Author: David Hofmeyr
Series: Stone Rider, #1
Released: July 14th 2015
Length: 336 pages
Source: Publisher for review
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.