Cover Image: Primal Animals

Primal Animals

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I think this book will be appealing to any of the teens who like a bit of scifi with their thriller. I could see recommended for fans of Wilder Girls.
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I was hooked by the beginning of this book - the sense of atmosphere was well developed from the start, and I really liked Arlee and her bunkmates. Unfortunately, things seemed to shift from a slowly building sense of unease to full-throttle cult antics very abruptly, and I felt left behind in the dust. There was promise here, and I would read another work by this author, but in the end this one wasn't for me.
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Okay I finished this yesterday and needed time to sort of process this one. 

I'll start with Narration-  Suzy Jackson's narration of Primal Animals just made it all that much more enjoyable. Her tones through out this book really translated the ominous feeling that our main character Arlee gets from the infamous Camp Rockaway. 

I do think over all this is a perfect summer spooky story, the beginning does feel a little slow but I can understand that it was to set the setting for that gut punching ending. If you were a lover of The Grace Year, or Wilder Girls - this book is for you. As they say, I support women's rights & women's wrongs. 

Arlee as a main character also adds to the tension this book instils in you, through the narration you can really feel her fear but also her anger and frustration. 

I've heard multiple people say they like this book but I promise you'll like it even more with the audiobook.
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A bloody and brutal summer camp tale. It is a slow build to the action, but there is a payoff for those that wait. Will recommend to readers looking for a summer scare.
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DNF 60%

Nothing is happening and I’m quite bored with it. The only *thrilling* part was the ritual when she enters the sisterhood, but at more than halfway in the book I would have wanted answers as to her phobia of any animal that flies - what’s the deal with that? And what’s the history on this camp, the legacy of her mom?? It’s just taking way to long to even get clues to these answers and I’m not for it.
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Thank you Netgalley and Recorded Books (RB Media) for this advance listener copy in exchange for my honest review.

This book was interesting and different than anything I've read before. I wouldn't really classify it as horror, per se, as it has been classified. I would consider this more YA fiction or YA fantasy. There was a lot of gore, but not a lot of scares. There were no parts that had me creeped out, which is why I wouldn't lump it into the horror genre. All that being said, it was a very unique story. Also, fun fact, Arlee is a family name in my family, so I instantly related to the protagonist, Arlee. She was tough and weird, like me. I found her to be one of the most relatable characters I've read recently and she was significantly younger than me.

Arlee is dropped of at an elite summer camp by her mother. She is quickly introduced to a secret society and what happens after that is weird, violent and shocking. I won't divulge any more as I don't want to ruin the story.

There were a few questions that were left unanswered and I didn't really understand Arlee's aversion to insects, but all in all, it was really well done. The audio was fantastic. A solid 3.75 stars. It was left a little open ended, so there may be a sequel????.....
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(CW: Gore, death, extreme misandry, animal death).

So by the time you're done reading this (in my case, listening) you're still left confused, and feeling unfulfilled in general by this story and plotline in general. There's a secret society with way more to it than what both the main character and I signed up for. 
I mean, there was just so much death and random plot-twists that just made no sense or felt out-of-place. By the end, after the all the biggest reveals, I felt as though I listened to a story taking place in a few weeks but it felt like months were going by. The story acts in sort of a very pressing atmosphere at all times, yet the story just moves slow as molasses that as much time should be going by, feels like twice than in real time. 
Arlee was also just not a likeable main character, like at all. I didn't enjoy her thought processes, her dialogue and assumptions with/about others, a lot of things about her, just like the story, make no sense. 
For example, the story never explains why she's so deathly afraid of bugs, and why near the climax she suddenly feels okay with bugs. The closest thing I could think of was for a metaphor for Arlee coming out of her shell socially, her fear of bugs slowly dissipates in time with her social anxiety getting better as apart of her feeling belonging in her sisterhood. 
I liked this narrator, she did a wonderful job of maintaining tone and atmosphere, her voice was a great match for Arlee, but at least I didn't find the narrator annoying. She hit every exclamation and climax in the story absolutely on point. 
I digress, this story would probably be a good first horror novel for a newbie to delve into, given that its not very scary, but has a super unsettling atmosphere with very manageable gore. The spooky atmosphere of a summer camp was wonderful in terms of summer reading, however I feel the characters are never really delved upon and instead just serve as background noise. Pretty much only three characters are made central to the story, and everyone else pops up when the plot needs some filler. 
I'm not saying to not read this book, but I am saying maybe do it passively, via audiobook.
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This book was definitely interesting, and I think I really enjoyed it overall. But at the same time … it was also quite weird. It didn’t feel like a horror at all, unless it’s only classified as one because of the gore. The synopsis of this book built up a story that just wasn’t delivered for me on the page, which left something to be desired. My expectations didn’t match up.

