ARC Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

ARC Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Vengeance Road
by Erin Bowman

Genres: Adventure, Western, Young Adult
Publication date: September 1st, 2015
by HMH Books For Young Readers

Format: ARC

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When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there's room for love in a heart so full of hate.

In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

You know what makes me happy? That YA Westerns are finally becoming a thing. One of my favorite (and most anticipated books of the year) was a YA Western and as soon as I heard that Vengeance Road was a YA Western (AND SAW THAT BEAUTIFUL COVER), I was sold. I ached with the need to read this book. I could already see I would fall head over heels for this tale of revenge and was so excited to dive in. This book was amazing but the reason I cannot say that this book is the best thing ever is because of the few minor issues I had.  BUT LET ME TELL YOU, this book does the genre justice.

I am going to start off with my few criticisms and then move on to why this book was flipping amazing.

My no.1 problem with this book was how Native Americans came up in the book. There was a lot of distrust between Native Americans and the Caucasians at the time and the author does a good job in portraying that distrust. The problem is that I wanted something more, something that would go beyond just acknowledging the hypocrisy and would go into the details of the injustice being committed. Especially since one of the secondary characters in the book happens to be Native American. But some of the things the MC said were from a place of privilege and I wanted to see another side of her that acknowledges these privileges and that there was a LOT of injustice committed by her people.

My other problem was that sometimes the cowboy slang (idk what else to call it) being used grated on me. Now, I won’t say that I am a huge stickler for proper grammar because I make mistakes all the time, but after a while the Is get annoying.  That being said, I think that for the most part, Bowman nailed the language aspect and the fact that it grated on me doesn’t really speak on whether or not I thought Bowman made a good choice. Personally, I think it actually brought the story to life and made me feel like I was right there in the wild west.

Moving on to the good bits, Kate is an AMAZING female lead. She is someone you cannot help but root for and I had so much fun watching her go on this adventure. After her father is brutally murdered, she is out for blood. She wants revenge and her blood is filled with this need for vengeance. So our adventure begins. Along the way, Kate meets two men and one of them will come to mean a lot to her.

My favorite thing about Kate is how strong she is despite her loss. I love that she is able to hold her own and is just as badass as any other cowboy out there. She may not always realize when having other people around is a good thing but given that she was disguised as a boy, one can imagine why she would go out of her way to avoid hanging out with people.  But she also develops over the course of the book and learns what is really important and I loved being there with her and enjoying the journey with her.

Then we get these amazing secondary characters that join Kate on her journey but they don’t seek vengeance, they seek GOLD. Jesse and Will are so much fun to read about. Will may be someone who comes off as immature but he managed to surprise me when it came down to important stuff. He was never naïve and was always aware of the risks, perhaps even more so than Jesse. Jesse could sometimes be too ambitious but he was also sweet, closed off and SO ADORABLE.

One of my favorite things about this book, besides the characters is how fantastically Bowman brings this historical setting to life. With her choice of words, her choice of scenes, everything. There are gold hunts, gun fights, running away in the dark, and just good ole riding off in the dusk. Everything in this book screams western and I LOVED it.

There is this one twist towards the end that I didn’t necessarily enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very interesting twist and I didn’t see it coming but I also saw no need for it. It didn’t really twist my mind the way one would expect something like that would. It just seem like something that was thrown in but never fully explored and thus I felt as though the book would have actually been better off without it.

Never the less, this was a very good read for me and one I won’t fail to recommend because who doesn’t love them some cowboys and a good ole fashioned adventure?

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
World-building
Romance
Overall: 3.9
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Rashika

Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).

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  1. says

    Interesting. This sounds very similar to other YA western I read last month (Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson). Heroine also disguised as a boy, seondary character is half-Native American and there is danger and gold involved. But since I really enjoyed Walk on Earth a Stranger I am intrigued by this novel as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I cannot wait to read this book myself :)
    Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing recently posted…5 TIPS How To Survive the Wait For Next Instalment in Your Favorite SeriesMy Profile

  2. says

    This book. I. Want. IT.

    That cover art is STUNNING. I want a poster just like it.

    I am SO excited because COWBOYS. How many times do you see cowboys in YA? Not a lot. Western stuff is soo cool and I’m really looking forward to seeing how Bowman uses it as a setting. It sounds pretty solid to me, with gunfights and gold hunting.

