REVIEW: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
I’ve never been the type of girl to love westerns. Yeah, I watched the occasional movie or played a video game or daydreamed about cowboys, but this book made me fall in love with the Wild West.
Vengeance Road is an adventurous tale filled with gun-slinging outlaws, bloody wounds, rowdy saloons, untold secrets, action-packed shootouts, and the stench of grit and death. It was most excellent!
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.
In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.
Heroine: Kate Thompson is a bold, sassy character who earned my respect and love in the very first chapter. When she found her father murdered, instead of breaking down emotionally, she grabbed her rifle and started shooting! YES!
After that, I was hooked! I love bad a*s heroines who can take care of themselves and go toe-to-toe with men. Kate is tough, fearless and doesn’t back down when she’s told no, threatened or when the odds aren’t in her favor. She goes after what she wants, and does it with flair. Even though she keeps herself guarded and has a tough shell throughout most of the story, we do get to see her vulnerable side at times, which made me love her more!
Hero/Love Interest: Jesse is um…how do I put this nicely— a jerk. Plain and simple. I liked him at first, but he kept doing things that bothered me, and he wasn’t consistent—moody. Nice. Then mean. Then nice again. Once I learned more about him and his backstory, he became a more likable character. Not book boyfriend material, but likable.
Dialect: The whole book is written in that ol’ Wild West accent of “yers” and “reckons” It added a certain authenticity to the story. The author deserves major points for writing a whole book in western dialect. That takes determination and hard work. Sometimes, but not often, it was difficult to understand some sentences because of the dialect. I was like:
Cover: It’s absolutely gorgeous! Colorful, artistic and goes along with the genre. It also foreshadows certain elements of the story.
Action: I never found myself bored while reading Vengeance Road. It kept me on my toes and I couldn’t put it down. There are tons of action-packed scenes filled with shoot outs, bloody corpses, hangings, and shankings *prison term for knife stabbing* The chemistry and bidding romance between Kate and Jesse causes some major drama too.
Humor: Even with all the seriousness and drama going on in the story, there are some funny moments between the characters. Kate is always arguing with Jesse and his brother Will. Will does make fun of her a lot, and loves to mess with her. One of my favorite funny scenes:
“Those are landmarks from Pa’s journal,” I says, surprised. “You been poking yer nose in things, Lil?”
“Only once. I asked to look, but you did not answer. I figured you’d have said no if it were important.
“Asked? You never asked.”
“Yesterday morning, while you slept.”
“Damn it, Lil. Course I didn’t answer if I were sleeping. You don’t do that. You don’t just take things that ain’t yers.”
Ending: I’m usually very good at predicting how books are going to end, but the major twist blindsided me. I did NOT see it coming at all. I wished that it would have been foreshadowed better, but it was satisfying nonetheless.
Stereotypes: I felt that some of the characters acted stereotypical at times or had stereotypical roles. For example, Jesse, the love interest, was the gorgeous cowboy with the tough or secret past. Been there, done that.
Liluye: She’s a Native American girl that joins Kate on her journey and helps her navigate the area. I liked Liluye very much, but I felt that she wasn’t fully developed. I think so much more could have been done with her character, but it fell flat.
Crying Scale: 5/10 There’s one tear-jerker moment toward the middle that will only make you cry if you’ve really connected with the characters. You might also shed a tear at the scenes where Kate breaks down and faces the realization that her father really is gone.
Final Thoughts: Vengeance Road is a gritty, action-packed read that will take you on a journey filled with many twists, turns and bumps. This was my first YA Western and I highly enjoyed it. I would recommend this to anyone who loves Westerns, revenge stories or if you like historical fiction!