Ten teens are left alone in the wilderness during a three-day survival test in this multi-authored novel led by award-winning author Shaun David Hutchinson.
At Zeppelin Bend, an outdoor-education program designed to teach troubled youth the value of hard work, cooperation, and compassion, ten teens are left alone in the wild. The teens are a diverse group who come from all walks of life, and were all sent to Zeppelin Bend as a last chance to get them to turn their lives around. They’ve just spent nearly two weeks hiking, working, learning to survive in the wilderness, and now their instructors have dropped them off eighteen miles from camp with no food, no water, and only their packs, and they’ll have to struggle to overcome their vast differences if they hope to survive.
Inspired by The Canterbury Tales, the characters in Feral Youth, each complex and damaged in their own ways, are enticed to tell a story (or two) with the promise of a cash prize. The stories range from noir-inspired revenge tales to mythological stories of fierce heroines and angry gods. And while few of the stories are claimed to be based in truth, they ultimately reveal more about the teller than the truth ever could.
Nine perspectives interweave in a novel composed of divergent, unsettling stories from authors that include Brandy Colbert, Justina Ireland, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Stephanie Kuehn. A group of delinquent teens is sent to Zeppelin Bend, an outdoor education program that dumps them in the wilderness to teach lessons about hard work and connection. There, they take turns recounting maybe-true stories in an effort to win a promised $100 from Hutchinson's character, who guides readers through their haphazard three-day trip. A gay teen obsessed with film legends gets appropriately cinematic revenge after being spurned in Tim Floreen's story, while Robin Talley's eerie "Look Down" immerses readers in classic summer-camp fare: pranks, romance, and ghosts. Marieke Nijkamp's character, Jenna, hits on the deeper truth of these interconnected stories: "If hope is a thing with feathers... then secrets are things with talons." The kids are considered "human garbage," as Hutchinson's character puts it, but their choices and situations are born of sharp, complicated moments and realities. Though the voices are distinct, it's the overall experience of disparate people finding common understanding that lingers. Ages 14 up.