Review: ‘Unflappable’ by Suzie Gilbert

Twenty-five-year-old Luna Burke is on the run.

Licensed to care for injured and orphaned wildlife, she is determined to smuggle a homicidal Bald Eagle out of her husband’s private zoo in Florida, reunite the bird with its mate, and get them both to an eagle sanctuary in Canada. Hot on her trail is her furious husband, his bodyguards, the police, conservation officials, and an expert government tracker; aiding and abetting her is a smitten young tech guy, a lethal Navy SEAL turned panther advocate, and an underground railroad of wildlife rescuers intent on protecting one of their own. Waiting in Ontario is a legendary old eco-warrior more than willing to provide refuge…as long as Luna can make it across the border.

UNFLAPPABLE is a funny, dark, sexy adventure with a big cast of unconventional characters, both human and not.

From Goodreads.

DETAILS

Publisher: Perch Press

ASIN: B0852981Z6

Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Perch Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Unflappable is a wild ride – literally. In this road-trip-meets-nature-conservation tale, Luna Burke is on a mission to reunite a kidnapped Bald Eagle with its mate and smuggle them both into Canada before her psychotic billionaire husband and his various armed forces can catch her. It’s the adventure you didn’t know you needed, complete with an underground railroad of wildlife rescuers, one homicidal bird, a panther advocate armed to his teeth, a smitten young volunteer, and a badass heroine determined to escape her own entrapment in an unfulfilling marriage.

If nothing else, it’s unique. By far the most compelling aspect of Suzie Gilbert’s second novel is its bizarre cast of characters, each more endearing than the last. Gilbert showcases humanity at its battiest, its strangest, its nastiest, but also at its best: she peels away layers of personal strife and trauma to reveal an inherent core of compassion that entangles us with the natural world. A number of intertwined love stories guide the plot, including the tragic separation of Mars (the eagle) and his mate, the blooming infatuation between Luna and Ned, and the commitment of conservationists to a world that has lost its trust in a violent and selfish human race.

Unfortunately the suspense and intrigue at the heart of Unflappable are disrupted by some issues in pacing. Juggling such a large cast of characters comes with the added challenge of writing ultra-smooth transitions from one point of view to the next, and Gilbert might have fared better by limiting the narrative to two or three key perspectives. The storyline felt disjointed and jumpy for a large chunk of the novel, giving the reader mild whiplash rather than an adrenaline-fuelled race to the novel’s climax.

Despite some other minor nitpicks, I absolutely loved all of Unflappable‘s eccentricities. The novel has a strong gravitational pull towards conservational ethics, but its lessons are integrated effortlessly into the storyline (providing “incidental learning at its best,” to use Debbie Lefebre’s words). Hope and hilarity resonate throughout this marvellous, crazy story of love and escape.

Rating: 3.5/5

Recommended to: Anyone needing some pure escapist fiction – especially those of you who are missing the outside world.

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