Book Reviews

Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin: Blog Tour & Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin

Expected publication May 24th, 2022 by Wednesday Books.

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Protect the girls.

Arlee Gold is anxious about spending the summer at the college prep Camp Rockaway—the same camp her mother attended years ago, which her mother insists will help give Arlee a “fresh start” and will “change her life.” Little does Arlee know that, once she steps foot on the manicured grounds, this will prove to be true in horrifying ways.

Even though the girls in her cabin are awesome—and she’s developing a major crush on the girl who sleeps in the bunk above her—the other campers seem to be wary of Arlee, unwilling to talk to her or be near her, which only ramps up her paranoia. When she’s tapped to join a strange secret society, Arlee thinks this will be her shot at fitting in…until her new “sisters” ask her to do the unthinkable, putting her life, and the life of her new crush, in perilous danger.

Content Warnings: blood, gore, mentions of sexual harassment and assault

Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours and the publisher, Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Arlee Gold is spending the summer before her Junior year at Camp Rockaway – the prestige college prep camp that boasts of being the place rich, influential families send their teenagers in the summer. Arlee herself is a legacy – and a pretty notorious one if the other campers’ reactions to her are anything to go by – her mother attended when she was a teen herself. The same mother who is certain that this is the exact thing Arlee needs to put her past finally behind her and start anew. And, despite the fact Arlee is seriously terrified of bugs, she can’t help but hope so too. Especially after meeting her bunkmate, Winnie.

But then Arlee gets invited to join a secret society of women at the camp that goes back generations. A little vary, Arlee nevertheless agrees, hoping that this is the key to building lasting relationships with her campmates. Too bad the society’s initiation process involves a little bit more than what Arlee thought she was signing up for…

“Protect the girls. Watch out for and defend one another at all costs. No matter the price we must pay.”

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this one! 🙈 Primal Animals is advertised as a sapphic thriller set at an idyllic summer camp where things beneath the surface are not as they appear. And for the most part, that’s exactly what it is! What Rubin does exceptionally well is craft the perfect world for this type of story. Camp Rockaway is just creepy enough to keep you on edge but normal enough to make you wonder if it’s all in your head. There’s also a good cast of characters who all have the potential to be really interesting if given enough time to develop too.

“It’s beautiful here. It’s almost like paradise. But there’s something off, too.”

In fact, I think I had such high expectations for the progression of this plot because of how great the whole concept and setting were. Unfortunately, the plot itself was lacking. It felt a little one-dimensional, the events predictable, and there were too many narrative elements left unexplained or unresolved at the end to be really satisfying. I almost wish this book could have been longer! Because I felt like so many pieces of this story were only brushed upon, and I would have liked to have delved deeper into their meaning! I wish the characters could have been fleshed out more too since I sincerely wanted to understand their motivations for their actions better.

All in all, I think Primal Animals was an enjoyable read still and had a lot of potential to be great! It just fell a little flat in the overall execution for me. 🤷🏻‍♀️

About the Author

Julia Lynn Rubin lives the writer’s life in Brooklyn, where she finished an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults at The New School in 2017. For three years she served as a writing mentor for Girls Write Now, New York City’s premiere writing program for high school girls, and she continues to facilitate pre-K literacy programs throughout Brooklyn at libraries and family shelters.

Julia has been writing books, poems, and stories since first grade, and loves reading about everything from film analysis (she’s a film nerd) to psychology and philosophy. Her short stories have appeared in publications such as the North American ReviewSierra Nevada Review, and The Lascaux Review, and she has written for a variety of online publications, including BuzzFeedThe Content StrategistFatherly, and Wetpaint Entertainment.

Julia is passionate about realism and diversity in teen literature. She hopes to one day own a French bulldog, pug, Boston terrier, or perhaps a mix of all three. She loves indie films, drag shows, and spending as much time as possible at the beach.​

She is represented by Lauren Spieller of Triada US Literary Agency.

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Buy Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound

~ Check out the rest of the tour schedule here! ~

Have you read Primal Animals?

What did you think of it?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.


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