The Inferior

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STOPMOUTH AND HIS family know of no other life than the daily battle to survive. To live, they must hunt rival species, or negotiate flesh-trade with those who crave meat of the freshest human kind. It is a savage, desperate existence. And for Stopmouth, considered slowwitted hunt-fodder by his tribe, the future looks especially bleak. But then, on the day he is callously betrayed by his brother, a strange and beautiful woman falls from the sky. It is a moment that will change his destiny, and that of all ...
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Inferior

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Overview

STOPMOUTH AND HIS family know of no other life than the daily battle to survive. To live, they must hunt rival species, or negotiate flesh-trade with those who crave meat of the freshest human kind. It is a savage, desperate existence. And for Stopmouth, considered slowwitted hunt-fodder by his tribe, the future looks especially bleak. But then, on the day he is callously betrayed by his brother, a strange and beautiful woman falls from the sky. It is a moment that will change his destiny, and that of all humanity, forever. With echoes of Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, and The Truman Show, Peadar Ó Guilín’s debut is an action—and idea-packed—blockbuster that will challenge your perceptions of humanity and leave you hungry for more.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
In the world of this book, Humans, Hairbeasts, Armourbacks, Clawfolk, Diggers, Fourleggers, Flyers, Hoppers and whatever other species Guilin has conjured up are in a war of each against all, a war of eat or be eaten. The small Tribe of Humans routinely ask for Volunteers to be sacrificed as food to one of the other species in even exchange for food offerings from the other side; it is considered shameful to refuse or protest—who would seek to preserve his own life at a cost of food for the Tribe? Stopmouth, the stuttering younger brother of the daring and clever Wallbreaker, comes into painful conflict with his once beloved brother when he becomes the victim of his brother's secret cowardice and falls in love with both of his brother's wives, one of whom has fallen to Earth from a Globe in the sky, home of a vanished way of life not sustained by endless slaughter and cannibalism. At 438 pages, the book would have benefited by pruning at least 100 pages full of battles, and more battles, and eagerly devoured eyeballs. The open ending suggests that a sequel is planned with more battles, mutilated corpses, "sticky and delicious blood" and eyeball gouging. But readers with a taste for this sort of thing will also find provocative and disturbing questions about our own carnivorous practices. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
VOYA - Amy Luedtke
Life is a brutal struggle for the young hunter Stopmouth in this intense and thought-provoking adventure. Ruled by the law of "Eat or be Eaten," Stopmouth's Tribe must kill and consume the rival species that inhabit their post-apocalyptic world. When hunting fails, sacrificial "volunteers" are exchanged with other species. Considered weak because of his stutter, Stopmouth faces becoming a volunteer but is protected by his older brother, Wallbreaker. Despite the savagery and danger, Stopmouth finds meaning in living honorably for the Tribe. But Stopmouth's world is shattered when Wallbreaker takes credit for the success of Stopmouth's hunt and uses his new reputation to become Chief. Stopmouth faces more upheaval when one of the mechanical globes that hover in the sky crashes. From the wreckage emerges Indrani, a strange, fierce, and beautiful woman who finds the Tribe's flesh-eating repulsive. Eventually Stopmouth and Indrani form a close bond, and he learns she is hiding a devastating secret that could hold the key to the Tribe's survival. When Stopmouth and Indrani are exiled by Wallbreaker, they embark on a perilous journey to Indrani's world to save both Indrani and the Tribe. Compelling and exciting, this novel draws readers into Stopmouth's world and makes them consider how far they would go for survival. The numerous action scenes do get tiresome and the lack of resolution is frustrating, but the tale is perfect for readers who crave a adventure with a dash of philosophy. Reviewer: Amy Luedtke
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up

