Thursday, October 15, 2015

Vengeance Road

I've been waiting to read this since forever! Okay, since I saw the cover a while ago. (I have a serious cover crush on this book). It's been a long time since I've cracked open a good old fashioned western. And it's been even longer since I've cracked open one in the Young Adult area. It is because of this that I feel it necessary to begin this post with - CAN WESTERNS BE THE NEW THING? YEA LET'S DO IT. Really. Please. WESTERNS. YES?!???!!!!
Ok. So that's out of my system. I shall commence with the post...

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Published: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 336 Pages (Hardback, E-book)
Genre: Western, Young Adult
Find the Author: Website (social media links under 'contact'!)

"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."- Snatched from the Goodreads blurb! :)

Erin Bowman has mastered the voice of a western hero in the form of a teenage girl with a gun and a thirst for vengeance. Literally. Some use first person as a vehicle to write in their own voice. She uses it as a vehicle to express Kate. It reminded me of the clear voice Suzanne Collin's give Katniss in the Hunger Games. She has the dialect and persona down.  Yet, Bowman doesn't use it as a distraction to hide behind - she uses it as a tool. I get authenticity, I get delivery. I don't get lazy. 

The idea of a western hero on a quest for vengeance has the potential for being a little trite. But not in this western. There are PLENTY of classic westerns parts to it - the saloon set-up scene, shoot outs, the Native American guide, the pesky but necessary companions. Between Kate's authentic voice and the twist at the end - it deviates from any possible triteness.

The twist at the end (not giving it away) and the way that Kate handles herself is one of my favorite things. This is a naturally feminist, girl-empowering piece of work in a space that has often suppressed female characters into stereotypes or damsels (or both). I admire how the romantic story line doesn't dominate but enhance the plot. I love how she closes the book. It has a happy ending but it wasn't immediately clear and so it came as a good surprise. After a novel-worth of worrying that she was being consumed with grief and rage it was nice to see her at peace with herself and her life. It was nice to see her go back to the life her father built standing on the two feet that she always stood. Kate a heroine with vulnerabilities that can (and does) hold her own. It's a great anthem for the resilience and versatility of women.

Four out of five rating. Tie everything up in this post together and you get a strong recommendation from me. Reading Vengeance Road was like breathing fresh air - air that you forgot could exist. It was different and out of my box yet COMPLETELY in my box. Strong female character, historical context, solid writing. I loved it. I hope you love it too.



1 comment

  1. Brilliant review :) it's great that you read something out of your comfort zone, but found elements you're familiar with and really enjoyed it! YAY! It sounds like an interesting story. Oh, and I totally agree, the cover is really striking!


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