In Peadar O’Guilin’s first full length novel, The Inferior, “survival of the fittest” is taken to an entirely new meaning and readers should be prepared for a gripping story about characters who must do whatever it takes to survive.
The story focuses on a young man, Stopmouth, and his tribe of humans who know of no other life than the daily battle to survive. To live, they must hunt rival species, or negotiate live flesh-trade with non-human species to maintain a precarious peace. And for Stopmouth, considered slowwitted because of his stutter, the future looks especially bleak. Their cruel world is not all as it seems however, and on the day he is callously betrayed by his brother, a strange and beautiful woman falls from the sky. This begins a quest that will take Stopmouth into both new areas in his world and to new realizations about what it means to be human.
O’Guilin’s world is harsh and brutal, and the violence may not be appropriate for some readers. At times I felt somewhat squeamish and grossed-out, but the story was engaging and I remained curious throughout about who these people were, how they got to this ruined and barren world, and what the mysterious woman from the sky signified for the tribe. Stopmouth is a great hero and leader precisely because he doesn’t see himself that way, and his perspective and humanity made him a very engaging protagonist. With echoes of Conan, The Lord of The Flies, and The Truman Show, O’Guilin raises pointed questions about the nature of humanity, civilization, morality and justice.
- Posted by Cori