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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Primal Instinct by Minerva Hart is speculative dystopian fiction in a near future where the environmental assault of man has finally destroyed the planet, and those who have survived no longer have any of the benefits enjoyed during the time of the Dry World. America now has only two masters: the polluted, acidic muck of water that has invaded the land, scorching and killing, and the tycoons who have bought themselves modern-day fiefdoms of what remains, complete with entire populations reduced to slavery. Science has taken some weird turns and the splicing and dicing of DNA to cross mutate what's left of man and what's even less left of animal has created characters like Freddie: a mostly human, scaled anomaly who appears to be the only individual that a captured siren does not want to immediately shred and eat alive. His job is to get the creature, now known as Perdita, to not resist testing. What he did not expect was the bond that would form, or how earth-shattering it would be when Perdita's fate is revealed. “The world is dead, hundreds of thousands of animal species are gone, countless people died, and half the land mass is gone—all because the rich corporations wanted to keep getting richer, regardless of the consequences! “
Primal Instinct is not a fairy tale, but it most certainly is surprisingly heartfelt. Minerva Hart once again proves to be a powerhouse of an author with an imagination that flows from the page. The story is compelling with some unexpected twists and even elicited a chuckle when the antagonist named York is reminded by a nurse that he cannot smoke in a hospital, which is even more satisfying given what happened to land him there. Usually, in a dystopian novel, it's the world-building that I love most, but here it really is the unfettered, whole link between Perdita and Freddie, and the complicated, often rocky but always enduring relationship between Freddie and his father, Martin. Martin has a full-scale [no pun intended, really] character arc that is satisfying to witness. I'm not sure what in the world I wouldn't give for a prequel novel on Perdita and her pack. As for this pack of humans, it's interesting to see how survivors are conditioned to entrust themselves to the masters they now view as benevolent, and the enthusiasm of the mob to trust York with an offer that should be very, very easy to refuse. As Hart reminds us throughout, this isn't The Little Mermaid. Instead, it's a terrifying, beautiful, heartbreaking, and uplifting story with all the electricity of an Electrophorus. Or at least one with the same type of tail. Very highly recommended.