Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Early Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Vengeance Road
by Erin Bowman 
Read: August 22 - 25, 2015
September 1, 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: BEA/EW (Thank you, HMH)
Category: YA, historical fiction, gold rush, Arizona territory, revenge

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.

A 5 point breakdown of Vengeance Road: 

What I love - 

1) Kate is an amazing heroine. She is straightforward and incredibly determined in her quest to avenge her father. From even the first chapter, she doesn't hesitate on her mission. But this girl isn't a machine either, and I loved seeing the emotions underneath the angry shell she's created around herself. Kate also isn't afraid to let that shell crack open around her, and despite her mission, she is adaptable and not afraid to learn or grow. This girl is my hero. 

2) The Wild West setting was tangible in this book. I felt hot and sticky and dirty along with Kate, as if the sun was beating on me just as much. This whole culture of horses, outlaws and searching for gold fascinates me, as does seeing our country in a completely different time. Learning that the story is based on legends and that some of the characters are from history, made it all more real and exciting.

3) Although the general set up of this book is straightforward - Kate is on a mission and embarks on a road trip (or horse and trail trip rather) to find the outlaws who killed her father - I was surprised how much action there is along the way. The first 60% was especially exciting, with gun fights, fires and lots of galloping horses. Plus Kate dressing as a boy and the reveal around that was great. The ending features surprising moments and a lot more Kate badassery, especially because of how she handles herself during very tense and unexpected situations.

4) One of the people Kate meets on her way is an Apache girl named Liluye. As was completely natural at that time, they start off not trusting each other at all, with deep prejudice on both sides, but I loved the slow respect that builds between them. It's subtle and doesn't overwhelm the main storyline. These two are never going to be best friends, which is appropriate for who they are, but they come to an understanding and I really appreciated how it was done. 

What I wish - 

5) I wanted a bit more from the romance in this story. Vengeance Road has a slow building relationship between Kate and one of the brothers she picks up along her journey. Thankfully there is absolutely no love triangle at all, and I do love that this book features two brothers but there's never ever question of where the romantic tension lies. I really liked the other brother in this story a lot, but for different reasons. Also, I loathe brother triangles, and I appreciate that this book completely avoids that trap. 

But I digress. I enjoyed watching the seeds of the romance grow throughout the first half of the book. However, something happens later in the second half that negatively affected my feelings about it, and I just wasn't able to connect into the relationship as strongly after that point. Despite that, I ended the book feeling better about the romance than I thought I would, which was unexpected, but good. I'll say a few more specific things under the spoiler tag below:

Final Thoughts - 

Usually the romance has a very high weight in determining how I feel about a book, but I loved Kate, this setting and the overall storyline so much that I was able to get past my issue with it enough to really love this! Also, I think most people will not struggle with the same thing as much as I did (I'll admit to being a crazy person sometimes). I'm always a fan of historical fiction, and I'm excited that there have been more YA books set in nineteenth century American West, recently. This is a great addition! 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 


  1. I've been waiting to read more opinions about this one before diving in and I'm glad I did because your issues with romance usually align with mine. It's good to know that this wasn't a major issue for you, overall, and knowing that the romance isn't as strong as it could be is valuable information to have going in. I'm hoping that with slightly lowered expectations I'll wind up really enjoying this one. Thanks for such a helpful review, Lauren--I can't wait to meet Kate! ;)

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  3. This book caught my attention early on and I am beyond thrilled to hear that it doesn't have a love triangle. Which was probably my biggest concern when reading the synopsis. I'm definitely interested in giving this book a go once it is released so thanks so much for the review.

  4. Yesss. <3 You already know that I agree with you about all of this, lol. I also gave this precious book four stars :) It was just so so amazing. And Kate is the very best :D But yeah. I wanted more from the romance too :\ Yet I did love how it ended. Except for all those months. UGH. It bothers me. Sigh. But yeah. I love Kate too :) So glad you liked this book so much Lauren. <3 Thank you for sharing your awesome thoughts about it :)

  5. I was on the fence about whether to read this one, but I keep reading positive reviews so I'm planning on reading this one. I do love that it's a standalone, these series are killing me! Great review, glad you enjoyed it! ~Pam

  6. I'm really excited to read this book. It sounds like a great, all-around read. Glad you enjoyed it, even if the romance wasn't wholly satisfying for you.

  7. I'm glad you stuck with this one Lauren and enjoyed it for the most part! Kate is such a fantastic character and so damn admirable. I loved her fierceness and determination and loyalty but also that hint of vulnerability she lets loose every now and then. I do wish the romance had been a little different (or just, more) but I did like it more than you. :P

    Great review, lady!


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