Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 4437
Overall rating
Writing Style
WILDMAN is J.C. Geiger’s debut novel about a graduating senior, Lance Hendricks, who has his entire, boring life planned out. He will graduate high school as the valedictorian, and then will study business on a full scholarship with his vanilla girlfriend, Miriam. Though he is not particularly excited about any of these prospects, he follows this path without much resistance. As fate would have it, on the eve of losing his virginity, perhaps the only interesting night of his life thus far, his car breaks down in the Washington wilderness. In a matter of days, Lance’s whole world changes.

J.C. Geiger’s writing style is really fun. I love the way he describes the simplest details, such as a speedometer needle, with irony, sarcasm, and a bit of magic. This technique and Geiger’s mastery of language reminds me of John Green’s writing, particularly in THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. However, Geiger’s tone is a little less sardonic than Green’s, which makes the characters feel like everyday people. We all, along the way, will meet a Breanna, a Dakota, and a Stone. Geiger, however, has painted them so vibrantly and with multiple layers of nuance that they finally have the opportunity to be understood.

The themes of this novel include following your heart, doing the unpredictable, and learning that what you need most can come from unexpected places. This message is crucial for teenagers transitioning to college, but it is also relevant for anyone of any age. The book tells us not to accept the narrative we are given. In other words, just because someone thinks we are smart, stupid, pretty, or ugly, does not mean that it is true. We must forge our own paths and be honest with ourselves as making “safe” and expected choices will not bring us closer to our goals. Geiger himself has “eaten the beating heart of a snake, been deported from a full-moon party, and spent a short time locked in a Bolivan prison.” He has been out there living, and through his character, Lance, he will encourage many readers to do the same.

WILDMAN is an incredible novel, chalk full of life lessons and heart. Fans of John Green will rejoice over J.C. Geiger, but if Geiger is anything like he seems, he will have no trouble carving out his own unique space in the literary world.
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