    I’ve heard that she stays true to the slang/dialect/language/cowboy talk, but I feel like it might irritate me as well. I like books that speak properly, and I can get turned off by a book when it’s written differently.
    Claudia Victoria recently posted…To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny HanMy Profile

  3. says

    I have to be honest: I really haven’t read many (read: ANY) Westerns! I know! You should recommend me some good ones to start with, Rashika, but I’m excited to see that this foray into Western YA was successful for you. I’ve been itching to give this author a shot, though I’ve been wary about her previous novels, but I think this is going to be perfect for me to try out. Thanks for such a detailed and helpful review, dear–will hopefully be joining you on the Western bandwagon soon! ;)
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah OcklerMy Profile

  4. says

    I also want more YA Western!!! Actually, I’ve never read a single one, but I am ATTRACTED to it. Plus, revenge? Count me in! Great review, Rashika. I’m glad you liked this. I was afraid of reading it beacuse of some negative reviews, but your points convinced me again! :D
    Vane J. recently posted…Review: Things We Know By HeartMy Profile

  5. says

    I’ve never had a thing for Westerns before, and I don’t know if this is the book for me. Especially when you mention the Cowboy slang. However, Kate does sound like a really great character who develops, with a great journey ahead. And the secondary characters sound fantastic, I mean I like how Will has a whole other side to him. The gold hunting sounds like a fun part of the book! Lovely review Rashika!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Mini Reviews #2 – Pandora Jones Reckoning, The Potion Diaries & AfterlightMy Profile

  6. says

    This one sounds really immersive, which is always a good thing in a book like this! I could see the cowboy slang grating on me a little as well, but if it adds to the overall world and experience I think it would be okay, like with how you felt about it. Kate also sounds freaking awesome, totally a character I could get behind. Plus I have this insane love for True Grit and feel the need to try this anyway, haha. Nice review :3
    Alise recently posted…Review: Birdy by Jess VallanceMy Profile

  7. says

    I was all ready to fling my moolah at this book on release date purely because of how gorgeous the cover is. I get all excited just looking at it and all the details. Westerns with its cowboys and gunfights are not my genre at all, but I am ready to take a wander from my comfort zone. I love a good revenge story and the tough-girl protagonist is a character archetype I will always adore. Very excited for this, thanks for the review!
    Aentee recently posted…Book Review: UpdraftMy Profile

  8. says

    HAHAHA cowboy speak!! Oh man, that is the best way to describe it :P I don’t think I’ve read a western, let along a western YA so this book is definitely very intriguing. I love me some revenge plots ;)

    I can see why those minor details grated on you though Rashika — I think I would have reacted the same way. ALL the characters sound amazing, and well written. Keen to check this one out! Thanks for sharing lovely xx
    Joy @ Thoughts By J recently posted…Discussion: Are You A Chronic Re-reader? What’s Your Poison?My Profile

  9. says

    Though I’m not the biggest fan of Westerns, I’ve been excited to read this.
    However, I have been thwarted at every turn. They ran out of copies at BEA. Then I was approved on Netgalley but the publisher disabled the Kindle option due to formatting issues and now I can’t access it.
    So I will read this eventually and I look forward to it after reading your review.
    Jen @ YA Romantics
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  10. says

    I love how YA Western is becoming a more prominent genre! It’s so exciting, and I LOVE HOT COWBOYS. I’m glad Bowman decided to bring up the hypocrisy and cruelness towards the Native Americans. It seems she didn’t go far enough though… Kate seems like a great character, and I’m so excited about the setting and the feel of this all :) Spectacular review!

  11. says

    Completely agree Rashika, I like being shown more than simply told, it makes the reader invest much more emotionally too. I had no idea that ‘westerns’ were even a thing in YA now. I can’t tell you how utterly excited I am! A kick ass female protagonist, vivid setting AND an incredible cover? I’m sold. I can’t wait for it to be released to grab a copy. Brilliant review! <3
    Kelly recently posted…Burn by Paula Weston and the most awesome Interview ever!My Profile

  12. says

    True story about the “cowboy slang”: I seriously spoke that way in my head for a few hours after finishing the book ;) I liked it, LOVED the setting and Kate. She was definitely badass, but it felt VERY authentic- not like a forced tough girl, like she was raised that way by her dad, and it just fit! The only problem I had was that I kind of anticipated the twists, so it wasn’t as exciting, but I still really enjoyed it! Great review :)
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  13. says

    I have seen this book around but this is the very first review of this book that I have seen. I actually like the idea of it being a YA Western and well, I have never tried a book like this before. So I think I will try it out. You did want some more in some places, but it seems like it would be a good introduction to the series.
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