Reviews: Tentacles and Teeth
By: Ariele Sieling
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publisher: Ariele Sieling
Publication Date: March 28, 2019
In the near distant future, the world has fallen into ruin. Humanity has fled from the cities into the wilderness. Communities cluster together as nomadic hunter – gatherer bands to survive attack by the monstrous Gargs that seek to consume human flesh. No one knows where the Gargs came from but Askari is a warrior 2nd class trained to defend her community, the Baratok, from all threats.
However, the Baratok has many rules that she does not understand or agree with. Why do they run and hide when they can learn so much from studying the Gargs? Why put their community through added hardship by not confronting Garg threats that stand in their way? Why do they avoid the cities where they might be able to scavenge more supplies?
Askari has finally broken the Baratok’s rules for the last time. As punishment, she is sent away from the Baratok ton a suicide mission to retrieve a book in the city. If she survives, she will be welcome back into the community with a deeper understanding of why they need to obey the rules to survive. If she dies, she is not as skilled of a warrior that she thinks she is. Will she survive on her own or will she fall prey to a Garg?
Tentacles and Teeth is an action packed young adult science fiction creature feature told in third person from Askari’s point of view. Each chapter focuses on an encounter with a different monstrous creature, collectively called “Gargs”. Each chapter’s episodic nature is a holdover from their original release as a tier of Sieling’s monthly Patreon rewards. The post-apocalyptic world feels oppressive but open. If you fear what lurks in the dark, then open places are the most dangerous places you could be.
Askari is a warrior that has just come of age but we do not see much growth from her this book. If this is a hero’s journey to make her see the error of her ways and grow then, this theme it is undercut. Askari is not surviving on her own devices because she gets unrequested help. Perhaps, this is a point that Askari will reflect on in later books, how while she thought she was a badass warrior, she actually needed help to complete and survive the task. Her education about the world was too sheltered. Her illiteracy, which is common in her community save for a select few, would have gotten her killed. Also withheld was vital information about the reasons why that particular town was dangerous.
Without getting into much deeper spoilers, we get more monster information than anything else including Askari. I was rather excited to read this since I saw the POC on the cover but we do not actually get much description of what anyone really looks like. I did not sympathize with Askari since she is a brat, thinking her way is the best way though she has no grounds for believing so. She was blessed with supportive friends and incredible luck. She takes mostly a passive role in the most crucial part of what should be her development arc.
Survival is the overarching theme of this novel but I had hoped that it would be about Askari figuring it out on her own initiative and ingenuity. I can sympathize with the elders of her tribe because a lone warrior that seeks out danger for her ego is the type of thing that does endanger the community. It makes them short a warrior and weapons in the event of an attack. There is not a consequence for Askari’s actions only rewards. This is a young adult novel so it gives the lesson that it is okay to knowingly abandon and endanger people that are counting on you to feed your ego.
Kudos for Sieling for writing a dystopian young adult science fiction novel without a romance subplot or a love triangle. I assume that she will flesh out the rest of the world and the band in later books but right now, it feels more like a monster encyclopedia than a novel about people.
Tentacles and Teeth makes for a quick read with all of the action but the story lulls where the characters get a chance to relax make it drag since there isn’t enough development of who they are to make them truly interesting. This is essentially the literary equivalent of a Syfy monster movie. We get a light explanation of the world as we run like hell from it but sometimes, that is really all you want to relax at the end of a day.
3 of 5
I originally received a ARC copy of this book from BookSirens to review but I purchased a copy before I completed my review.