Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Fierce KingdomFierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I thought was a pure thriller was only partially so. Most of the book is spent on exploring the relationship between the main character, Joan, and her little boy, Lincoln (my son’s name, too). The two of them, along with other zoo visitors, become trapped inside the zoo after closing hours when some gunmen bent on a Columbine-type mass killing begin their shooting rampage. Joan’s resourcefulness and fierce love for her son drive the plot. Her thought process is detailed minute by minute as she tries to stay alive and she contemplates what a mother should do, must do, in such circumstances. Hide or run? Feed Lincoln (which means moving in the open and making noise) or not (which means him crying and complaining while the gunmen are near)? She second guesses herself often and other characters she interacts with have their own ideas. What is her responsibility toward them?

These are interesting philosophical questions but heavily fact-dependent, so I’m not sure how useful it would be to the reader to consider them, since no one is ever likely to encounter these exact facts. I thought the author could have spent less time on Joan’s thought processes and added a little more action, a little more decision-making. Exploring a mother’s love may be heartwarming for some but I found myself thinking “Get on with it” too often. The author writes well and I was fortunate to have the audiobook, because the reader Cassandra Campbell, did an excellent job. There is some carnage, but it’s not excessive, and book is free of sex and cursing for those who prefer that.

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