In this epic story of survival, betrayal, and community, the fittest humans are prized as hunters and for taking care of the Tribe, while those with a number of marks on their Tally sticks, or otherwise deemed useless, are traded for food with other tribes in the region. Stopmouth, a "savage" human with a stutter, is healed by a strange visitor from the Roof following a hunting accident. He and Indrani develop a bond that is scorned by the rest of the Tribe, but is one that will see them through some challenging times as they set out on a journey to try to return Indrani to whence she came. This well-paced fantasy/science fiction blend perfectly introduces community conflict at a base level. Stopmouth and his brother are constantly at odds over their roles in the family and their individual ambition. Power and influence are accepted and controlled in very different ways by these main characters and, from the very first chapters, readers can see that lies and deceit are strong forces on the characters. There are numerous situations that could be used to supplement classroom discussion on moral and ethical behavior. Easy to follow and intriguing at every turn, The Inferior will hold readers from page to page, chapter to chapter, to the very end.-Dylan Thomarie, Johnstown High School, NY

Kirkus Reviews
Though most of the blood and horror in this turgid dystopian romance stays between the lines, there's still enough seeping out to disturb all but the most hardened readers. Into the young hunter Stopmouth's world, in which humans and intelligent beasts survive by butchering and eating one another indiscriminately, falls Indrani-a beautiful stranger from the vegetarian, high-tech civilization living in the glowing Roof overhead. Stopmouth is an archetypal Innocent Hero who, thanks to Indrani's efforts to hide the truth, takes hundreds of pages to learn that he and all the groundlings are modified animals deliberately set against each other for the entertainment of the Roof people-a gory, world-sized version of Survivor. The action scenes are compelling, but so stingy is the author with background information or physical descriptions that the premise and setting (a huge cave? a space colony? a "generation" ship?) are likely to be totally enigmatic to young readers. In the end the lovers are parted, and wasplike Diggers who plant their teeming young in living victims arrive on the scene-sure signs of an equally icky sequel. No rush. (Science fiction. 13 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385751452
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 6/10/2008
  • Pages: 448
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.46 (w) x 6.62 (h) x 1.52 (d)

Meet the Author

EADAR Ó GUILÍN has been writing curious stories for as long as he can remember. One of his school reports claimed that he had "a talent for communication, which he abuse[d]." Since then, he has written plays, published short stories, and performed as a standup comedian. This is his first book for children.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

BROTHERS

The rule was to keep running – Don’t stop, don’t die. The Tribe needed its strongest to survive. So Stopmouth fled for his life through the streets of Hairbeast territory, while its non-human inhabitants looked on with indifference. Already the cries of his brother were fading behind him.

‘Please, Stopmouth!’

The Armourbacks preferred living prey. When they caught Wallbreaker, they’d drive him home with spears to feed their young. The screams of such captives lasted for days, echoing down streets and over rooftops.

Stopmouth tried not to think about it. ‘K-keep running,’ he told himself. He leaped barrels of flesh and sprinted into an alley narrow enough to give the pursuers some trouble if they were still on his tail.

Stopmouth realized he couldn’t hear his brother any more. He skidded to a halt. The hot air of mid-afternoon stank of blood and rang with the booming howls of fighting or mating Hairbeasts. He could feel his heart battering against his ribs and he leaned his tall frame for support against a crumbling wall. Don’t stop. Don’t think. Keep running. He wiped his stinging eyes and whispered the name, ‘Wallbreaker.’ Humanity might survive without his brother, but Stopmouth knew he could not. Wallbreaker had always been the darling of the Tribe. He’d been a sweet child, grown up to be a great hunter, and people would forgive him anything, even a half-idiot brother. And they had forgiven always, smiling indulgently through the younger boy’s stammers in order to please his handsome sibling.

And yet, if Wallbreaker failed to make it back, Mossheart would have to marry somebody else and that would mean . . . Stopmouth pushed the thought away with a shiver of self-disgust. He forced himself to turn round. He tried to spot his brother, but crowds of burly Hairbeasts blocked his way. The creatures filled the market place with the sharp stink of their fur. They bartered for flesh in high gabbling voices and sometimes the larger males would push against each other, chest to chest, until one gave way.

