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Reviewed by:
  • Stung by Bethany Wiggins
  • Kate Quealy-Gainer
Wiggins, Bethany. Stung. Walker, 2013. [320p]. ISBN 978-0-8027-3418-1 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7-10.

Fiona wakes up to discover her house rotting and abandoned—well, not entirely abandoned, as a beastly creature that looks an awful lot like her twin brother attacks her. A narrow escape takes her through the sewers, into an abandoned town, and eventually to a camp of soldiers where she is immediately imprisoned and put into shackles for bearing the Mark. Her captor is also strangely familiar and turns out to be her neighbor from before—before a plague wiped out much of the US population, before a vaccination turned most of the survivors into mindless, violent beasts marked by the vaccine's tattoo, before her mother decided to put Fiona in a medically induced coma for three years and Fiona lost all her memories. There is nothing soporific about this dystopian twist on "Sleeping Beauty," as it places readers right in the middle of the action from that first chase scene and doesn't let up: the more Fiona runs, the more enemies she encounters and the more intensely palpable her fear and tension become. The backstory of the world comes in bits and pieces, through hushed conversations in sewer pipes or overheard military plans, a strategy that works (at least until the final chapters, where the information is overobvious) to disorient and titillate the reader. The romance between Fiona and her captor-turned-savior is as fast as the action and about as logical as the pseudo-science that drives the plot, but that's true to a story that's a fairy tale at heart. Those who enjoy their damsels in distress and their knights in shining armor will see this story for the imaginative but still traditional tale that it is beneath all the sewer grime.



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p. 442
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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