August has a great life. He gets to travel as a model with his boyfriend and takes great pride in his appearance and his job. When August decides to propose to his boyfriend on a flight through Alaska, not only do things go wrong with the proposal, but shortly after, the plane crashes. August is not only badly injured, but he’s alone and exposed to the harsh conditions of the Alaskan wilderness. Trapped by the plane itself, August has little hope.
That is until a man covered in furs appears and saves him. Keegan isn’t exactly living in remote Alaska by choice, but he’s there to survive. First, he needed to survive the deadly life he was thrust into and now he survives the harsh climate, relying on his well-honed instincts. Keegan thought he was doing okay by himself until August came into his life and Keegan’s only plan is to keep August alive. Through dangerously low temperatures, endless snow, wild animals looking for their next meal, and poachers, Keegan will risk it all to help August recover and keep him safe. Keegan thought living alone was his destiny, but now his heart doesn’t want to let August go.
I have always been interested in dramatic stories that put characters in extreme conditions. I also enjoy seeing those characters find a way to survive. Wild offers both: the best dramatic moments, as well as a fierce survival story that reads as well as any blockbuster adventure movie.
The sense of place here and the world building is what I want to address first, as it was truly incredible and the highlight of the book. While the story is set present day and technically there is no world to be built, the depths of the Alaskan wilderness is a place where few people get to venture. Wilder transports us with stunning visuals and fascinating extreme conditions that may just leave you feeling chilled by the frigid temperatures and conditions described.
Keegan has been living alone in the wilderness for the last decade. He cannot return to civilization for his own safety and his only goal each day is to survive. From finding food, to staying warm and dry, to protecting himself from predators, Keegan is convinced this is it for him. His story is exposed at a natural pace where choices were made for him and his life was not his own. When he finds August, everything changes for Keegan and he finds within August a chance for hope and redemption and even love.
While August was a known fashion model, he still managed to come across as somewhat grounded. He did think his life was over when he saw how his intended proposal was going, until the plane fell from the sky and that reality was like nothing he could ever have imagined. The men fall in love and while the extreme circumstances and forced proximity are a catalyst, the men truly find their way to each other despite the severity of their situation. Keegan wants to keep August with him and while his intentions are good, he makes missteps, but then also makes selfless decisions in the name of keeping August safe.
The highlight of the book remained the setting. There were many obstacles the men had to overcome to survive, but given the location and conditions, it all read as fascinating. There were a couple of scenes that went on a bit too long for me and then had the effect of breaking the spell and pulling me back out of the story, which was actually jarring when it happened. And, while I spent the first half waiting to see how the men could truly wind up together, the wrap up became predictable and the ending was rushed for me then in terms of their ultimate relationship.
Wild offers the best of a dramatic novel, with characters that you will simply root for, in a setting that is both compelling and ruthless, as the wilderness truly captivates you.