He shoved sweaty brown hair out of his eyes and marched back the way he’d come. The councillors would be angry if they knew what he was doing. ‘Suicide!’ they’d cry. ‘Waste!’ He didn’t even have a spear to defend himself, having abandoned it in his flight.

He reached the last place he’d heard his brother’s voice: an alley flanked by tall buildings where light from the great Roof struggled to penetrate. He found some traces of blood here, but they were old. Stopmouth tiptoed to the far end, his muscles trembling with exhaustion, his body and loincloth dripping with sweat. Here at last he heard the tones of human speech: a whimpering, pleading voice so unlike that of the great hunter Wallbreaker was becoming.

This can’t be my brother, Stopmouth thought.

The alley opened onto a small square, where incomprehensible murals covered the walls with swirls of dried blood. A few Hairbeasts watched curiously as Wallbreaker, his fair hair streaked with filth, retreated before the spears of the Armourbacks. He made no effort to take one of his attackers into death with him. Instead, tears flowed freely down his handsome face, shaming him and his family.

Even as his heart swelled with pity, Stopmouth began having second thoughts about a rescue. How could two humans hope to defeat five Armourbacks? The adults reached chest height on a man, but they were broader, and a rock-hard shell made them tough to kill.

Stopmouth gritted his teeth. He wasn’t ready to die, but he refused to let these beasts keep his brother. And he still had time – they preferred live prisoners to quick kills.

He swallowed his fear and jogged back to the mouth of the alley. Then he took a quiet lane running parallel to the one the Armourbacks would probably follow to their territory. He’d need to find a place where he could come out ahead of them. And a plan – he’d need one of those too. He’d have to think one up as he ran.

He passed open doorways where lonely Hairbeast females boomed with song. He leaped old drains and clattered over wider stretches of water on metal bridges. All around him the ancient buildings of the city echoed his footfalls or muffled them in carpets of ragged moss.

Far enough, he thought.

A shaky tower stood nearby with a grey-furred Hairbeast snoozing in its doorway. The creatures were larger than humans and he clipped this one slightly as he jumped over it. He pounded up the stairs, ignoring its bellows. He had no idea what it was saying. All he knew was that the creature was unlikely to break treaty to hunt him.

Three floors later he reached the roof. The surface creaked underfoot and cracks snaked all over it. The whole building looked ready to collapse. Maybe that was a good thing – he might be able to turn the bricks and loose lumps of concrete to his advantage.

Stopmouth walked over the rattling roof to the waist-high wall that bordered it and looked down. Almost immediately he saw his brother’s blond head. The Armourbacks pushed him in front of them with jabs of their spears. Humans would have surrounded their prey, but Armourbacks preferred to drive theirs. Perhaps they feared to leave a desperate enemy within striking distance of their backs.

As the pack moved up the street towards his position, Stopmouth carefully pried rocks away from the wall of the tower. He heaved and strained until a few of the larger ones were balanced on the edge. He wiped sweat from his eyes and tried to ignore the thumping of his heart, which had started up again at the sight of the enemy.

‘Come on! Come on!’ he whispered. He rarely stuttered when talking to himself.

Wallbreaker passed beneath him. Stopmouth held his breath, waiting for the first Armourback. The moments stretched, measured in beads of sweat and a frantic hammering in his ribcage.

Suddenly a flash of light blazed in the sky above him. Heartbeats later a boom followed that shook Stopmouth’s tower and rattled the roof beneath his feet.

The Armourbacks lowered their spears and stared up in what might have been astonishment. But they weren’t watching Stopmouth – their eyes, and even the eyes of their prisoner, were fixed on the great Roof above. Stopmouth didn’t dare follow their gaze. Whatever was happening up there, he wouldn’t let it cost him his brother.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    DeathSHARD

    Jumps at icestar and slashes at his eyes (im calling aecp)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    Deathclaw

    Pads out. "See you in camp."

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    Virus

    Virus's back arched. "I swear on your death bed that Toxin will kill you." He snarled, stalking out.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    Silverfang

    Helps life back to camp

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2012

    Fasinatingly diffrent!

