|AUTHOR: Erin Bowman
PUBLISHER: HMH Books for Young Readers
PUBLICATION DATE: Sept. 1, 2015
SETTING: Arizona Territory, 1800s
GIVE IT TO: upper-MS, HS, adult
SUMMARY: After her father is murdered, 18-year old Kate cuts off her hair and pretends to be a boy in an effort to hunt down the Rose Riders, the outlaw gang that killed him to obtain information about a hidden gold mine.
REVIEW: Tired of YA dystopia and bad boy romances? Give this one a try! I’ve never thought of myself as a fan of Westerns, either in TV, books, or movies, but I think I may be getting there. Vengeance Road is just refreshingly different. I loved the Arizona setting, the conflicts with the Apache, the horses, the open desert sky, the saloons, the hunt for gold…I don’t know if I would have wanted to live back then, but I sure did enjoy reading about it.
I really liked Kate’s stubborn, tomboy personality, which matches Jesse’s stubborn, cowboy ruggedness perfectly. The romance was slow-building (he did think she was a boy for awhile!), and I loved seeing how Kate and Jesse tried so hard to not fall for one another. Too cute.
Some readers will struggle with the slang “Western” language used in spoken and inner dialogue. Since Kate tells the story from first person perspective, the entire book is written in slang (example: “goin” instead of “going” and “I’s” instead of “I was”). As with Blood Red Road, readers will get used to it eventually. Some, however, will take longer than others.
There were some slow parts, and there is a twist toward the end involving Kate’s family history that seemed kind of random and sudden. None of that was a big deal though–I still really enjoyed the book overall.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Unique, wild western fun. Don’t miss it!
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: On order.
READALIKES: Blood Red Road (Young)
- Overall: 4/5
- Creativity: 5/5
- Characters: 5/5
- Writing: 4/5
- Appeal to teens: 4/5–some will struggle with the Western slang
- Pacing: 4/5–some slow parts
- Language: mild-medium; damn, GD, hell, one “horseshit”
- Sexuality: medium; some kissing; one kiss gets heated (girl ends up in boy’s bedroll but no sex); references to prostitution and buying someone a “poke”
- Violence: high; several murders, hangings, knife wounds
- Drugs/Alcohol: mild-medium; multiple references to chewing tobacco, cigarettes, and pipes; talk of drunkenness