Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 1, 2015
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5
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.
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman is one of my most anticipated books of 2015 because of the somewhat novice concept of the Wild West as the setting that got me really excited to read this book. Vengeance Road started off great: a murder of our main character Kate’s father, the involvement of a gang, and an avenging daughter. I was sure that I was going to 100% love Vengeance Road. However, as I kept reading, more and more problems arose that detracted my liking for this book as a whole.
1. THE APACHE GIRL
On Kate’s road to avenge her father’s death, she is unexpectedly joined up by an Apache girl, a Native Indian girl who becomes Kate’s scout because she knows the land well. The Apache girl’s name is Liluye, and she had some fire for sure, even with the way she’s been treated as a slave before. It’s not Liluye that I didn’t like – it’s the way Kate treats her.
Kate’s treatment toward Liluye rubbed me the wrong way. For example, Kate always calls her “Lil” while Liluye didn’t like that. Kate is disrespectful to this girl of color, and I felt uncomfortable with Kate’s character after that. I just got this whole “white superiority” vibe going.
2. THE ROMANCE DIDN’T SELL
+ There are two boys that go on the adventure with Kate. Will Colton & Jesse Colton, brothers. Will is Kate’s age, while Jesse is 2-3 years older.
+ There is no love triangle.
+ Kate develops a romantic relationship with one of these guys, but I didn’t believe it. It’s swoon-worthy, but I feel that there isn’t enough substance to build a romance out of it.
3. THAT’S NOT TO SAY THIS BOOK DIDN’T WORK AT ALL…
There are a lot of things I loved about Vengeance Road. Such as:
+ The setting was amazing. You can tell Bowman did a thorough research of the time period (late 1870s) and the atmosphere. I could practically feel the dust in my throat and sweat trickling down my spine with her vivid imagery.
+ Kate’s voice. The entire story is told through Kate’s POV, and she does not talk like a normal YA heroine. She’s got the slang and Western dialect, which definitely added to the setting as a whole.
+ The conflict is also done surprisingly well. Vengeance Road surely is a page-turner because of the fast-paced nature of the story, and also because you’ll be rooting for Kate to avenge her father’s death.
4. THE VERDICT
As my first go into Western YA, I’d say Vengeance Road is a solid read. I don’t particularly like Kate’s treatment toward the girl of color, nor did I like the romance, but Bowman had me convinced I was in the Wild West with the way she wove in the brilliant imagery, intense plot, and Western dialect. If you’re new to the genre, I would recommend Vengeance Road because it’s a fun and addicting read.