Monday, April 14, 2014

Road to Reckoning - Book Review

From the coverOne does not travel the path to vengeance alone

Twelve-year-old Thomas Walker has never left New York City. His father, a traveling salesman hoping to earn money by selling Samuel Colt’s recent invention, the “Improved Revolving Gun,” takes young Thomas with him on the road. But even the world’s first true revolver cannot save them from danger, and what starts as an adventure soon turns into a nightmare.

Thomas soon finds himself alone, and must rely on his own wits, courage, and determination, as well as a wooden replica of the Colt revolver, to protect himself. Luckily, an encounter with a surly ex-ranger, Henry Stands, leads to an improbable partnership, and the two set out in perilous pursuit of vengeance. That is, if they can escape the thieves who lurk around each trail, river, and road—and who have already stolen so much from Thomas.
In the spirit of The Sisters Brothers and True Grit, this spare, elegant, and emotionally resonant story conveys, through a boy’s eyes, a beautiful father-son story, as well as the fascinating history of how the birth of the revolver changed the course of violence in America. Road to Reckoning offers a window into the history of the American West and the heart of a boy yearning for love.

My thoughts :

Road to Reckoning by Robert Lautner is a fine novel. Thomas is a young and likable main character. He is thoughtful and plucky and has a desire to live in spite of being very much alone and very frightened. It's easy to root for him as he journeys home and away from the dangers that met him on the trail.

I especially appreciated Lautner's use of language. It's beautiful while also being sparse and brief. He can describe the rocky hillside, or Thomas's fear, or the very men that strike terror in the young boy's heart so that the reader can see and feel and imagine but with just the right amount of words. Brevity is a remarkable gift and Lautner possesses it.

The story is well paced and full of danger and suspense. I was compelled to continue turning the pages and see Thomas through his adventure to the safety of home.

The problem is that at times the novel doesn't feel truly authentic. Perhaps I was thrown off by the cover's announcement that the novel is "a window into this history of the American West..." In one sense, this is accurate. The Colt Revolver definitely had a major influence on the American West. However, this novel takes place primarily in New York and Pennsylvania. Even in 1837 this area wasn't considered the American West. It wasn't even the frontier at this period of time.

If you can get past that and the occasional anti-gun preaching, Road to Reckoning by Robert Lautner is a quick and exciting adventure of survival.

Road to Reckoning by Robert Lautner was published by Touchstone in February 2014.

**I received a complimentary copy of Road to Reckoning in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was received.**

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