ARC Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

ARC Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Walk on Earth a Stranger
The Gold Seer Trilogy #1
by Rae Carson

Genres: Adventure, Western, Young Adult
Publication date: September 22nd, 2015
by Greenwillow Books

Format: eARC

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Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.

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

Walk on Earth a Stranger may just be the best YA Western I’ve read so far. It’s all I ever asked for bundled into an exciting adventure that had flipping pages as fast as I could. Fair warning though, this book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

For as long as I can remember, reading books that feature journeys has been *my* thing. I mean lots of things are my thing, but I always find myself craving a good old adventure. Across a country, to the top of the mountains, WHEREVER. I love living vicariously through characters journeying to some place and reading about the hardships they have to overcome. But that is just me as a reader and not everyone wants to read an entire book reading about a character’s journey. Some people will want more.

I don’t have much to go on but I have noticed that all the YA Westerns I’ve read so far, parents seem to die and I am not sure how I feel about this trope. Wouldn’t it be nice if parents actually got to live and if there were other catalysts to inspire these journeys across the wild west? There were a bunch of other tropes but I kind of just moved on from them once we got to the actual journey bits. That’s when the book REALLY just grabbed my attention and I COULDN’T STOP.

Leah is a fantastic main character. I loved reading about her, I loved being inside of her head and I LOVED getting to be a part of her journey. When her parents are suddenly killed and it becomes obvious that her uncle, her new guardian was responsible, Leah decides to run. Leah is smart. A lot of female leads are smart, but I love that Leah is not someone who rushes things. When she decided to run away from her uncle, she actually decided to stay an extra couple days so she could plan and get things ready. She also knows how to take care of herself but realizes that when running away, groups are better than individuals.

This book also features a diverse set of characters which is awesome. We have the “confirmed bachelors”, we have Hamptom who is a slave and Leah’s best friend Jeff who is half Native American and thus has to deal with with a lot of prejudice and resist the urge to punch people (or was that just me?)

What I loved about this book is that it not only featured diverse characters, it also addressed a lot of important issues of the time. The book brought up the injustices being committed against various races by the Caucasians (trying to be PC here and not say white people) and it also showed us instances of where assholes did horrible things because of their assumed superiority.

The writing was also terrific although I did find myself sometimes slipping into the ‘cowboy slang’ from Vengeance Road. If you read my review for Vengeance Road, you’ll know that the cowboy slang had actually bothered me in the beginning, but here I was finishing off certain sentences the way they would have been if this book were written in the same style as Vengeance Road. Having said that, I thought the writing style was perfectly suited to the situation and really did make me feel like I was right in the middle of it all, journeying across the continent with Leah and company.

The book also has a slight fantasy aspect, given Leah’s gold-detecting powers but their origin wasn’t really explored and to be honest, it really didn’t bother me that it wasn’t. I didn’t need the answers to all the questions and I was okay letting her powers be (especially since there were so many other awesome things happening.)

There is also a subtle romance in the book. My shippy senses were already tingling as soon as I was introduced to the two characters so to finally see my ship sail towards the end of the book made me so happy! It’s a friends-to-more kind of romance and it just made sense given how well they (yes, I am purposefully avoiding naming who the love interest is) worked together and how supportive they were of each other.

As I mentioned earlier, this book is all about the journey. In fact, after the first 20 percent or so, the entire book IS the journey Leah makes from her town in Georgia to Sacramento, California. The journey was so well written and SO DETAILED. I was FANGIRLING and was up until 5:00 in the morning reading the book! I literally couldn’t take my eyes off the pages and all I wanted to know was what hardship they would have to face next and how they’d overcome it. I wanted to know how many people would make it to California (because people do die and it was heartbreaking.)

This book is perfect for readers who enjoy stories of survival and adventure. It is detailed, heartbreaking and at the same time manages to fill you with so much joy. I LOVE THIS BOOK and maybe you will too!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
World-building
Romance
Overall: 4.4
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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

    Am I the only one who didn’t know this was a western?! Your review has me sooo excited to read this! I’m a HUGE fan of adventure, especially since I’m an adventurous person myself, so I know I’d love that aspect. I do agree, I feel as though some readers may not be able to connect or appreciate this, causing them to get bored and possibly giving up on the story. I absolutely adore the friends-to-lovers scenario, so guess who’ll be picking this up on the release date . . . MEEE! Great review as always Shika Boo ;)
    Tika recently posted…The Appearance Of Annie Van Sinderen ARC Review — TrippyMy Profile

  2. says

    I also love books that feature those journeys! They’re very exciting, and I don’t know – I also love a good adventure, and since books are the closer thing that can get me in one of them, then… well, I enjoy them! It’s so refreshing to see such a protagonist like Leah. And boy, I would also love if the parents stay alive. It can’t be so bad! Please let them stay! As for YA westerns… I haven’t yet read any of them, but I think I will start with this one before Vengeance Road. Fantastic review, Rashika!
    Vane J. recently posted…Review: Under The Dusty MoonMy Profile

  3. says

    Yaaay :D Stunning review Rashika. <3 I loved this one a little bit more, but so so so thrilled that you loved it too :D I wish everyone could love it like we did. I'm just dying for book two now, hih :) It's going to be awesome. Thank you for sharing your thoughts sweetie. <3
    Carina Olsen recently posted…In My Mailbox #202My Profile

  4. says

    Now that you mentioned it, orphaned heroes/heroines are a common trope in YA. I guess it forces the kids to be adults and less juvenile? Pulls them to the level of adult audiences reading the series and inspire the younger set?

