Thursday, February 18, 2016

Book Review: Revenge and the Wold by Michelle Modesto

Title: Revenge and the Wild
Written by: Michelle Modesto
Published: February 2, 2016 by Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler. 

Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways. 

But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now. This thrilling novel is a remarkable tale of danger and discovery, from debut author Michelle Modesto.

This was one of my most anticipated debuts of 2016. It sounded like such a "me book." And while there were some really great elements, it fell a little short for me and ended up just being a "meh book."

One of the things I liked most about this book was the world. I've been absolutely loving the YA western settings lately and this book is just one more example. There was so much drama just built into the world that was created here and I loved being immersed in it. But this took all of that a step further with some great steampunk vibe and dark creatures. No, I don't mean vampires and werewolves, or anything supernatural they were there but they seemed a little superfluous or just background for the world. I mean the cannibals. It was such a creative concept and they were dark and pretty gruesome additions to the Western-esque world that fit so well. I've seen some reviews that mention just how much is going on with the world but for me it worked. Yes, it is a lot and I would have liked there to be a little bit more about the actual magic at play here but I think it would have lost something if it didn't have the supernatural aspects.

I also liked the plot of this book despite it having a few moments where it didn't totally work. It was a pretty solid revenge story and there was tons of high stakes adventure including a climax that had me on the edge of my seat. There were also some really great mysteries including at least one that had me totally shocked. Like the world, I think there was just a lot going on and a ton of plot points working together here. There was the larger and overlapping plot that intertwined with a couple smaller plots. When that happens, you really have to bring things full circle in the climax. I'm not sure it actually got there. There were some moments that felt like they were just a means to an end, others where there was a bit of dues ex machina, and still others where I'm not sure there was an actual resolution. I do think however that pacing was a bit disjointed and did drag the plot at times. But on the whole I was so engaged in the plot development.

But what didn't work for me was the character development. The characters in and of themselves were fine. I liked that Westie is not your typical female protagonist. I appreciate that she's vulgar, swears, drinks, and generally doesn't take crap from anyone. It fits with the Western vibe of the book. But I didn't like her development, or lack there of. A lot of it just seemed kind of basic. The reasons she changes her behaviors and gets others to listen to her is both forced and full of quick fixes. None of it seemed to come organically and it wasn't like she learned anything about herself or how she relates to others. Her changing was just the way to succeed. Because of that it pulled me out of the larger story. And because her development felt forced, the way the others treated her got in the way of my enjoyment of them. The relationships, especially the romances, felt just so generic. It was a case where every single male of a certain age being in love with the main character and they gave her a pass when she messed up and wanted to believe the best in her. Even those who didn't take her at face value changed their opinions with little provocation. The characterization on the whole just didn't work for me.

On the whole, Revenge and the Wild is an interesting read despite a disjointed plot and characters I didn't really connect with. It had a really interesting world with a great Western setting and creatures that added to a gory and action packed plot.

I give Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto 7.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. I had high hopes for this book and while it didn't really blow me away, I liked it. It's a short and fast read which was nice. I think I would recommend this one to anyone looking for another YA Western and if you like your books with a lot going on.

Have you read Revenge and the Wild? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Great review. This book also caught my attention. It sounds really unique, but I’ve seen a lot of “Meh” reviews, so I’m not sure if I’ll get around to reading it anytime soon.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Thanks AJ. It wasn't a bad read, it just had a lot going on and muddied the waters a little bit. I have seen some people totally love it so if you're interested maybe snag it from the library.

  2. Nice! I've been hearing a lot of good things about this one! I almost passed it up but then ordered it last weekend in a whimsical moment! Sorry to hear things didn't work for you, I'm hoping to like this one since I initially thought of passing it up. There's always that reader's remorse feeling every now and then. But since you still gave it good marks, I'm hoping to enjoy it as well! Again, nice review!

    1. Yes, I think I had a bit of readers remorse. And I also think it may have been a case of the personal hype monster. It seemed like such a me book and then it didn't turn out that way so I feel the disappointment a little deeper.