I also was quite disappointed in the ending. I was ready for a big take down or some kind of confrontation, but instead, Arlee just left the camp, went home, and then off-page turned in the cult. A couple of times, I felt like pieces of the plot didn’t quite add up with Arlee’s thought process. Some things seemed incredibly obvious that I didn’t realize they were meant to be a hint until Arlee suddenly didn’t know this information anymore. For example, I would have loved for Caroline’s involvement to be more of a twist. It almost felt like it was supposed to be a twist, but it was stated earlier in the book that she was involved, that I’m not sure why Arlee went to her in the last couple of chapters and was surprised she drugged her.

Overall, what really pulled me in was the voice and atmosphere of this book. While I had some issues with the delivery of the plot/twists/horror-nature of the book, I truly did love the dark, ominous nature of this book and will be picking up Julia Lynn Rubin’s next book!
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Enjoyment: 3.5
Total rating: 3.93


Arlee feels like she has always lived in her mother's shadow. With the added pressure of being perfect, she fails to live up to her mother's harsh expectations. Her mother enrolls her at an exclusive summer program, hoping to, well, fix her. Not a fun way to start a summer.

At Camp Rockaway, nothing and no one are what they seem; before she knows it, Arlee will discover exactly what looms in the woods. After all, she is a legacy.

I will preface my review by advising you to check the content warnings before going into this book. I did deduct points for the way some of it was handled.

I loved the queer representation in this book, it felt natural, and it was meaningful to the plot. I also really enjoyed the overall story and tone of the prose. Primal Animals is committed to its themes of cult (secret society) and darkness. I enjoyed Rubin's writing enough to pick up other books by her, but Primal Animals wasn't for me. Some of the contents were too disturbing; I like my dark horror less graphic and shocking. If you have a strong stomach, you will enjoy it more than I did; Be warned - Rubin goes FAR.

Primal Animals is a fast-paced read and utterly unpredictable – two things I enjoy.

Suzy Jackson did a phenomenal job narrating this book. While staying true to the source, she brought a lightness that I appreciated.


Disclaimer: In exchange for an honest review, I am thankful to the publishers and NetGalley for providing a copy of Primal Animals.
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Arlee Gold is afraid of bugs. She's on her way to the same summer camp her mother went to in her youth. On the outside it looks too good to be true, fancy, beautiful guests, one in particular catches her eye and a crush develops pretty quickly.
Between being treated like an outcast for reasons she can't quite figure out and being invited to join a secret society, Arlee has a lot to figure out.
This book was weird, and it sort of felt weird for no reason? By the end of the book I felt like there were points trying to be made and this book was hanging out just slightly to the left of the goal?
I enjoyed this book, but I was ready for something slightly more.
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Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin

Arlee Gold goes to summer camp that her mom attended when she was her age.  Her mom has some reputation from the camp and it carries forward for Arlee.  Arlee is a little bit odd in her mannerism she does not have many friends and does not make friends easy but going to camp she wanted this to change.  Arlee is a gay teen.

The description what I said above you would think this is an everyday read but it is not the rituals and weird stuff in the book just did not work for me.  The descriptions where creepy so the horror aspect I guess was spot on but the story plot just felt so broken and weird.

The protect the girls aspect did not work for me it was over the top to much in my opinion. The author missed the mark on this story it was so far fetched in some aspect and some aspect it was interesting.  The rituals in it that the girls participated in was not that bad it was the other stuff to it.  I know the story is dark but it just went beyond where it needed to be.

The cult feel and the behavior of all the women covering up all the bad things going on was just not working for me. It took 85% of the book before you get to this in the book.  The blurb of the book just did not pan out the way the book was put together.  I hate being critical because I tend to be fair to authors because they put there heart and soul into their writing.  This was just a flop for me it was just to weird all the way around.  The only part I liked was Arlee and roommate lesbian love for each other.

The narrator Suzy Jackson did a great job with telling the story but it is not her fault for the flop.

