Reviewed by Scott Cahan for Readers' Favorite
Driven to the Hilt: The Deepest Cut by D.G. Lamb is one of the most original and well-told stories I’ve ever read. First-time author D.G. Lamb has established himself as a new talent in young adult novels with this first effort. At its core, this is a survival tale that reminded me a little of other great books like The Martian and Swiss Family Robinson. Driven to the Hilt, however, took the basic concept of man vs. nature in a totally original direction. The story takes place in a colony of Earth on another planet in the not-too-distant-future. An eleven-year-old boy named Joshua finds himself alone after a harrowing encounter with a dreaded creature called a spiderviper. The event is the first time a spiderviper has ever ventured out of its home in the “swamp” and into the populated area where the humans live. The city is built on a concrete platform, high enough to keep humans safe from the dangerous animals in the swamp. Various events lead Joshua to run from the authorities and he accidentally falls down the steep wall that leads into the swamp. From there, we follow Joshua as he struggles to survive in the alien world that he’s trapped in. When he eventually finds a way to go back to the world of humans to get some of his necessities, he finds that there are just as many threats to his life in the city as there are in the swamp.
Author D.G. Lamb has a smooth yet intelligent style of writing. In Driven to the Hilt, he gives us lots of details about everything from the cooking ingredients that Joshua used to the intricacies of the swamp’s ecosystem. He makes everything sound believable and interesting. He also did a great job of making his main character feel real. In eleven-year-old Joshua, we’re given an extremely likable character who is very smart and resourceful and is easy to feel sympathy for. The side characters in the story were also well fleshed out and each was interesting in their own unique way. The unpredictable story arc was probably my favorite aspect. I’m not exaggerating when I say the story plot took 5 or 6 turns into directions that I had not predicted. There were even a couple of times that I was unsure if I liked the direction it was going. But, then a few pages later, I was completely hooked again and marveling at how much I was enjoying what was happening. By the end of the book, every experience that Joshua is forced to endure, and every character that he is forced to interact with all come together. It’s like a great impressionistic painting. When you look at it up close you see lots of beautiful colors, but when you step back and look at the finished product you find yourself in awe at how all the colors come together. That’s how I felt at the end of Driven to the Hilt: The Deepest Cut.