Monday, March 18, 2013

STUNG by Bethany Wiggins

About the Book
Releases April 2nd, 2013 by Walker Childrens
304 Pages

There is no cure for being stung.

Fiona doesn’t remember going to sleep. But when she opens her eyes, she discovers her entire world has been altered—her house is abandoned and broken, and the entire neighborhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right hand—a black oval with five marks on either side—that she doesn’t remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. She’s right.

Those bearing the tattoo have turned into mindless, violent beasts that roam the streets and sewers, preying upon the unbranded while a select few live protected inside a fortress-like wall, their lives devoted to rebuilding society and killing all who bear the mark.

Now Fiona has awakened branded, alone—and on the wrong side of the wall.

The Afterglow:

I just finished a NetGalley e-ARC of this book, and I'm giddy with excitement over this series. Having read and loved Bethany Wiggins' debut, SHIFTING (Afterglow review here), I jumped at the opportunity for an early look at STUNG, the first book in a new series.

My initial thoughts were that this had some of the same elements I loved from THE MAZE RUNNER (Afterglow review here):
  • unreliable protagonist with a compromised memory
  • hints about some horrible disease
  • a giant wall between safety and horror
  • special terms specific to this universe
  • twisty plot that plays with the concepts of good/bad, obedience/rebellion
  • a balance of hope and despair
This is just to point out similarities within the YA dystopia/thriller genre, and not to imply any kind of copy-catting. STUNG is unique in many ways. One of my favorite ways is the Sleeping Beauty retelling aspect. I also love that Fiona, our first-person protagonist is not hardened against the world. In fact, the last she can remember, she was only thirteen. She woke up four years older but with all the emotions and memories of a thirteen-year-old. That's an ambitious undertaking for any author, but Bethany Wiggins does a great job showing how a thirteen-year-old would act when thrust into a situation--and a body--that demands she behave like an older person. I read a scathing review of this book (I must stop reading those) that questioned a lot of Fiona's reactions. That reviewer seemed to think she was reading about Lara Croft. Fiona is not Lara Croft. She's Fiona Tarsis, a seventeen-year-old girl who can't remember the past four years of her life. A prodigious pianist who is used to comforts and protection. Characterization is one of the areas Bethany Wiggins excels at! Recall my SHIFTING review, wherein I raved about the character Maggie Mae, as one of the most complete, realistic characters I'd ever read. Particularly in a high-concept novel, it's a feat to include this depth of characterization, if only because the author is usually so busy fleshing out a whole new world and keeping the pace lively. 

Fast-paced is how I would describe STUNG. It really did catch me up in the beginning and not let go until the ride was over. I loved the romance. I felt I was watching two people with a shadowy history as childhood acquaintances come to see each other in a new light, and they fall in love at a human pace. Although I love a rip-roaring action pace as much as the next YA dystopia reader, I like my romance to be more thoughtfully paced, a la Katniss and Peeta. 

As a loose retelling of Sleeping Beauty, it has a fantastic twist in the end that puts Fiona in the Prince role, so to speak. And there is lots of kissing. :)

Who will love STUNG? Fans of SHIFTING, THE MAZE RUNNER, THE HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT, and anybody who craves action in their fiction. There's no shortage of it here!

p.s. Don't you just love this cover?

Find Bethany: Website | Goodreads | Twitter
Find Stung: Goodreads | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository | IndieBound

Operation Awesome will be joining the STUNG blog tour on March 27-28.


  1. I have never read the Maze Runner! I'll have to try it out. Thanks for the review!!! :)

    1. It's by James Dashner. I think you'll like it. Thank you for stopping by, Bethany! It was a real privilege to read STUNG, and I'm looking forward to the blog tour!

  2. I have the Maze Runner but haven't started it yet... and have been seeing STUNG around for while now on the internet but didn't realize it wasn't out yet. After reading this review, however, I can't wait to a) read Maze Runner so I know what to expect soon for b) STUNG, which I am now anxiously anticipating! :D Can't wait to read it! Sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing, Katrina!

    P.S. YAYYYYY Kissing!!!!

    1. (Psst, I like STUNG better, for romantic reasons.) But MAZE RUNNER is very worth reading for other reasons! Enjoy both stories!

  3. Wow, this is the first time I hear about this book (although I might have seen the cover). From your review is seems really interesting and I reall enjoyed Maze Runner, so I'm sure I'll luke Stung. I can't wait to read it! Thank you for sharing! :)

    1. You're very welcome, Bosix! STUNG is going to be very big. I'm hoping for a movie. :)

  4. This sounds amazing! I would definitely like to check it out.

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