Thank you to Netgalley and RB Media for a free copy of the audio book for an honest review.
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Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Robin was a book I couldn't put down (or turn off, as I happened to be listening to the audiobook). That isn't to say I enjoyed the book. In fact, the further into the book, the more I found myself exclaiming "WTF?" While the book started out merely unbelievable with character relationships jumping without truly developing, it quickly turned into a literary train wreck. If you are looking for a deeply disturbing YA book that will have your jaw drop in shock, it might be worth checking out. For me, this was a complete miss for both content and writing.
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This story was super bizarre and intriguing, but it just wasn’t for me. There were parts I liked and others I could have done without. There were parts that were over the top and others that felt underdeveloped. The ending also felt rushed. I did like the secret society aspect and Arlee did make a good unreliable narrator. 

2.5 rounded to 3
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I enjoyed the narrator of Primal Animal. I felt like they did a great job bringing the story to life. However, I found the story to be a bit disjointed and not all that enjoyable. I feel like it just didn’t make sense. In addition, the way it ended was very blunt and matter of fact but without any explanation just implication that o was upset about it.
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I was excited for this book from the moment I saw the cover, but unfortunately I just wanted a bit more from it. Think and additional 100 pgs building out characters and lore would have helped a lot. 

The queer romance seemed like an add on because we never learned much about the love interest. She was just kind of there and… well *spoilers*. I would have liked more time getting to know her and the other campers more.

I typically don’t mind gore in horror books, but so much of it is in this book was not explained or tied back so it just seemed kind of pointless. I think I more time spent expanding the lore would have help. Additionally the book never managed to build the tension that I typically like from horror novel. Maybe someone with a fear of insects would feel differently, but for me a spider hanging out in a wall is enough to make me start to get nervous. 

While the book was enjoyable at times, I had high expectations that it didn’t quite meet.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an eARC.
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Trigger Warnings: Underage drinking, animal corpse/death, past cheating, child abuse, corpse, drugging, vomit, homophobia, murder, panic attacks, racism, self harm, sexism, sexual harassment, violence

Representation: Queer, Lesbian, Gay, Trans

Primal Animals is a YA horror about Arlee who is attending a college prep summer camp. While there, Arlee develops feelings for one of her bunk mates. When she is then chosen to join a secret society, Arlee is asked to do something extremely dangerous.

This book was so scary! Although I’m also a baby when it comes to this stuff. The story is very engaging and a quick read. This is a great book for the beginning of summer! Summer camp and a sapphic romance was a perfect balance for the creepy horror that felt like storytelling around a fire. This book was very suspenseful and kept me on the edge of my seat! The story has many twists and turns that I never saw coming. 

The characters in this book were great! Arlee has such great development and the other characters as well. There was also great representation of the world we live in, where queerness is not our only identity. I also really appreciated Arlee for her depth and thought the author did a great job with writing her. My only critique would be the balance between creating this world and the plot. The ending feels a bit rushed due to so much world set-up.

The narrator did a great job and truly brought these characters to life!
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I received an advanced audiobook copy from Netgalley for review purposes. This in no way influenced my review all opinions are my own. 

*Before picking up this book read the trigger warnings! 

This story is so disturbing, anxiety-inducing and shocking but I couldn't stop listening to it! It read like a modern day Lord of the Flies but with an elite college prep summer camp backdrop. Just when you think things are starting to settle down more secrets and lies sneak up on you! Noone is as they seem in this story! NOONE!!! Its human nature at its worst and most raw animalistic form and teenage love in its purest moments. And a secret society that will blow your mind! The very last line of the book made my jaw drop! It truly left you saying wtf?! 

The narrator Suzy Jackson did an amazing job! The transitions from character to character were perfect and distinct and honestly she just enhanced the book so much more. I don't think it would've hit as hard if I was reading it myself. Suzy draws you in from the first line. It was like listening to a friend spill the tea lol. 

I'm giving this book 4/5 stars because it truly is disturbing ,leaves a pit of dread in your stomach while you're constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop and it's addicting (I dont know what that says about me) and I'm pretty sure I have now developed pteronarcophobia
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3.5 Stars

I really liked the narrator, she was able to help assist me through the novel for I know I wouldn't have been able to finish on my own. 

Love the LGBTQ in it and Cult vibes, however, there wasn't a lot of actual horror in it. At 68% of the audiobook was when things started to get interesting. But most of the 'horror' element, in the beginning, was about the main character's anxiety.

Would recommend Audiobook, a mid-tier story.
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I really liked the summer camp part of this book, though this summer camp is way different than my idea of one. The friendships made were special and necessary. I'm not really sure how I feel about this book but I'm wondering where the fantasy part came in, I never saw it. There were some good parts and some horrifying parts.
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Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for an ALC of this!

I really enjoyed this one, and I'm glad I waited for the audiobook! I thought the pacing was good, a great narrator, and overall a great read!
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