    I’m not a big Western reader. There’s a few that I’ve read and enjoyed, it’s one of those things that I’m picky about. It’s good that this worked for you. It does sound like a great series debut.
    Braine Talk Supe recently posted…Loved It: Hexomancy by Michael R. UnderwoodMy Profile

  5. says

    AHHHH I AM SO GLAD YOU LIKE THIS BOOK!! *hyperventilates with happiness* Ever since I read Girl of Fire and Thorns I’ve been totally awe-struck by Rae Carson. I WANT TO READ ALL HER BOOKS OF EVER!! I love journeys and diversity and MCs who don’t rush things. jaflkdsa I am now officially out of my brain with excitement. :D
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…Monthly Fury #56 // wherein I plan to blog less, conquer edelweiss, and chat about murder (as you do)My Profile

  6. AenteeAentee says

    This book sounds absolutely phenomenal, Rashika :D I do think Westerns are definitely NOT my thing, but between this release and Vengeance Road I may have to change my mind. I am usually unimpressed by most romance in YA books but this one has me so excited since you approve.

  7. says

    YESSSSSSS! I am so happy you loved this, Rashika!! I loved it SO. FREAKING. MUCH. and I am glad I can share the excitement with you!! Okay, back up to read the whole review ;)

    Gah, okay, I finished reading, and still yes yes yes yes yes! The characters were freaking AMAZING. And I agree that I was FINE with the gold seeing thing not being explored yet- it leaves a lot of room for the rest of the series. And THE JOURNEY. OMG. I love journey books too, and this one was epic. EPIC. I totally agree that you could just feel like you were in a wagon with them. And the ship! YES to the ship. Okay, I am going to stop flailing and fangirling all over your post, but I just love this book, and can we maybe have the next one now?
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted…This Week At Midnight (78)My Profile

  8. says

    I really enjoyed this one too and I loved the journey and how well developed all the characters and their relationships were!
    I must confess I had expected this one to be written in dialect like Vengeance Road was, so when it wasn’t, it almost felt like it was a bit too modern for me? But then I got hooked by the book and those misgivings were soon forgotten!
    Pili @ In Love With Handmade recently posted…Friday Reads: ARC Review of Into The Fire by Manda Scott!!My Profile

  9. says

    Oh Rashika, I got really excited when I saw that you were reviewing this one because it reminded me of us waiting in line for it and how we had such an awesome day that day hanging out :D So of course, it made me really happy to see that you loved this one too!!
    Books that feature journeys are MY FAVORITE TOO! There is nothing better than following a solid MC as they set out on a quest and travel the world doing so ♥ And from the things you said in your review, I can see than Walk on Earth a Stranger has the winning package for me. I’m EVEN MORE PUMPED about this one now!!! Yay. Hopefully I can make it one of my very next reads! Awesome review lady^^ xx
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: UprootedMy Profile

  10. says

    A journey *can* be awesome for me (although I actually have read few books where a journey is the main focus, the same with road-trips which, I suppose, are just modern journeys!), but at the same time… I don’t really enjoy it when it’s the sole plot. I want there to be different places seen and more momentum than that, although I’m certain there are always books that win you over even when you don’t think you like the genre, plot-arc or characters. So this could be a surprise! It certainly wins with that awesome typography! And aah! When the romance comes in in a i-know-it’s-going-to-happen and -you-know-it’s-going-to-happen but -it’s-not-going-to-happen-until-at-least-book-2-if-not-book-3 are some of the best. They may leave you yearning for the romance and the beginning of it, but they also have that awesome build up and that tends to make the eventual romance all the more brilliant. So that sounds like it’s a fantastic pointer.

    I don’t tend to be a fan of magical realism, which this sounds like it veers into (I’m not sure of it’s actual genre, so maybe I’m way off), but I’m glad it didn’t bother you. Lovely review. xx
    Romi recently posted…The Peony Lantern by Frances Watts…My Profile

  11. says

    OHMYGAWD, Rashika, I LOVED THIS, TOO!!! I think Rae Carson is excellent at writing smart heroines. And YAASSS, the characters were so, so great. The confirmed bachelors may have been my favorite (that wretched pastor my LEAST favorite). I haven’t noticed whether or not I have a thing for books that involve a journey, but I’ma keep an eye out for it from now on.

    Fantastic review! Love, love, LOVE this book :D

  12. says

    I was upset when I found out this was a Western inspired novel from reading an early review I saw a while ago. I detest cowboys and any thing that even hints at being close to having a Western theme. Too bad to because I was initially drawn to the premise of the book. I am glad to see it is a good one though. Thanks for the review, Rashika. :)
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  13. says

    The supernatural ability to sense gold sounds so awesome! I mean, I can see the issues one might have with that, but seriously how bad can it REALLY be? hehe Yay for diversity and character journeys!! It’s still really difficult to come upon a really diverse ya read, which is utterly ridiculous to me. I honestly can’t remember the last time I read YA Western. It sounds fan-freaking-tastic to me! I’m glad you enjoyed this so much! I’ve moved Walk on Earth a Stranger to the tip top of my wishlist thanks to this review! I’m also a new follower so yay!
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