In this staggering tale of loss intimate and ecological, Geni joins T. C. Boyle, Barbara Kingsolver, Annie Proulx, and Hannah Tinti in portraying humankind as both the planet’s most dangerous predator and one of myriad species vulnerable to ecodisasters of our own unintended devising. Riveting, provocative, and unforgettable.
Geni brilliantly captures the magnetism of a fanatic whose diagnosis of society’s ills is spot-on but whose conclusions are deranged ... Yet The Wildlands fails to leverage the dramatic heights of its setup, in part because Darlene and Tucker are never allowed to truly clash. The perspectives also deflate the central tension ... Geni has built a small oeuvre around the interface between the natural and human worlds ... Geni is a careful etcher, though there’s something cool and studied about her work that keeps a reader at arm’s length. The human tensions are often weighed down by her meticulous descriptions ... She has a gift for conceiving high-stakes scenarios yet tends to shy away from their dramatic resolutions ... In The Wildlands, Geni invites readers to observe its characters as attentively as a scientist, but ultimately gives too much — and yet not enough — to see.
[Geni is] an astonishing storyteller who brings the sun-baked plains of Oklahoma to life on every page. The narrative toggles seamlessly ... The Wildlands is perfectly of its time, when humans are more alert than ever to our impact on the world around us.
[The orphaned children plotline] is enough calamity to fuel a whole book, but it's only the beginning as The Wildlands clips along with its eventful plot, detailed in sensitive prose that ponders nature, adaptation, survival and the mysteries of family ties ... Geni creates arresting tableaus of nature juxtaposed with the trappings of modern life as a wild spree sets horses, dogs, ostriches and polar bears loose across Texas, New Mexico and California.
Cora’s experience, narrated in first-person chapters, is tender and terrifying. Tucker is almost exclusively viewed through her eyes, but readers can see the abhorrence of his actions clearly. At the same time, Geni uses him to limn the intelligence and order of the animal world and to raise valid, troubling questions about humans’ treatment of their fellow beasts ... Geni continues to create works of art with perfect voices that are simultaneously thrillers and meditations on nature. It is an incredible trick.
While predictable, the novel is particularly notable for its interrogations of human relationships with the natural world, in keeping with Geni’s previous works. This is a fast-paced, high-stakes novel that will keep the reader turning the pages.