    There is so much of the same thing out there vampires and zombies and such. They are all so annoyingly shallow but when you try to read something with some semblance of meaning (besides the perils of a love triangle) its so complex it gets boring. Not so with the inferior it was action packed and dazzling. A world that not even I the imaginative one had ever thought to consider a world with cannabels(sorry if misspelled) Stopmouth isnt the perfect hero he doubts himself but there is a simple honesty to his character that makes you love him. Im rambling now and I dont want to give away the story. If you are looking for something fabulously diffrent and wonderfully written besides look no farther.

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  • Posted August 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Karin Librarian for TeensReadToo.com

    Stopmouth isn't the most respected hunter in the village, but he is the fastest. His speed makes him a valuable member of any hunting team because every team must come back with flesh. Lives depend on it. The consequences of a failed hunt don't just mean the possibility of starvation.

    In Stopmouth's world, if there isn't enough flesh, members of the Tribe must volunteer to sustain their neighbors. If there aren't enough volunteers, the Tribe leaders choose people for this "honor." Stopmouth lives in a brutal world.

    Life becomes very complicated for Stopmouth when a beautiful woman named Indrani comes into his life. She was piloting one of the Globes that fly through the sky when she was attacked by a fellow pilot and forced to crash in the village. Indrani speaks a different language and is feared by most people in the Tribe. Only Stopmouth gets to know her and attempts to communicate with her.

    After a great betrayal, Stopmouth is forced to run away and leave the home he's always known, forfeiting his membership in the Tribe. He takes Indrani with him and together they face many dangers on their journey to safety.

    Stopmouth learns a lot about his world and finds out things aren't what they seem at all. He is forced to make difficult decisions that affect him, Indrani, and his entire world.

    THE INFERIOR is a fascinating story. Stopmouth is a wonderful character and it is great to see him grow throughout the story. He goes from an insecure young boy to a respected and skilled leader.

    There could easily be a sequel to THE INFERIOR, but at the date of this post, there hasn't been any definitive word of one being planned.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 28, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Pretty Good.

    This book had romance, was action-PACKED, and almost a mystery because you had so many questions about how things happened, why, how certain things the characters accept as true ever came to be...
    It takes a little bit of time to get used to the character's point of view, it doesn't take place in our modern-day world, or any past time period. It might be future, but that's all part of the mystery. You (and the main characters) have no idea.

    It's a really good read if you don't mind a bit of gore and a casual attitude towards death to feed yourself (that's what this whole book revolves around).

    But good luck looking for the sequel, I can't find mention of it ANYWHERE.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2008

    A reviewer

    Survival of the fittest is understood by Stopmouth and his tribe either kill or be someone else¿s meal although his people expect him to be fodder because his stupidity makes them believe Stopmouth is inferior to them. Expediting his demise is his brother who betrays Stopmouth.------------ In this dangerous environs of the law of eat or be eaten, Indrani falls from the sky landing in the midst of Stopmouth¿s tribe. They debate what to do with the intruder as some want to trade her to those who relish fresh human meat. Stopmouth is attracted to her and wants to keep the beautiful intelligent woman who fell from the glowing Roof as his even though that violates the one commandment of eat or be eaten. Meanwhile she hides from her protector the truth of what she knows about the origins of her benefactor and his tribe and their prime reason for existence.----------- Avoiding a spoiler makes the review difficult to write as the key to the story line and the relationship between the lead pair is the knowledge that Indrani possesses although that takes quite a while before the obviously not so stupid Stopmouth figures it out. The action is fast-paced but not enough of it especially for the intended young teen audience as much of the plot is used to describe in too much detail the surface world. Still this homage to Tarzan in the Twilight Zone will engage the reader who will be appalled to learn the truth behind the connection between the Roof top intellects and the INFERIOR surface dwellers.----------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2008

    Avid reader

    Very different fantasy story for kids and adults. Fast-paced, fresh story that has wide appeal. I read this one last fall in Ireland and bought copies for Xmas gifts back in the USA. Can't wait for the second one to come out!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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