Review: Survival Instincts by Jen Waite


Release date: July 14, 2020

Publisher: Dutton

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


FOURTEEN YEARS BEFORE THE CABIN: Twenty-something Anne meets the man of her dreams right out of college, but after they get married, Anne notices that her husband begins acting differently. Why is Ethan suddenly so moody? And will their marriage endure?

A WEEK BEFORE THE CABIN: Ten years later, Anne and her twelve-year-old daughter, Thea, are safely living in Vermont. Anne is a successful therapist, Thea has friends at her new school, and they receive an endless stream of love, support, and baked goods from Anne’s sweet mom, Rose. When Thea takes to brooding and showing classic signs of teen angst, a trip for the three women to the White Mountains of New Hampshire seems like the perfect chance to bond.

THE CABIN: A man follows the three women on a hike at a nature reserve and drags them at gunpoint to an abandoned cabin in the woods. And just like that their peaceful weekend away turns into a fight for survival. It isn’t clear what this man wants from these women or how he is connected to them if at all, but it is increasingly clear that they won’t all get out of the cabin alive.

SURVIVAL INSTINCTS is a captivating and terrifying novel that brings to life one of the scariest truths of all–that people’s inner monsters come in various forms, some more recognizable than others, and that we are all one random encounter away from tragedy.


Before I get into my own thoughts about this one I want to address the problematic issues that I didn’t even realize were in the book until after I read my friend Toya’s review Be sure to check her post out, it was eye opening for me for sure. I also want to say that the team at Dutton and the author herself listened to Toya’s concerns and immediately began working on implementing changes. While it was too late to edit the hardcover book, the ebook and audio version will have edits and I have to applaud all parties involved in making said edits. You can also check out this post from the author as well.

I love an emotionally charged thriller and is there anything more fraught with emotion than a mother/daughter relationship? Throw in a scenario where a mom, daughter and grandma are fighting for their lives and you have one hell of a tense situation. This flips between multiple viewpoints and the one from the Man who kidnaps the family were chilling and super fascinating. He clearly had an agenda and a reason for taking them but I couldn’t figure out what that reason was before it was revealed, always a great sign in a thriller for me. This was a really solid read for me, if you like character driven thrillers check this one out!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

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