Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on September 1st 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Western, Young Adult
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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.
I’m starting to wonder if I’m doomed to have the worst reading year of my entire life because nothing is working for me!
Here’s something you probably don’t know about me, but I grew up watching westerns thanks to my Dad (Bonanza was my favorite), and my first introduction to audio books were tapes of Louis L’Amour (One For The Mohave Kid is the one I remember most), but I don’t go out of my way to find western based books – and I haven’t watched westerns in probably 20 years now.
My point is that I went into this expecting to really enjoy it and feel nostalgic about my youth and just generally be entranced.
I was not.
I’ve never read this author before so I don’t know if these things are just an idiosyncrasy of hers, but it was really distracting for me to see the grammatical errors throughout. Even in the synopsis the name of the gang is grammatically correct – Rose Riders, but in the book often the word rose is lowercase and only the first name of the leader capitalized. Which also leads me next point in that it constantly looked like it was his last name but then why in the hell would it be lower case. Kate’s horse’s name was always capitalized but the other horses in the story were not. There would be sentences started that weren’t capitalized and there was no reason for it that I could see, and it seems illogical that an ARC would be that rough so close to release.
These things might be easily forgiven for many people but they snagged me every single time and tossed me out of the story. The vernacular was another area in which I was constantly correcting in my head then going back and saying it the way it was written – which, again, leads me to disjointed reading. I wish I would have liked this more because it should have worked for me. But if the setting is old Wild West and people say stuff like, “I’s on the way to milk that cow,”or “it were shaping up to be a nice day,” then I expect the words ending in ‘ing’ to be sans ‘g’ – it doesn’t work to say, “I’s were going to the barn,” it should say, “I’s were goin’ to the barn.” And the random times a “was” got tossed in when the book was full of “were” – little things but it was too annoying for me to let go of. I feel like this needed more editing, both line and developmental.
There are a few things I did like about it though, like that cover (surprisingly) and there was this scene:
He pauses, lifts his head to look me in the eyes.
“I think we should stop.”
He sits up slow and watches as I start fastening my shirt.
That’s how you do consent, folks! Wouldn’t it be grand if the real world understood this simple concept, too?
The characters had several humorous moments, like Will telling Kate she was dumb and Lil telling Kate she asked permission for something while Kate was asleep. There were other nuggets in here that showed the author understands feminism and I loved that – things like one of the main characters pointing out he’s an adult and makes his own choices when Kate was busy saying things were her fault, other moments in which logic about the plot was stated that made the story more interesting. There was one twist in here I didn’t anticipate and the other big reveal wasn’t shocking, but it was pretty good.
All in all I think there are some great moments in the story but I couldn’t enjoy it properly thanks to the aforementioned errors in grammar and lack of vernacular continuity. If you already love western stories with female main characters (I’m not even sure if it’s unusual to have a female MC for a western – I automatically figure it would be mostly male) then you should give this a shot, especially if you don’t get hung up on details like I do.