Published by HMH Books For Young Readers on September 1, 2015
Genres: YA Historical Fiction
Source: For Review
I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!
Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”
When Kate’s father is murdered by a notorious gang, she finds out that it was all because he had a map leading to a hidden gold mine and perhaps there were things her father kept from her. She sets out on a dangerous trek, disguised as a boy, across unforgiving terrain and elements to follow the gang and get revenge for her father’s murder. Along the way she hits danger head on, plus learns the greed that gold can breed, but also meets some people who help her along her quest.
I have been loving the branching out that historical YA has been doing lately — I’m so here for all the Wild West and Gold Rush novels! Vengeance Road was all the adventure I had hoped it would be but I wish I would have felt more for the characters.
What I liked:
The setting — Wild West, y’all: Erin Bowman really knew how to give this gritty feel of life during this time. I could imagine them riding their horses through the plains and along the river. I could see the rocky terrain through the mountains. The small town main streets from the Western movies. The effects of the gold rush. The saloons. The lawlessness that abounded. The danger of life in this time. I love being plopped in this time period even though I’d never want to live it. Also, I really kind of loved that you got that rough vernacular with how the characters spoke. It took a little bit to get used to but it added to that Wild West scene in my head.
The action & adventure: I *LOVE* a good adventure novel. I love fantasy obviously but sometimes I just want an adventure novel that IS set in this world. Kate’s quest definitely fit the bill there. This was definitely a page-turner as Kate sets out on this mission for revenge in a blaze of fury. There are shoot-outs, perilous escapes, dangerous gangs and also shocking moments that I didn’t expect. Lots of hold-your-breath moments! I was so happy to find such an action-packed adventure that surges forward into more and more dangerous situations until the OMG explosive conclusion to Kate’s quest for revenge.
The actual high stakes: Sometimes I read books that I think will have high stakes because of the nature of the book and I feel like they don’t really live up to them…this was not one of those. I could FEEL the high stakes of this book. Kate is propelled forward with intensity to exact revenge on this awful gang members who killed her father and you can FEEL how reckless she will be to make sure that happens….no matter if she dies or not. She was going out guns a-blazing and she didn’t really care what the outcome was as long as she avenged her father’s death. When the characters were in danger, I believed it. The ruthlessness I expected? Totally there. Erin Bowman created a world of grit and danger and it lived up to what it was set up to be.