I looked forward to this book mainly due to the premise which sounded intriguing just by the summary alone. And while the basis for the story's concept was pretty strong, the set-up of the world (a desolated, post-apocalyptic place where a virus called Ferae has turned most humans into savage, mutated creatures) is pretty much standard YA dystopian fare. But I'm not complaining. There's a reason why I'm drawn to these types of books -- they're exciting, they're intense, adventurous, interesting... if written properly.
And ultimately, my love of a YA dystopia comes down to a simple factor: how this author depicts his or her post-apocalyptic dystopian society differently from others running on this same trend, and how well the author incorporates this idea using well-developed characters and a good plot to follow with.
Inhuman already had a good premise going for it, though a little vague. Delaney "Lane" Park McEvoy (she of whom I had been referring to as simply "Delaney Park" because I kept forgetting she has a last name) lives in a societal safe haven away from the rest of the American nation which has turned into a wilderness of life infected by the Ferae Naturae virus. Due to certain reasons (big corporate greed and the fascination of rich people's need to play god in this world), this virus broke out and life became chaotic. I'm sparing the details since I don't really remember all of it anyway -- something about the richest company during that time, called Titan, playing around with animal DNA because the CEO wanted to include a centaur or something like that into her amusement park-like mazes as entertainment. But Ferae broke out, people became infected, and apparently the virus spread like rabies (which isn't really a rabies-like virus) is turning all humans into savage animals when infected -- a blood-borne pathogen, if you will, that affects a human's mental faculties and turns them into wild animals. I was still trying to understand the nature of Ferae, but then the action started, so I just kind of shrugged and moved on.
In order to repent for this problem, Titan's CEO builds a wall, isolating the uninfected half of the population in a safe bubble from the rest of the population in the eastern part of the country now known as The Feral Zone. And this wall is safe guarded by Titan-employed line guards to keep each half in their designated sides on the wall. Familiar set-up, interesting concept, nonetheless.
Anyway, the rest of the story details how Lane must go into The Feral Zone in order to save her father's life. I like how, in the beginning, it was supposed to be a simple task for Lane. She was to find her father and tell him the situation so that he could perform a "fetch" (retrieving items in The Feral Zone for clients on the other side of the quarantine wall for money). When she couldn't find her father, eventually, she ends up having to do the fetch herself. Adventures ensue.
As I said, the premise of this book was good to begin with. The first half of the book was also quite intense and exciting as we got introduced to the The Feral Zone with Lane as our guide. She's got a good voice and tone and I actually enjoyed following along with her, as she also shows us that one can be a kickbutt heroine and take care of herself, without also being that annoyingly stupid type who tries too hard to be tough and gets herself into troublesome situations -- which eventually require a man to come to her rescue. There are various situations in which Lane manages to pull herself out of danger, or to stay out of danger all together, and this works for me.
Rafe was a boy I couldn't quite put my finger on. While at first I thought he was a douche for being rude, arrogant and seemingly dangerous, he surprises you by using that jerk of a personality to become charming at the same time. He kind of just sneaks up on you. But then, he kept reminding me of all the other douche main characters you loved to hate, and by then I couldn't figure out how I managed to stop disliking him. Rafe has an interesting history and an interesting lifestyle; and his survivalistic mode is understandable. It's really just HIM I have trouble understanding.
Everson is the typical good man, stoic, intelligent, lovely, heart of gold, Mr. Congeniality and... well, boring. I have little to say about him, mainly because he doesn't stray far from the standard descriptions. There was maybe once or twice in the book that he surprised me a little bit, but then it didn't seem too significant, so I didn't take much note of it.
The ideas that went into the effects of Ferae become quite fun and intriguing the more that Lane learns from others about it. There's a very great suspension of disbelief being tossed around the more scientific topics as well: the human/animal mutations (both feral and manimal), a specific number of virus strains being known to be in existence, the animal/animal mutations called "mongrels", the fact that second and third generation offspring of mongrels and manimals don't become feral and don't transfer the virus if they bite...
These are all really creative and interesting, but only if you don't really try to think about them or analyze them. Otherwise, you just end up continuously asking yourself: "Hmm... is that even possible?"
Anyway, story-wise, Inhuman had a lot of good going for it. But the second half of the book reminded me of the word "Deadline". Because that's how it felt -- the rest of the story seemed rushed and the climax and twists and conclusions felt underdeveloped. It was as if we got to a point where the story needed to find a proper ending, and well, there IS a properly thought out ending in outline form... but, how to write it? And then we run out of time and simply patch things up the best that we can with deux ex machina tricks and supposed surprising occurrences of the emotional kind that ended up going by so quickly that I didn't even have time to react to them. I wish I could point out a couple instances at the end of the book that caught me off-guard (and not in a good way), but then we'd get into spoilery territory, and I honestly don't really like including spoilers in my reviews if I can help it, even WITH tags.
Finally, the romance... I wasn't really too bothered by it, honestly, because it felt kind of underdeveloped and placed in the sidelines. So it's not that I didn't enjoy it, but I just didn't really think about it too much aside from, "Oh, we've got a triangle at hand now", but since it didn't really take off in a significant fashion, I've got no complaints about it despite how much I dislike triangles (or any kind of relationship polygon).
Final Conclusion: Great premise, good characters, decent writing, intact story, great imagery and creativeness... I enjoyed it even if it wasn't the best and even if it was just another one of your typical YA dystopian affairs. I'll keep an eye out for the second book since I'm intrigued to know where Lane, Rafe, and Everson go from here; most especially Lane since I overall liked her the most of all the characters.