Audiobook Review: Bite by K.S. Merbeth
A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Bite by K.S. Merbeth
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
Series: Stand Alone/Book 1
Publisher: Hachette Audio (July 26, 2016)
Length: 9 hrs
Author Information: Website | Twitter
Narrator: Stephanie Willis
The publisher description for Bite is pretty vague, but I actually think this works in favor of the novel. When you pick up a book set in a post-nuclear apocalypse wasteland and speculate on what the story might be about, probably a whole slew of other things will enter your mind before you think, “cannibals”. But it does make a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
In this ruined world after the bombs fell, survival ain’t easy. Lack of food and lack of clean water can kill you as easily as raiders and crazies. Especially if you’re all alone. Our protagonist, known only as “Kid”, has been traveling by herself ever since her father died a few years back. On a lonely stretch of road, she finds herself weakening due to hunger and thirst, unsure if she’ll make it long enough to reach the next town where she can replenish her supplies. Desperation can make people do stupid things, she thinks to herself as she accepts a ride from two scary strangers who stop when they see her walking and offer her a ride in their truck. It’s probably a really bad idea, but Kid would rather take her chances with Wolf and Dolly than die alone in the desert wasteland.
There was little reason for Kid to suspect that her chance meeting with the two of them would lead to an insane journey of many wild and bloody adventures. Soon, they meet up with Tank and Pretty Boy, who make up the rest of the team. Few people ask for or give real names in this world, as that would make it too easy to get attached, but regardless, the team sees something they like in Kid and decide to welcome her into their fold. That, however, was before Kid learns the truth about her new adopted ragtag family. Known as “Sharks”, they’re despised throughout the wasteland for a certain lifestyle choice they’ve decided to make—like dining upon their fellow human beings. By the time Kid finds out though, she’s already accepted her place in the crew, and cannibals or not, when a new enemy threatens her friends, she will do what she can to fight back beside them.
Author K.S. Merbeth takes us into what would be a familiar setting for sci-fi and fantasy readers, but she also peppers her post-apocalyptic world with some flair of her own. The wasteland is a haunting, desolate, and grey place, but there is also a strange beauty to it, which if you’ve ever played the games in the Fallout series you could probably understand. From savage raiders and paranoid townies to the lonesome wastelanders and megalomaniacs in radio towers, I was getting major Fallout and Mad Max vibes from this one (which is awesome, obviously.)
Bite also does a fine job obliterating the lines between the “good” and “bad” guys, painting our little group of cannibals as the unlikely heroes of this gory tale. Yes, they eat human flesh, but…but…but…they’re just so lovable! Wait, did I really just say that? The character development is excellent in this novel, and I guess it really had to be in order to convince us that these people and their abhorrent dietary preferences are worthy of our time and attention. Merbeth succeeded marvelously, creating a cast of engaging characters that I just couldn’t help but cheer for. Each individual had their irresistible quirks, like Wolf and his devil-may-care approach to leadership, Dolly and her taciturn badass persona, Tank and his surprisingly gentle devotion to his friends, Pretty Boy and the emotional scars he hides under his self-interest and false bravado. And finally, there’s Kid, who certainly isn’t the boldest or strongest of protagonists, but her resourcefulness has kept her alive in this rough world for a long time. She won me over quickly, the same way Wolf and the others were charmed by her honesty and good heart so that even her blundering inexperience and mistakes were tolerated, albeit with some exasperation. In most other books, this rough group of cannibals and killers would be the villains, but thanks to clever use of humor and a healthy dose of surreal sardonic fun, I found it remarkably easy to love and care about these characters and appreciate the fresh dynamics between them.
The plot was entertaining, but also relatively uncomplicated as these types of stories often are. Pacing does seem off in a few places, which can be felt in the rushed ending, or in the glossing over of a major character’s death, plus a few minor hiccups like the sparse characterizations of big baddies like the Queen or the Saint. But are these deal breakers? Certainly not. My overall enjoyment was unaffected despite some of these weaknesses. This book delivered exactly what I was expecting: a fast, fun, explosive adventure.
Audiobook comments: I was fortunate be given the opportunity to review the audio edition of Bite. This is the first audiobook I’ve listened to narrated by Stephanie Willis, and I was very impressed by her performance. At first, I worried that her voice might be a little too mature and feminine for Kid, who is supposed to be a small, mousy sixteen-year-old girl frequently mistaken for a boy. However, all my doubts were erased within the first hour. Willis has an incredible talent for portraying a wide range of emotions, and her narration added a poignant, extra layer to the story. When Kid was trudging through the desert wasteland on her own, I could sense the desperation and hopelessness. During the action scenes, the panic and confusion really came through. Willis also did a phenomenal job on the dialogue, giving each character a voice to match their personality. She was able to emphasize the humor and other nuances in the back-and-forth conversations as well, and there was never a problem distinguishing which character was speaking. I ended up really enjoying this audiobook. If Bite sounds like a book you’d like to check out, I would recommend giving this version a go.
Glad you enjoyed this! I am so behind with review books (and I do plan on reading this) but I did crack open the book and read the first few pages, and I was hooked.
It really is quite addictive! Can’t wait to hear what you think of it 🙂
I think it would take great skill to make you root for characters that are not exactly the best examples of humanity! This one definitely goes on my list, thanks for sharing! 🙂
I do love books that play with role reversals and such – makes things more interesting! In this case, it was fun that the “monsters” were our “heroes” 🙂
It sounds like it would make a good TV show (or movie), I don’t see myself reading this kind of books (which doesn’t mean that I don’t think they’re good, it’s just that I prefer watching rather than reading action adventure stories set in post-apocalyptic worlds). Sounds good though and I’m glad you liked it! 🙂
This one would make an excellent movie! I can almost picture it like a Mad Max type action adventure, so I know what you’re saying 🙂
I bought this the week it was released but haven’t picked it up yet either. After reading your review, I’m glad I did. It really is amazing when an author can make you like individuals who you know deep down you should hate. I’ve heard that a lot about the MC in Caroline Kepnes’ “You.” Sounds like a fun ride.
I hope you’ll get a chance to read it soon! It’s quite a quick read, because it was so addictive I just flew through it. I look forward to your thoughts!
You had me at “Mad Max” vibe and “Bite also does a fine job obliterating the lines between the “good” and “bad” guys, painting our little group of cannibals as the unlikely heroes of this gory tale. Yes, they eat human flesh, but…but…but…they’re just so lovable! ”
Lol, this sounds like a great escape and the characters pretty remarkable. So glad you had fun with this, Mogsy. Will definitely keep this one in mind.
Have a great weekend 🙂
Haha, I thought the cannibals were this book’s best surprise! In any other book they would be despised and painted as the psycho bad guys, so hey at least they have their time in the spotlight here 🙂
I did have a look at it on NG but I just do not know…..I do want it, but arghhh, no time
It was really fun. I am sometimes a little unsure when it comes to debuts as well, since they are a complete unknown. But I am glad I read this.
This sounds more like my kind of read. Post nuclear apocalyptic wasteland Oh yes. Get in my life.
I think you’ll really enjoy this one!
This book was not what I expected, but turned out to love it
Yay, so happy to hear that!
I’m glad to hear the audio version was good. I really appreciate the review of the narrator. I’m always on the look out for when I can grab an audio.
I’m glad that was helpful, for audiobooks I always try to make a few comments about the narration, hopefully to give potential listeners an idea of what it’s like. But samples are always the best way to go if you want to see if you like a reader 🙂
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This book was not what I expected, but turned out to love it There was little reason for Kid to suspect that her chance meeting with the two of them would lead to an insane journey of many wild and bloody adventures.