Wild Country (2019) is the seventh book in Anne Bishop’s series THE OTHERS and, also, the second book in her THE WORLD OF THE OTHERS series.
In Bishop’s fictional universe, the world is made up of humans — who, near as I can tell, are mostly descended from white Europeans — and the “terra indigene,” also called The Others, monstrous creatures with the outward appearance of human beings and who are, apparently, the indigenous peoples of the American continents, Africa, etc. There are shapeshifters who can shift from, say, an eagle or wolf into a human body, and Sanguinati, a cabal of blood-suckers who specialize in legal and financial matters. (It was at these realizations that I decided this was not the book or series for me, and in checking around online, it seems that I’m not the only person to have found these allusions troubling.)
The Others resent humans for their attempts to colonize Thaisia, the America-analogue, and a series of brutal massacres have been committed by each side, resulting in humans living in subservience to the Others. The Others are portrayed either as childlike innocents, with no understanding of etiquette or behavior, or as all-powerful and bloodthirsty killers. Human characters, some of whom have supernatural abilities involving intuition or manipulation of luck, are interchangeable and tend to fall on the dull side.
World-building is unsatisfying and confusing. Place-names like Chicago, Africa, and the Atlantic Ocean are spelled as “Shikago,” “Afrikah,” and “Atlantik Ocean” for reasons that go unexplained. Cars, mobile phones, and e-mail exist in this world, but the characters act and speak as though they’re stuck in a parody of an old-timey Western movie, operating general stores and saloons while lawnmen and outlaws vie for dominance. Characters rely on trains to get them to frontier outposts and a few ghost-town settlements where Humans and Others live in uneasy peace and uphold some really, really outdated ideas about gender roles.
I can’t speak to Bishop’s intent in creating this world under these specific circumstances, but I also can’t ignore the similarities between the way her non-human characters act or are viewed by human characters and condescending “colonist/pioneer narratives” written about European encounters with First Nations people and Native Americans, nor am I comfortable with the similarities between the Sanguinati and various anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
It was all too easy for me to put Wild Country down and find something else to read, and I won’t be returning to it or to THE WORLD OF THE OTHERS.
Set in the world of The Others:
I’ve never seen a DNF from you before, Jana, at least that I can remember.
If Bishop is the writer I’m thinking of, she polarizes readers; it’s definitely a love it/hate it thing.
I really disliked the novels I read that were set in this world. I was baffled by this because so many people love them. They were torture for me to finish. Torture.
I try not to DNF whenever possible, but this one … well, I think it’s obvious what I thought.
All kinds of tastes. A friend of mine loved BINTI, which I recommended, couldn’t get into THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE, and absolutely *hated* THE GOBLIN EMPEROR and did not finish it. She enjoyed MISTBORN, which I said I was only okay with but thought she might like. So, it takes all kinds I guess.
*humming* …it takes diff’rent strokes to move the world…
I have not yet read Wild Country, but the main series has humans of color, not just white Europeans. I would never recommend reading Wild Country without reading the main series. The Others choose their occupations, including whether they interact with humans. Since humans are the preferred prey of the Sanguinati, they evolved to inhabit urban areas where their prey was concentrated. Thus, the Sanguinati were also picked by the Elders to interact in official capacities with the humans. I’m sorry you dislike the book, but sometimes fiction really is just fiction. I picked up a copy of Wild Country from the library this afternoon, will eagerly read it tomorrow, and will mourn the ending of a very unique series.
If you’ve enjoyed the other books in this series, then I genuinely hope you enjoy Wild Country, as well. It was marketed to me as a good entry-point into Bishop’s universe, and I read it in that spirit.
I don’t believe that fiction can “just” be fiction; any art form, whether it’s a movie or story or painting, is a lens through which the creator and audience observe ourselves and others. By necessity, then, readers have to ask themselves what an author is saying about our world and the people who live in it, regardless of where or when a fictional story takes place.
Sounds like it’s a terrible book to start with since you don’t seem to have understood anything much about the universe. The vampires are actually quite sympathetic and all the real villains in the books I’ve read were human ..not that the Others are all Sweetness and Light mind.
If you think every author is trying to say something about this world then that’s a very strange thing to assume especially when so many authors say otherwise. I feel sorry for you that you can’t enjoy a story without assuming it has to be an allegory or something… but if Bishop is saying anything it’s a critique of colonisation, industrialism, racism and prejudice.
The big massacre was precipitated by human ‘populism’ and if it’s an analogy, it’s to Climate Change.
Silly spellings of names does annoy me though. David Weber is particularly horrible for that too
Hmm. The Sanguinati reminded me of the Italian maffia, with some Romanian vampire traits, not jews.
There are people of color in the series, in this book as well, but yes, there are more white Europeans. Based on the previous books I think the author’s intention was to create a world where, when Europeans set out to colonize,they don’t succeed, they meet with a different species that is stronger than them and does not let themselves be colonized. There are some treaties, humans are allowed to use certain territories,under supervision by the Others, humans try to break the treaties and push back the natives as European colonizers did, and fail…