Book Review: The Wayward by Tabitha Caplinger

Last November, I shared a book spotlight for an upcoming release entitled The Wayward by one of my all-time favorite authors, Tabitha Caplinger. In 2021, I read Tab’s The Wolf Queen, a Young Adult Nordic fantasy laced with the foundational truth that light always prevails over darkness (read my full review of The Wolf Queen here). Though The Wayward is a New Adult dystopian, a different genre than The Wolf Queen, I jumped at the chance to read an advanced copy, and I have finally turned the last page.

The verdict, ladies and gentlemen? Tab has done it again. She’s scribed a narrative rooted in truth, centered around raw, real, and relatable characters, that makes the reader feel.

The Wayward shifts from various characters, but Wilder James is the primary protagonist. She lives a simple, secluded life in her mountain home and that’s all she wants. However, a tragic event flips her world upside down and Wilder is faced with a choice. Will she protect only herself and her people? Or will she work to free all of humanity from the Necanians who are heralded as “Bringers of Peace”?

Yes, The Wayward is a dystopian tale set in a world where an alien race comes to earth, promising freedom and peace to the desperate human race. But it’s so much more. I would argue that, above all, it’s really a love story. Not a dozen roses, plush teddy bears, and cheesy movie-esque love story, but an intricate tale of real, unconditional, redeemable, exposed love.

“I would argue that, above all, it’s really a love story. Not a ot a dozen roses, plush teddy bears, and cheesy movie-esque love story, but an intricate tale of real, unconditional, redeemable, exposed love.”

The love between Wilder and Declan is tangible, and the love between the people of the Beartooth community is honorable. But the most powerful love depicted? That’s the love that fosters faith and a drive to find Goodness even in the midst of grief and pain, the love that ensures redemption and offers a soulful, true life of living — the love that can only come from God — is elegantly woven in this beautiful prose which is sure to move any heart.

Who Would Like This Book?

I do agree with the New Adult target audience for The Wayward. In addition to the age of the main characters, the story does contain some violence. The truth about the Necanians and their plans is jarring. Also, infertility plays a role in the novel. I believe this topic will be more appreciated by a New Adult/Adult reader. Note that the plot is more character-driven instead of action-oriented. I think this important to mention because some readers have a plot-type preference.

Final Thoughts

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND The Wayward for New Adult/Adult readers, and I confidently give it 5-stars! Not only is this a story about love and faith, the character-focused plot will help readers heal in ways they didn’t know a work of fiction could facilitate. Fall into the world of The Wayward and between the dichotomy of pain and healing, hope and despair, & light and dark, and find assurance that you are stronger than you know. Our hearts and souls are resilient, and through stubborn faith and perseverance, love will conquer.

Pre-Order Your Copy Before Release Day!

The Wayward releases into the wild on February 7, 2023! Pre-orders are still open. Everyone who preorders through Page 158 books will receive an email with digital goodies. PLUS the first 100 who preorder through Page 158 will also receive some extras! Pictured to the left: a bookmark, recipe card, character art, and a signed bookplate.

Some of my Favorite Quotes from The Wayward

  • “The problem is people die, love doesn’t.”
  • “Fear was the enemy, and they would not kneel to it.”
  • “This wasn’t about being unbroken… [Redacted] would never be the same, but there could be beauty in her healed brokenness.”
  • “’I didn’t…I don’t have the power…’ ‘You had the power to try.'”
  • “He inhaled her lilac scent and exhaled hope.”
  • “Do you trust Him because things feel good or because He is good, even when you don’t feel it?”
  • “You may feel fractured right now; I get that and it’s okay to feel it, but you aren’t finished yet. Far from it.”
  • “‘They took my soul…’ ‘Then you can have part of mine.'”
  • “Hopefully the snow continued to fall until it blanketed the whole of her world and covered her soul, just as serene and fresh as the winter tide.”
  • “Humanity was being given a choice at real freedom—soul-deep freedom—the kind that wasn’t about getting what you wanted, but of serving others.”

Follow Author Tabitha Caplinger!

Published by Kayla E. Green

My name is Kayla E. Green. I am a librarian, young adult author, and poet living in North Carolina. I love reading fantasy, collecting books, drinking cherry coke, and pretending to be a unicorn. Follow my blog for book reviews, author interviews, updates on my personal writing journey, and more bookish fun!

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Wayward by Tabitha Caplinger

  1. Very nicely written review by Kayla Green. I expected nothing less than her best!! Partial Grannie Rosie.

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