Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin

Published: May 24, 2022

Wednesday Books

Pages: 298

Genre: YA Fiction

KKECReads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.

Julia Lynn Rubin lives the writer’s life in Brooklyn, where she finished an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults at The New School in 2017. For three years, she served as a writing mentor for Girls Write Now, New York City’s premiere writing program for high school girls. Julia has been writing books, poems, and stories since first grade and loves reading about everything from film analysis to psychology. Julia is passionate about realism and diversity in teen literature. She hopes to one day own a French bulldog, pug, Boston terrier, or perhaps a mix of all three. She loves indie films, drag shows, and spending as much time as possible at the beach.

Protect the girls.

Arlee Gold has always lived in the shadow of her successful mom; even after everything Arlee’s been through, her mother still expects nothing but the best. In an effort to get her daughter back on track after a less-than-stellar few school years, she’s enrolled Arlee as a legacy at Camp Rockaway, an elite college prep summer camp deep in the North Carolina wilderness. On her own for the first time and buzzing with anxiety, Arlee is intimidated by the camp’s shiny exterior, suffocated by the relentless, thick summer heat…and tormented by the ceaseless stream of crawling, slimy, flapping bugs that seem to come straight from her nightmares.

In the midst of her brewing dread, Arlee is relieved to find a queer sanctuary in her bunkmates, and is especially drawn to Winnie, the enigmatic girl who sleeps in the bunk above her. Except Arlee starts to notice whispers in her wake, and how so many others recoil from her as if she were as creepy as the insects that terrify her. Struggling in her prep classes and feeling increasingly paranoid, Arlee can no longer suppress her panicked “glitches.” Winnie, too, seems to become wary, and Arlee’s worst fear is confirmed: even here, in the place her mother promised was “going to change everything,” she’s been found out as a freak.

Just as she’s facing a summer completely alone, another rising junior slips her a mysterious invitation, and Arlee finds herself caught up in a secret society that expects its sisterhood to protect each other from any and all who would harm them―by any means necessary. Here, finally, Arlee feels like a part of something bigger, something that matters. Guided by their cunning leader, Lisha, a rising senior with a smile sharp enough to cut bone, the sisterhood will stand against any threat, unquestioningly. But when Winnie is put in grave danger, Arlee is forced to confront just how far her sisters will go, and whether they truly protect the girls.

“It’s like we’re entering a different world.”

Arlee is spending her summer at a prestigious summer camp that is supposed to help her prepare for college. She is coming in as a legacy since her mother attended the camp as a teen. Between the courses and activities, Arlee meets a girl she has feelings for and joins a secret society. Suddenly, Arlee finds herself doing things that go against human nature… and staying silent at night costs her soul.

This was a wild ride. The twists and turns were so well executed. The writing was fantastic, and the characters were deeply defined.

Arlee was struggling with a lot of internal chaos. Her parents divorced. Her pressure to get into a good college. Making her mom happy. She was an interesting character, trapped between doing what was and what was morally right.

The characters were all fleshed out in ways that brought them to life. The scenery was described so vividly that you almost felt the bugs and humidity.

The twists were delivered in such a nonchalant way that you find yourself glued to the pages. I could not put this book down. I was captivated by the madness and internal struggles Arlee faced.

Everything about this novel is excellent. This is described as a young adult thriller, but I enjoyed it. The twists were unpredictable, and I loved that. Not knowing who to trust or what would happen next, it kept me glued to the pages.

The ending was deliciously devious. This would make an excellent series if done correctly. The deceit and old money of it all. The chaos and confusion. Brilliant writing, beautiful use of emotional themes, and the eternal struggle of wanting to fit in. This book leaves you pondering, what would I do?

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