Review of Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

VRVengeance Road
By: Erin Bowman Release
Date: September 1st 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating:

When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Red Rose Gang 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.

The Story:
I loved that Bowman chose to have her story set in the old west. This latest trend (still rather small trend but I hope we see much more) of western stories is very welcome. I find this book to be incredibly enjoyable and refreshing since I’ve not read many western style novels. I will admit that at first the writing was a tiny bit hard to get into. Bowman used grammatical error in dialog which was fitting to the story and characters but reading it took a bit to adjust too. My mind had issues trying to correct the grammar rather than get immersed in the story. I was able to get over this after about a chapter so no biggie. I wanted to put it out there though in case you are like me.

The book was set in Arizona, the descriptions were rich and made it so easy to visualize. I could easily see the scenes playing out like a movie as I read so that was really wonderful. Vengeance Road is a standalone novel so we get a full story with closure all in one book. I could see a ton of potential for companion novels so I’ve got my fingers crossed for those to happen. The pacing starts out lazy just like you’d expect a hot Arizona day but things ramp up as the story progresses.

The last third of the book was incredibly fast paced and I was happy to be surprised by some of the twists and turns. In the author’s note Bowman talks about where the inspiration for the story came as well as how she interwove her story into a legend about the location. I never skip acknowledgements or author notes but if you tend to I’d recommend you read this one.

The Characters:
Bowman did such an excellent job with these characters. Her main character, Kate, was driven by hatred and revenge which made her such an intriguing point of view to read from. I loved watching her come to terms with her grief and since I’ve just lost someone I deeply loved I could relate to her pain. I love that she was in no way a good or bad person. She fully fell in the middle ground and did good things and bad things. You can easily sympathize with her one page and then be shocked by her grit on the next.

The secondary cast was very well done. Kate goes on her journey with two brothers, Will and Jesse who are dealing with their own grief and pain. I think that the author did an exceptional job in showing how difficult life would have been in the old west. I appreciated the vast amount of growing up these teens had to experience in such a short amount of time. And for those curious- this book had no love triangle.

Final Thoughts:
Vengeance Road exceeded my expectations with a realistic depiction of the old west, complex characters and twists I didn’t see coming. This book was exceptionally well done and I highly recommend it and I’m holding out hope for a companion novel.

Vengeance Road goes on sale September 1st but you can pre-order this book now for under $10.


  1. says

    What an interesting book with Kate going around disguised as a boy. It’s also good to know that there’s no love triangle. You have piqued my interest in the book! Thanks for sharing your review with us.

  2. says

    From the advance reviews I’ve read so far, I can tell this is going to be in a lot of end of the year lists. I’ve never been a fan of anything Western but I have to try this one out! So many promising things you mentioned here esp. the main character.

  3. says

    I’m soooo tempted by this one. I think I’ll preorder it rather than requesting the ARC, though. I’m trying to keep the number of ARCs I get doooooown.

  4. says

    Another great review Kristen! I think I will definitely preorder this one since you spoke so highly of it. I was initially intrigued because of the old west but from your review it seems to have more to it than just that so that is making me want it right me-ow!

  5. says

    I just came across this book yesterday and it sounded so interesting! I’ve never really read a Western, but I was instantly drawn into the synopsis that’s full of vengeance, danger, and discovering the truth. It’s basically perfect that you wrote your review today because it solidified my need for this book! Such a gritty, tough sounding character that isn’t necessarily good or bad sounds right up my alley. Awesome review!

  6. says

    Great review Kristen! And I totally agree. I was put off by the dialect writing at first but once I got over that and used to it the story was a total page-turner. I hope this micro-trend of Westerns in YA becomes a bigger trend soon.

  7. says

    I really enjoyed Vengeance Road and thought it was such a refreshing change to read a Western YA! I loved the slang in it and the great feel it gave the story. I agree that Kate is one the characters firmly in the middle – but easy to sympathize with.
    Lovely review, Kristen 🙂

  8. says

    Yay! I’m glad to hear such good things about this book. I didn’t care for Taken, but this sounds very different. I do hope that the two brothers in Vengeance Road are very different in different in temperament from the guys in Taken, because what I remember most from that book is that the MC had such a volatile temper, and it was disturbing.

    I don’t know anything about old west Arizona, (but I do love modern day Arizona!), so I think it will be fun to read a story that explores this setting.

  9. says

    I really loved this book as well–your review is spot on!

    I hope that more Wild West books come out in YA this year…this is definitely a trend I could get on board with!

    Here’s hoping for the companion novel!

  10. says

    I have seen a lot of praise about this book around but I really wasn’t sure about it for a long time. Even though I was hearing good things I was still skeptical. But I think your review convinced me to finally give it a chance, because you loved it so? I’m still not entirely sure…

  11. says

    Woohoo! So glad you loved this one, especially because this book has been getting so much hype and attention! Thank goodness Bowman created this Wild West atmosphere really well and made it believable. And cheers to no love triangle! I’m a little nervous about the dialogue thing since I’m so picky about grammar and such, but we’ll see. Wonderful review, Kristen!

  12. says

    Yesss 😀 I’m so happy that you loved this book Kristen. <3 Gorgeous review, as always 🙂 I cannot wait to read my eARC. Soon. I just don't like reading on my iPad anymore, hah :p but yeah. Excited for it 🙂 You make it seem amazing. Yay for no triangle, hih 🙂 I always worry about that :p Thank you for sharing your stunning thoughts about it sweetie 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *