Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Review: Stone Rider


Stone RiderAuthor: David Hofmeyr
Series: Stone Rider, #1
Released: July 14th 2015
Publisher: Delacorte
Length: 336 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

In the vein of The Outsiders and the early Western novels of Elmore Leonard, this inventive debut novel, a cross between the cult classic Mad Max movie series and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, blends adrenaline-fueled action with an improbable yet tender romance to offer a rich and vivid portrayal of misfits and loners forced together in their struggle for a better life.
Adam Stone wants freedom and peace. He wants a chance to escape Blackwater, the dust-bowl desert town he grew up in. Most of all, he wants the beautiful Sadie Blood. Alongside Sadie and the dangerous outsider Kane, Adam will ride the Blackwater Trail in a brutal race that will test them all, body and soul. Only the strongest will survive.
The prize? A one-way ticket to Sky-Base and unimaginable luxury.
And for a chance at this new life, Adam will risk everything. 

I find the distinction between boy books and girl books to be discriminatory and a tiny bit offensive, and yet Stone Rider undeniably aims towards young adult boys as its intended audience. Heavy on the action, violence and technical description and very light on any kind of emotional development, it often reads as a videogame on paper. But by no means is it a bad thing – whatever it tries to do, this book does exceptionally well, and the end result is an unusually written story that has a lot to offer to its readers.

Stone Rider paints for us a horrible picture of Earth – a barren, bleak environment with very little mercy for its inhabitants. The smallest possibility of survival comes from two sources – mining or byke racing, and our hero Adam chooses the latter. The races themselves are extremely dangerous with very low survival rates, but the battles begin even earlier. The rivalries are often deadly and the bykes themselves are no joke, but for most people in Blackwater, they’re the only hope for a better life.

Hofmeyr’s writing stands out with its sharpness and simplicity. The short, clipped sentences truly emphasize the sense of imminent danger and the pacing seems even faster thanks to the author’s style. The no-nonsense tone takes some getting used to, but it suits the story perfectly.

The fortunately secondary romance leaves a lot to be desired. Mostly it’s a young boy’s admiration for a cool, untouchable girl, a dystopian version of manic pixie dream girl with a pixie haircut and heaps of attitude. There is some development between them, but always at the worst possible moment, and the relationship was more of a burden to this story than anything else.

Oddly, my favorite part were the bykes (although I truly resent the spelling) and their connection to the riders. The technical parts were very well done and it was obvious to me that a lot of thought was put into them. While the romance and the worldbuilding left some room for improvement in possible future installments, the bykes and the races are pretty much perfect as they are. I have high hopes for the second book. A more solid worldbuilding and stronger character development will make a world of difference for this series.


A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


17 comments:

  1. I don't think this would quite be the read for me since I do like the feels but, having said that, it sounds like this was done very well all things considered.

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  2. I've been staying away from dystopian nightmares lately simply because I always find one or two thing about it to complain about. It seems like the novel could've done without the romance in this one. :/

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  3. It sounds like something different there and I confess that it's quite intriguing. It's been a while since I haven't read a good dystopia book

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  4. I think I'll wait for you to read the sequel before deciding whether I want to read this one or not... action action and more action without proper character development and world building tends to bother me a bit in books, not as much in movies!

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  5. As much as like action-packed books, I'm not sure this one is for me. The romance and the world building sounds like it needed some more work to it. I'll keep an eye on your review for the sequel for sure though! :)
    Great review, Maja!

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  6. The spelling already annoys me

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  7. A cross between Mad Max and The Road? Um what? LOL! If a plot is exciting enough, I can handle the lack of character development and connection. This one sounds like it comes close.

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  8. Hm. While I of course love action in my books Maja, I'm an emotional reader through and through, so I think this one will fall short in that area for me. Especially love romance. I love romance. Light and fluffy romance or gut-wrenching romance; as long as it's given depth I'm a happy girl. It sounds like this story would have been better off just leaving a romance out altogether:) Fantastic review as always!

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  9. No love for the characters, no point. In my humble opinion. Too bad about the concept, because it sounds rather brilliant. Another one of your amazing reviews. Hugs <3

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  10. I resent that spelling as well. You are right, there are not many books written for or aimed at boys, so this is one I would check out for that reason.

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  11. I'm with you, that spelling of bykes is not so great. I'm not sure this is a book that would work for me. I have a hard time with books like this. I'm glad you were able to find quite a lot of good in it though!

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  12. I do love my dystopia but I am not sure if this will be for me, plus the spelling of "byke", mmm will have to think about this one, great review though!

    Heather @ Random Redheaded Ramblings

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  13. I know what you mean about the gender separation, but at least it wasn't glaring (or it didn't seem to be in your review). I also would hate byke but hope that it would start to become less bothersome as I read on. Sometimes it doesn't happen that way, sometimes it does. Brilly review!

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  14. I'm definitely with you on the 'boy' vs. 'girl' books. There has been a lot of discussion of that in the library world. I have to conscientiously think of it when I do booktalks. I also hate the spelling and will keep an eye out to see if this series improves in both the character and world building aspects.

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  15. Ha - I had an 'ew moment' as soon as I saw the bykes selling. :D That's kind of funny, my son came to mind while reading the blurb. It definitely gives off a 'boys vibe', which isn't really a bad thing. It was often hard to find books for my son when he was a younger teen, because he did not like romance and such in his books. I even had to do a lot of convincing for him to read Hunger Games because he liked reading from a guys perspective. I would've for sure got him this book.

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  16. I have to say the spelling of bykes sort of bothers me as well. My eyes stumble at the word every time I see it. But that's a small thing. The story sounds exciting but as a romance lover it's disappointing to hear it was a drag on the story. Hope the next book turns out better in that respect. Wonderful review, Maja! :)

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  17. I was reading your review and going to ask you if there was a reason for the annoying spelling of bikes (see, I can't even write it, it annoys me so) but I guess not so I'll move on from there! I have this one on my shelf and haven't picked it up because I'm kind of on a bleak dystopian world break...but it's still on the TBR!

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