|AUTHOR: Rae Carson |
SERIES: The Gold Seer Trilogy, book 1
PUBLICATION DATE: September 22, 2015
SOURCE: Edelweiss e-ARC
GENRE: Western, historical fiction
SETTING: multiple US states, 1849 "Gold Rush"
GIVE IT TO: upper-MS, HS
REVIEW: I have been on a Western kick lately. It's something different and refreshing as there aren't too many YA books (right now) that could qualify as Westerns. I never really watched Westerns as a kid (other than a random Bonanza episode here and there), but ever since I read Moira Young's Blood Red Road, I've been kind of hooked. The problem is, there aren't many for young adult readers.
So this book came along, and I was completely blown away. I read all 432 pages in one sitting. It has something for every reader--wilderness survival, murder, disease, bad guys with guns, a little romance. Rae Carson is a master at creating complex characters that change and grow and feel like real people. This is at its heart a survival novel, the story of a girl just trying to find the safety and comfort of her best friend. Leah is like a superhero, and Jefferson is a perfect complement for her tough, stubborn personality. I also really love the character of Becky Joyner, a woman who appears throughout the book and ends up on Leah's wagon train to California.
Romance is a slow-build. It's clear that Jefferson and Leah love each other. They've been best friends most of their lives. It's also clear that they both feel romantic love, but it really does take forever to get there. Even by the end, there is very little romance, which is realistic considering their rough circumstances.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: On order. I can booktalk this one all day long. It's not for everyone (some will pooh-pooh as soon as I say it's a Western), but I still think it will be popular in my library.
READALIKES: For another unique gender-bending Western, look for Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman, also one of my faves of 2015. Also, Blood Red Road (Young) and The Knife of Never-Letting Go (Ness)
- Overall: 5/5
- Creativity: 5/5
- Characters: 5/5--should be a 6/5
- Engrossing: 5/5--read it in one sitting!
- Writing: 5/5
- Appeal to teens: 4/5
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
- Language: very mild; one hell, 2 damns
- Sexuality: mild; childbirth, Leah starts menstruating along the way, some creepy men in wagon train look at the girls and make inappropriate comments, brief mention of girls being sold to men
- Violence: high; gun violence/murder, slaughtering of animals (for food, mercy, sport), lots of death and disease, medical gore, abusive father
- Drugs/Alcohol: very mild; medical use of laudanum, one character described as a drunk
- Other: lots of guns (it is a Western!)