I got approved on Edelweiss for an earc, I ran to read it. I love survival type stories – they completely freak right out. I can’t imagine getting lost in the woods and having to rely on myself (I’d be dead in 24 hours, I’m sure). Premise is basically a bunch of high school seniors head out to the woods for camping and partying. Our main character Ashley, catches her boyfriend cheating on her and runs blindly out into the woods in the middle of the night. Since she’s a more experienced at hiking and such (and are kind of shit friends), they don’t chase after Ashley right away -thinking she needs to blow off some steam. Wrong, she falls in a ditch, injures herself and gets dead-ass lost. Ashley’s not having the best of night’s.
“If you’re quiet in the woods long enough, you’ll hear something die.”
My first issue with this book is the main character Ashley, isn’t very likeable and I’m someone that loves an unlikeable female – but no, I just didn’t vibe with this girl at all. Ashley is among the countless “I’m the most different girl in the whole world” trope we see in a lot of YA. She is also constantly judges pretty much every girl around her, including slut shaming them frequently – how charming. That’s exactly what I want in a heroine that I have to follow for another 300 pages, ugh. Once the action started getting going, it was a decent enough read for me and the book moved at a pretty fast pace most of the time. Ashley’s decisions were reasonable most of the time – other than running off into the forest and getting herself into this mess in the first place. She uses a lot of her survival skills and still struggles a crazy amount, which means most of us would be really screwed in her situation. There isn’t a ton of dialogue, since it’s just her lost out there by herself, so for most of the book we are just watching how everything plays out as she tries not to give up and just die. Ashley goes through the ringer in this book – like the author really didn’t hold back in this one and I appreciated that part a lot. It’s quite graphic in the details of the injuries she sustains and the fun ooey gooey infections. Let me just say – Possum – F*cking EWWWW. I never thought I’d be so freaked out by a possum, just saying. Her injuries do get a little far fetched in terms of not just falling over dead right away from infection and fever, but it’s never impossible either. It’s just right on that edge at times. If you are at all squeamish, I’d avoid this book – there is a lot of detail about a lot of nasty things in this one.
Through-out the book Ashley does seem to grow and become a bit of a better person as she goes through this shit, but I’m not entirely sure I buy it. I still think she’s kind of an asshole. A lot of people are going to enjoy this one though – I would’ve rated it much higher the main character didn’t want make me want to throw things at her head frequently. Grab it, read it in an afternoon and be done with it. Just my two cents on it.