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Book Review: 'Vulture’s Wake'

Updated on January 8, 2020
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, an industrial engineer, a mother of two, and a published sci-fi and horror author.


Vulture’s Wake is a young adult science fiction novel set in a world where it seems women have entirely died out. This nearly female-free world created by Kristy Murray is a step above Mad Max in chaos and destruction, but no better than most dystopian young adult books of the twenty teens.

I read, write and review science fiction.
I read, write and review science fiction. | Source

Pros of the Book Vulture’s Wake

Vulture’s Wake by Kristy Murray is one of the few YA post apocalyptic books I’ve read based on a realistic premise of how all the women could die out. This is in contrast to almost all male worlds like the “White Plague” that kills all women outright and society is left scrambling for a cure, fire bombing of cordons to protect the few uninfected areas with women and biochemical manipulation and suspension of belief to rebuild the species.

Nor does this YA dystopian book create a fake utopia like “Ethan of Athos”, where a world without women becomes a world of brotherly love (literally and figuratively). In Vulture’s Wake, a super-flu leaves women alive but seemingly unable to give birth to living girls. Such a world has 30 years to figure out how to reproduce seemingly without women. Their solutions like artificial wombs and genetic manipulation aren’t utterly implausible, like some female only worlds assuming mass cloning and pathogenesis magically save the day (and the species).

The male-only world of Vulture’s Wake realistically demonstrates how society falls apart without women, and the steps men take to try to build families, fall into gangs and struggle to survive in such a dystopia. The commoditization of children in such a world is reasonable. The grim drudgery and flicker of hope in the old hydroponics farmer is a lost opportunity to flesh out the world; instead, he becomes a short chapter detailing the history of the world and a roadblock that slows down the Callum and Bo.

Cons of the Book Vulture’s Wake

While the protagonist “Bo” clearly exists, there’s no explanation of who raised her or how she came to exist. Did her mother die young while she was raised by scientists? Is she a clone or surprise creation in a rogue lab? Unlike the other foundling girl in the story who arrived with her mother or the other girls in Zennana raised to be a future source of ovum to create the next generation of boys, she is without a past. That hurts the story’s characterization. She just knows too much for her age, becoming a plot device as much as her robot dog-thing.

The author’s plot depends too heavily on random encounters to result in necessary sharing of information or rescue.

The ending requires a deus ex machina that is implausible even for her do-everything raptor/dog could do at that point. This mechanical side-kick has more tricks in it than Doctor Who’s K-9, to the point of absurdity.

The ending is juvenile even for young adult books. *** Spoiler alert *** Assuming that the two young teens and literal boatload of girl refugees will find the island destination that the female foundling vaguely remembers is overly optimistic in the least. *** Spoiler ending *** This YA dystopia has a happy ending only if you don’t care that the ending defies all reason.

Too many characters like the father who presume Callum dead or leader of Vulture’s Wake are pure tropes, with no real character depth nor development. And of course Boadicea saves the girls and (in theory) the human race.

Summary of Vulture’s Wake Book Review

The series of big reveals in Vulture’s Wake that give the human species more hope than initially seemed puts the survival of the human race in grave danger, though it is completely in line with the endless deus ex machine the author creates to solve every problem that a random chance encounter doesn’t.

I only give the book two stars instead of one because the person doesn’t turn the single-sex world into either an impossible utopia or irrational dystopia like to many novels in this genre do.

However, the book Epitaph Road by David Patneaude, with a nearly man-free world, is a far better young adult dystopia in both delivery and world-building.


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