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The zoo is nearly empty as Joan and her four-year-old son soak up the last few moments of playtime. They are happy, and the day has been close to perfect. But what Joan sees as she hustles her son toward the exit gate minutes before closing time sends her sprinting back into the zoo, her child in her arms. And for the next three hours - the entire scope of the novel - she keeps on running.
Suddenly, mother and son are as trapped as the animals. Joan's intimate knowledge of this place that filled early motherhood with happy diversions - the hidden pathways and under-renovation exhibits, the best spots on the carousel and overstocked snack machines - is all that keeps them a step ahead of danger.
A masterful thrill ride and an exploration of motherhood itself - from its tender moments of grace to its savage power - Fierce Kingdom asks where the boundary is between our animal instinct to survive and our human duty to protect one another. For whom should a mother risk her life?
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sara on 08-11-17
A Fantastic Fast Paced Listen
This book was an intense page turner that grabbed my attention and kept me listening non-stop. The struggles of this diverse set of characters were compellingly conveyed to the listener through Phillips' ability to capture their internal chatter and thoughts. The book spans only about three hours of real time but with the use of flashbacks and memories we learn a great deal about these people. Heart pounding, horrifying and insightful are words that come to mind when I reflect on the story.
More than this, the book tackles many difficult topics by looking at the individual will to survive, motherhood, personal strength and how far our responsibility goes in regard to helping strangers in peril. This is my first book by this author and I am impressed with Phillips' skill at stepping beyond the simple thriller aspect and deftly taking us into the minds of the characters.
Campbell's narration was excellent. She was able to capture the terror and turmoil subtly with her voicing of each character. The reading never became too extreme or over the top which could easily have happened with a less experienced narrator. Campbell is becoming one of my favorite readers.
Be aware that this book delves into gun violence and sociopathic behavior and you most probably will find yourself repelled by much of what happens in the story. At the same time Phillips' will have you thinking and asking yourself repeatedly--what would I do in this situation. Compelling, thought provoking and really scary. This is excellent story telling but in my opinion not for the faint of heart listener as the violence is very intense.
27 of 30 people found this review helpful
By Mel on 10-10-17
View from the Hunted
5* reviews and a *fantastic* sold me; I love a fantastic listen. The story is told by the mother; an idyllic day at the zoo for mother and son, shots are fired, and the day is turned into a nightmare. As the mother realizes the pops she's heard were actually gunshots she instinctively scrambles to protect her life and her little boy's, her mind frantically racing through different scenarios. Philips does an impressive job of keeping the shock and the responses authentic to the psychology while balancing it with the increasing intensity of the situation. This is the strength of her novel, telling the story from inside the head of one of the hunted. So, with the mother and little boy crouched behind a bush with bullets firing, why did I set the book down? I'll try to explain my complacency....
The mother's narration started to feel myopic and while that may have been part of the author's strategy, I found the mother and son getting on my nerves in spite of the situation. I found her intimidatingly perfect and nurturing, a Wonder Mom; the little boy went from being precocious to obnoxious. I should have been wondering who is shooting, at whom, and why, and where are the police, but I was fixated on the mother's patience with her little 4 yr. old in the situation. She gives him his action figures, fishes for animal crackers in her purse and worries about his playing too loudly and I was pumped up with the fight or flight response, wanting her to ditch the *Inside voice only please,* and instead give him an urgent *SHHHH! We could be shot here!!* That's what the mind does with stories we know are fiction... the psychology is there but detached. The ending is already there a few chapters ahead and these are just fictional characters from a writer's head. So, I stopped reading what I thought was just another every-day-situation-turned-disastrous story. I was about to return the book but more reviews were in and decided to give it another try -- that was August 30th.
During their fight for survival, the author brilliantly gives us the mother's self-examinations of what she sees and her reactions. She mentally chastises a woman that leaves a baby in a garbage can under a speaker blaring Halloween rock and roll music...then contemplates under what conditions such a sacrifice would have been made, what it would mean to her and her son's survival if she picked up the baby as they were fleeing the approaching shooters, where is the infant's mother. These thoughts and decisions will both haunt her and encourage her as she flees just steps ahead of the gunmen and eventually as she adjusts to her own ethics in a world where this kind of terror will forever be a reality to her.
A day later, Oct. 1st, Gin Phillips's novel didn't feel so much like fiction. Today I finished the book, read from a different perspective than what I started with, and in a different world. As I read I kept wondering *How do you gather your thoughts in such a situation; how do you make sense of such insanity?* I can't imagine.
My heart is with the victims and heroes from Las Vegas, 10/01/17.
16 of 19 people found this review helpful