Author: Erin Bowman
Released: September 1st 2015
Publisher: HMH BfYR
Length: 336 pages
Source: Publisher for review
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.
Vengeance Road, Erin Bowman's unique foray into young adult western genre can only be described as a success. As the author’s note clearly explains, the highly anticipated project was something Bowman had brewing for years and that much forethought was evident from every page. Vengeance Road is dark, violent, gritty and honest, all the things I’ve come to appreciate in YA fiction above all else.
After the violent death of her father, Kate is a girl set on revenge, going against a much stronger enemy with very little chance of survival. She isn’t afraid to kill or be killed and there’s little else on her mind as she chases a group of dreaded outlaws across the country. Along the way, she meets up with the family of her father’s old friend and she learns the extent of her parents’ deception. Brothers Jesse and Will join her on her journey and complicate her life further with their dreams of gold. Still, Kate is determined to rid the world of her father’s killers no matter the cost.
Bowman didn’t pull any punches in the violence department, nor did she try to leave Kate’s hands clean through her adventure. She kills a person in the very first chapter and just keeps on killing from there. She also makes some mistakes along the way, and some of them cost people their lives. There are times when her actions are not just morally questionable but clearly very wrong, and yet we can’t help being on her side.
I have to confess that romance didn’t really work for me because it appeared to be born out of convenience and proximity, and not genuine affection and understanding, but luckily it doesn’t take up much of the book at all and I was able to live with it. Both Kate and Jesse stomped all over each other and had very little consideration for one another, and yet they were both so very forgiving when I wouldn’t have been.
Another thing I would have done differently was to put the author’s note at the beginning of the book. I would have enjoyed it even more had I known beforehand that some of the characters were actual historical figures. Learning it after reading had me scrambling to remember and separate fiction from fact. Other than that minor detail, which isn’t Bowman’s fault at all, Vengeance Road is a very worthy foray into this little explored genre and it stands as proof that Bowman is a splendid author with so much more to give.
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.