Friday, 30 October 2015

Book Review: Vengeance Road; Erin Bowman.

I've been complaining recently that I can never find time to read books for long stretches of time, continually reading just a chapter or two at a time. But for this book? I made time. As soon as I got home this evening, I scoffed dinner so that I could just sit and read for the rest of the evening. Boy am I glad I did, because it's the best read I've had in a while and I can't wait to tell you all my thoughts. Also: I originally got a free copy from Netgalley but I took my eye off the ball and didn't download it before it was archived, so ended up ordering the Hardcover. I'm quite glad that I did now because the cover is also really pretty! Right: enough rambling!

SOURCE: Bought (Originally Netgalley...)
TYPE: Hardcover

TITLE: Vengeance Road
AUTHOR: Erin Bowman
SERIES: --
PUBLISHER: HMH Books For Young Readers
PAGES: 336
GENRE: Young Adult, Western, Historical Fiction, Adventure

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Blurb:
Revenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal.

What I Liked:
  • My instant answer to this title is 'everything!' but of course I'll have to be more specific than that. I'll start with how impressed I was with Bowman's writing: not just because it sucked me in, but also because it was such a masterful handling of the genre. It took all of my favourite elements of the Classic Westerns that I know and love, and somehow managed to make them feel fresh and exciting. I also thought that combining a YA audience with the gritty, brutal reality of the Wild West would be difficult but Bowman balanced everything with ease. Her descriptive work was outstanding and I audibly reacted a lot while reading. This kind of writing is not easy, yet she made it look like it was. Bravo!
  • The world-building impressed me. The research that has gone into this book is clear, and I was very interested to read Bowman's notes at the back of the book on her inspiration for the plot and how much of it was based on a true story. The accents that were not overbearing, the added use of Western slang and Mexican words, and even the knowledge of Apache lore really aided in developing the plot into something spectacular. Everyone knows that I prize world-building above anything else, so let me just be clear, you may all consider me thoroughly dazzled.
  • Not only did the plot shine, but the characters too! Kate was a wonderful heroine who contained ever personality trait I love in main characters. She was feisty, intelligent and could handle herself in a world where men ruled and women faded into the background. She just oozed personality, as did the characters that surrounded her. The Colton brothers were both charming in their own way, but I loved how different they were. Liluye was a wonderful, calming, late addition to the story who managed to bring so much in a short space of time. Equally, Waylan Rose made for a great villain. He actually frightened me and reminded me of some of the great gang leaders I've watched in the past in Clint Eastwood films with my Dad.
What I Disliked:
  • I think the only thing that really struck me as something I didn't really feel was necessary was the big plot twist towards the end, in a showdown with Rose. I won't say what it is as I fear I will spoil the story for those that still haven't read it, but it felt a little too random for my liking and I don't think it was needed. That being said, it wasn't a terrible addition to the story and I think I dislike the fact that the book has ended and it's not the first in a series more. I want to see all those wonderful characters again!
Overall Conclusion:
I think I've pretty much covered everything I wanted to in the 'What I Liked' section. This book filled me with so much adoration and I was mesmerised from start to finish. I used to watch a lot of Westerns with my Dad when I was younger, and despite not being a fan of Action as a whole, loved them! While reading this, I was reminded of those films because it contained so many recognisable elements: shoot-outs, poker, piano playing in the saloons, angry mobs, notorious gangs and most of all the hunt for gold! I would seriously recommend this book to just about anyone. I want to see more YA Western in the world!