Real Enough

A Wilderness Survival Novel

Fiction - Adventure
322 Pages
Reviewed on 09/30/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Real Enough: A Wilderness Survival Novel is a suspenseful adventure novel written by Jeffrey W. Tenney. The premise of the reality show was that four teams would fend for themselves on Hawkesbury Island, located in a remote area of British Columbia. Each team would have survival specialists as well as a celebrity team member. The winning team would earn a cool million dollars. The participants all had underlying motives for participating in this adventure. Some just wanted the prize money; some needed to challenge themselves; and others sought celebrity and fame. Each team was given a camping site far enough away from the others to make obeying the requirement that they not make contact with other teams relatively easy. But then something happened. The two phones each team had, to reach out to the Support Team for assistance, were non-functioning. Each team wondered how both phones could malfunction at once, and soon the participants became concerned about their well-being. Was anyone still out there to provide support? And how could they reach them?

Jeffrey W. Tenney’s Real Enough takes the reader into the great outdoors, while it also exposes them to the dark side of humanity when cultural restraints are missing. This makes it a grand psychological thriller. And while the team members do learn to coexist and cooperate despite their differences, the lone wolves or mentally unstable teammates, who got past the show’s screening process, make surviving even more problematic than the lack of support. Tenney’s premise is clever and well-thought-out, and his plot moves at a nice clip. While I’ve never seen a reality show, I am familiar with outdoor survival shows where the subject is dropped into rugged terrain and must figure out to survive on his own. Tenney’s story has the same ring of authenticity as his characters hunt, fish, and try to build the structures and gear which will enable them to survive their challenge. His characters are credible and well crafted, and their interactions and experiences in the wild make this story work well. Real Enough: A Wilderness Survival Novel is highly recommended.

Asher Syed

Real Enough: A Wilderness Survival Novel by Jeffrey W. Tenney is an adventure thriller that follows a wide range group of contestants on a survival reality television show. The prize is a cool one million dollars to the winner expected to arise from one of four teams. Cherry-picked from a field of candidates with an impressive spread of real-world skillsets—and a few celebrities mixed in to spice up the cameras—each team is dropped in their own camp, scattered around Hawkesbury Island in British Columbia, Canada. When a suspected unnatural event surges across North America, the teams find themselves stranded in a hostile environment where not everyone is willing to play fair anymore. With all manner of resources depleted and the elements pressing in, the call of nature transitions into the screams of those desperate to survive in a dog-eat-dog world that is nothing like a game.

Real Enough is quite possibly the most engrossing book I've read on nature and survivalism in a long time. Jeffrey W. Tenney delivers the goods as he deprives his characters, allowing us to witness the near-immediate collapse of civilized gamesmanship as starving and sick contestants turn on each other in William Golding-esque fashion. It took a few pages for me to figure out who was who, and having a Gray and a Gary on the same team wasn't particularly helpful, but once I was in, I was well and truly hooked. Tenney's frequent point of view shifts between multiple characters, the good, the bad, and the truly horrible, immerses us in the minds and thought processes of people as their physical health crashed and their mental fortitude torpedoed into the abyss. The ending is good but somehow left me wanting. If this is Tenney's attempt to let the reader imagine the surviving members readapting to the world once off the island, or if this is intended to be picked up and branched out into something bigger, I don't know. But it doesn't really matter. The book stands perfectly well on its own.

Vincent Dublado

Four teams with five participants each. Men and women, carefully selected for their unique skills and abilities, compete for one million dollars. Sounds familiar? Nope, this isn’t the reality show “Survivor,” but it comes close and it’s darker. In Real Enough: A Wilderness Survival Novel, Jeffrey W. Tenney puts twenty characters deep into the wilds of British Columbia for a game of survival that ultimately leads to deceit and death. Since the first day of their insertion, something was already amiss, as not all of the participants appear ready for the challenge. As the teams navigate the unsettling reality of the wild, one contestant will be found dead and washed up in the sea. Another will perish from an untreated illness. Tensions rise as nature works against them, and the teams against one another. Even more sinister is their brewing suspicion that the production crew wants them dead for the sake of entertainment. Suspicions and paranoia continue to corrode the teams as they find a way to survive and escape.

This is contemporary dystopia illustrated in the backdrop of the wild outdoors. Real Enough by Jeffrey W. Tenney is dominated by dialogues highlighting the unique and uncertain relationships among characters, showing their willingness to hear each other out, yet at the same time a reluctance to accept ideas under the pressures of stress and anxiety. These dialogues have broad leanings in exploring the human psyche under pressure, and they become critical to the novel’s resolution. It is a story that demands an audience who looks forward to seeing who lives and dies. In this novel, survival is a highly risky business—it leads to horrors that in turn lead to an outcome worth discovering.