...a fascinating reflection on the sexual assault that shaped part of Hale’s life, as well as on humanity’s rapacity, Internet trolling, and mental illness ... Hale’s self-deprecating humor helps to build and release tension, showcasing the irresistible charm of her writing ... As in all of these essays, nothing is straightforward, but rather a swarming collection of thoughts, emotions, and humor, all skillfully constructed into a narrative ... Like most great writers of nonfiction, she is acutely aware of her flaws; in the end, she finds herself the most ridiculous of all ... Hale’s fascinating essays challenge readers to examine and perhaps even embrace the animal nature in everyone.
... tightly wound personal essays, all of which generate insight into the human condition by ruminating on the animal kingdom or the natural world ... [the essays] prove most effective when they focus on surviving savagery rather than surrendering to it ... Whether the cause of danger is men or mountain lions, the world has never been a particularly safe place for humans. Hale’s book thoughtfully ponders the ways we deal with that reality—by denying it, by confronting it, and, finally, by accepting it ... Throughout the collection, Hale speaks with an assured, accessible voice. Her writing is grounded by a self-awareness that never becomes self-serious ... She’s also a master of the kind of destabilizing transitions that make nonfiction read like narrative ... The most alluring aspect of Hale’s style is, however, something less flashy than a well-crafted cliffhanger. Her writing possesses a knack for understatement that makes it easy for the reader to follow her into uncomfortable territory. This is lucky, because there is little that is more uncomfortable than recognizing everyday ferocity. But that’s just what Hale would have us do.
For the majority of the book...[Hale] sees herself more as a predator...It’s a helpful lens through which to contemplate the foibles of humanity, but one that easily devolves into cliché: 'I had the realization that humans are the most dangerous creatures' is not quite the revelation it wants to be. And so Hale makes quick work to reveal her ugliness in contrast to prose that’s casual and cool and often funny. She’s a calculating oversharer ... It’s gutsy to portray oneself as messy and mean, but to what end? Radical honesty and self-deprecation don’t make up for a startling lack of empathy ... Hale is too clever by far to be an empath; her essays don’t contain an openness to understanding so much as a belief that we should all be allowed to be as mean as we want to be. Such a message feels hollow, almost as pointless as the damning Goodreads review, 'Meh.'