ARC Review: Vengeance Road – Erin Bowman

Vengeance Road – Erin Bowman

23719270When 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.

Release Date: September 1st, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I don’t have much experience with Westerns – movies or books – so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a quick, delightful read.

What I liked:

-this cover. My gosh, this cover. It’s gorgeous. It was done by Teagan White who also wrote and illustrated the adorable Adventures with Barefoot Critters!

-Kate is a badass heroine. When her father dies, she doesn’t sit around and wallow. She decides she wants revenge and nothing will stop her from going after the Rose Riders. Vengeance was the foremost thought in her mind and, unlike a lot of characters, she stayed vengeful for 99% of the book.

She ran around with her guns a-blazin’ and it was awesome. The entire time, I kept picturing Zee from American Outlaws, except more trigger-happy.

american outlaws

-classic girl-dresses-up-as-a-boy-and-falls-for-her-male-companion. I shipped Kate/Jesse so hard, it was ridiculous. Their banter constantly put a smile on my face, and I liked how the romance was a side plot, not the main focus.

-the writing was also really well done, and even if the plot was fairly simple, the writing moved the story along quickly. It took a minute to get used to their dialect, but it was added a bit of authenticity. There were a couple of things I guessed early on, but it was satisfying to have worked it out. It was gritty but entertaining.

What I didn’t like:

-I would have liked Lil to have a bigger role to play apart from the sidekick/guide, but I don’t think there would have been room for her character to grow in a mostly-accurate historical novel.

-sometimes Kate’s thoughts felt repetitive because she was so focused on getting revenge, but not enough to detract from her overall sassiness.

I really enjoyed Vengeance Road. I haven’t heard of a lot of Western YA novels, so this might be one of its kind, but it was enjoyable with a great female lead.

Rating:

4.5 interrobangs

4.5 interrobangs

The Arrivals – Melissa Marr

The Arrivals:

https://bellsiebooks.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/e6b87-thearrivals.jpg

“Chloe walks into a bar and blows five years of sobriety. When she wakes, she finds herself in an unfamiliar world, The Wasteland. She discovers people from all times and places have also arrived there: Kitty and Jack, a brother and sister from the Wild West; Edgar, a prohibition bootlegger; Francis, a one-time hippie; Melody, a mentally unbalanced 1950s housewife; and Hector, a former carnival artist.
 
None know why they arrived there–or if there is way out of a world populated by monsters and filled with corruption.
 
Just as she did in Graveminder, Marr has created a vivid fantasy world that will enthrall. Melissa Marr’s The Arrivals is a thoroughly original and wildly imagined tale about making choices in a life where death is unpredictable and often temporary.”

You know how sometimes you love an author and you find out they’ve written a book that you haven’t read and you’re all “OH MY GLOB, I NEED THIS” and then you finally read it and it’s amazing? This was not one of those times.

I love Melissa Marr; I recently read her latest YA, Made For You, and, even though I found part of it to be predictable, I still loved it. I did not enjoy The Arrivals even half as much as Made For You.

For one, don’t let the synopsis fool you – Chloe doesn’t show up until about a quarter of the way through. Which is fine, but holy smokes, it takes forever for anything to happen. And, because Chloe is new to this world, but  you’ve already spent 60 pages in the Wasteland, you already know what’s going on before she does.

That was the main problem with this book: it felt like there was a lot of repetition. The chapters alternated from multiple points of view – Chole, Jack, Kitty, and Ajani (the bad guy) – which made it feel like everyone was telling me the same thing, only from slightly different perspectives. Honestly, the entire book felt like it was an early draft – that the ideas hadn’t been fully formed and that if there had been more time (it was less than 300 pages), it could have been epic.Instead, it just left me with a lot of questions.

I also didn’t really like any of the characters. Normally I love Melissa Marr’s heroes – Seth from Wicked Lovely (actually, most of the guys from WL, including some of the “bad” guys), even Nate from Made For You – but this guy, Jack – despite being a cowboy and having the name “Jack” (I often love people/characters named Jack – Jack Skellington, Jack Barakat, Captain Jack Sparrow, etc), he was kind of meh. Kitty was boring, I stopped caring about her relationship with Edgar, the other Arrivals weren’t super developed, and Chloe – well, I don’t know if prancing around a new world in a skirt with a thigh-high slit and no underwear is a good idea (and she wonders why she keeps “falling for the wrong guys”. Maybe make sure you’re wearing underwear before you run around with a gunslinger? Also, if she showed up in jeans, what were the odds that her legs were shaved (or hairless) so that she could wear such a revealing skirt and not be all “my legs are too hairy for this, I feel weird”? This question haunts me whenever I read a period piece).

The only character I found interesting was Garuda, the vampire-like creature who offered friendly advice. And possibly Daniel – Kitty’s former lover who worked with Ajani – but he was in it for all of five pages (and, since he was described as looking like Jack – Kitty’s brother – I thought it would have worked better if he was their older brother because then you could talk about family loyalty and whatever, instead of another pseudo-love triangle).

The thing is, this is Marr’s second “adult” book, but it read like a (not very well written) YA novel. I read a lot of YA, so normally this isn’t an issue, but if I’m going to read something that’s classified as “adult”, it has to be different than YA, otherwise what’s the point? Throwing in a bit more cussing and some awkwardly-timed sex scenes doesn’t actually make it “adult”.

Overall – as you can probably tell – I was very disappointed. I wanted to like it because I’m a big Marr fan, but – unlike her other books – it felt like a chore to finish. Great concept, but mediocre execution.