I don’t normally do book reviews.
Hell, apparently I don’t normally use my WordPress to post blogs. /hangs head in shame
Today’s not a day for normalcy.
Yesterday, while browsing my Facebook newsfeed like any other day, I stumbled upon a post from my favorite author. In it, she referenced a book that had been banned from Amazon due to the fact that it broke Amazon’s TOS regarding child pornography. She said that a line had to be drawn, and while she’s absolutely in support of fellow writers who choose taboo topics, this one was too far.
Just as the phrase “don’t look down” encourages you do just that, banning books sparks an interest and curiosity that does not quiet until satiated. My author’s post had not mentioned the book title or the author because she didn’t want anyone to personally attack a fellow author. She simply wanted it to be known that she did not approve of such a topic. Because of this, she discretionally deleted every comment that mentioned the author or the title.
I searched high and low for this book, all the while becoming more intrigued and dying to find it. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t seeking out the book because my author dubbed it child pornography. I was interested in a book that pushed buttons, approached taboo topics, explored real life scenarios without any regard for the reader’s emotional state, and hell, it was BANNED. I had to read it. Images of books in flames danced like sugarplums in my head.
I finally found it with the help of an internet-savvy coworker. It had been banned from Amazon’s ebook selection but not in paperback form. While I love the smell and feel of a book IRL, I have developed quite the affinity for my kindle app and ebooks in general. In today’s want-it-gotta-have-it-now society, I didn’t want to wait for shipping (no, even my 2-day Amazon Prime shipping doesn’t scratch that itch as immediately as I’d like), nor did I want to put off getting lost in this book. Also, my doctor encouraged me to not carry the whole kitchen sink in my purse, so I tend to shy away from physical copies.
I finally linked over to the author’s Facebook page. Lo and behold, she provided a link to Smashbooks ebook format. I approved the Paypal transaction without hesitation. I imported The Wild by K. Webster into my Google Play Books app and the image of the hunky, rugged antagonist loaded across my phone screen.
Webster leads off her novel with a disclaimer:
The Wild is an extremely taboo story. Most will find that the themes in this book will make you incredibly uncomfortable or maybe even offend you. This book is only for the brave, the open-minded, and the ones who crave love in even the most dismal of situations. Extreme sexual themes and violence in certain scenes, which could trigger emotional distress, are found in this story. If you are sensitive to heavy taboo themes, then this story is not for you.
Seriously, you’ve been warned.
Don’t say I didn’t try.
You’re probably going to cringe many, many, many times.
Even if you’re on the fence, it’s probably not a good idea to proceed.
Some authors’ opinions that I digested before downloading the book suggested that this warning was not enough. That it did not adequately prepare the reader for the mature content within. I disagree.
However, for those that want to be better prepared (and perhaps desensitized) to the taboo themes within, read on.
Spoiler/Trigger Warnings ahead. I repeat, SPOILERS ahead.
I don’t normally mind a spoiler. It certainly did not affect my interaction with The Wild. I feel as though, even knowing everything I did going in, my heart and mind were both fucked thoroughly while reading (in the best of ways, of course). Because what is a book if it isn’t a tool to rip apart your current state of being and try to help you rebuild into something better or simply different? What is a book if it doesn’t test you, influence you, and bring out your inner demons? To leave you raw and open?
Triggers/themes include strong violence and sex. I will further define the sexual theme into the impressions that I’ve heard from others – not necessarily my own feelings: rape, statutory rape, incest, sexual molestation, sexual abuse, child pornography. Each of these is semi-related to the book. An argument can also be made for each of these that they simply do not apply. I guess it depends on your perspective as you dive into this read.
As for me, I consider this book an unconventional love story. If anyone could possibly succeed at making these mature and triggering themes romantic, Webster did. Webster introduced the most nontraditional circumstances and the most nontraditional relationship inside the constructs of a literary world in which they actually work. If there’s ever a time when those mature themes are okay, it’s now.
Am I justifying any of these themes in real life? Hell no. But that’s the difference in reading/writing/absorbing a work of fiction and living the same such circumstances in real life. I read The Wild with an open mind, holding no judgment on either main character, understanding that within the literary constructs of this fictional world, it works. Is there ever a situation where these circumstances would be acceptable off the pages? Well, that’s for you to deconstruct.
We all categorize words and actions as moral or immoral, good or bad, acceptable or not, crossing the line or toeing it. We use our social constructs to makes these judgment calls, which are never easy and not always right. We use our current situation, our upbringing, our moral compass to pass judgments on others, when we may not even be seeing the slightest fraction of the circumstances that affected another’s decision. We pass judgment on others when we wouldn’t make a similar decision, but the old adage of walking in another’s shoes couldn’t be more accurate. We really don’t know.
Did Webster’s novel provide a comfortable and welcoming place to lay your judgmental opinions? Absolutely not.
Did she attempt to coddle her readers, staying strictly on the moral side of the line? Nope.
Did The Wild provide a life-changing experience in which every reader recalled their judgmental and morally stated opinions, frolicking off into a world of debauchery and taboo? If it did, Webster wouldn’t ever have to work again.
But it didn’t. What it did do, for me at least, was to provide a social construct – a literary world – in which NOT OKAY was OKAY. Does this book provide the potential for victim blaming/shaming? Sure it can. Does it provide excuses for incest or rape? It could. But every single written word (or spoken word, or even thought) can be tangled, twisted, explained away. Everyone – everyone – is afforded a different perspective, even if only slightly angled away from another’s. Everyone will take something differently from this novel and every other they read. Whether your thoughts aligned with the protagonist’s or not, you thought, and that’s all K. Webster wants from you. That’s all any writer wants.
This novel was HOT, if any such word could be used for such a mind-fuck of a book. It was significantly more well-written than any literotica I’ve read on similar topics. It was tasteful while still being taboo, dirty, nondiscretionary, sexy. It was romantic and emotionally trying and heart-warming while still making the reader’s panties a little wet.
If you’re open to the literary themes and triggers I posted midway through this article, I urge you to seek out The Wild and give it a shot. Spit on the book halfway through if you want. Throw it across the room (hell, if I hadn’t been reading on my phone, I might have). Burn it in your next bonfire. Or, devour it, let the words seep into your veins and alter your rose-colored glasses just the slightest bit, and then pass it on.