Author: David Hofmeyr
Publisher: Delacourte Press
Length: 336 pages
"Intense, original, compelling . . . bristles with attitude. So cool. Just read it."--Michael Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Gone and BZRKIn the vein of The Outsiders and the early Western novels of Elmore Leonard, this inventive debut novel, a cross between the cult classic Mad Max movie series and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, blends adrenaline-fueled action with an improbable yet tender romance to offer a rich and vivid portrayal of misfits and loners forced together in their struggle for a better life.
Adam Stone wants freedom and peace. He wants a chance to escape Blackwater, the dust-bowl desert town he grew up in. Most of all, he wants the beautiful Sadie Blood. Alongside Sadie and the dangerous outsider Kane, Adam will ride the Blackwater Trail in a brutal race that will test them all, body and soul. Only the strongest will survive.
The prize? A one-way ticket to Sky-Base and unimaginable luxury.
And for a chance at this new life, Adam will risk everything.
". . . gritty nonstop action."--School Library Journal
Protagonist: Adam Stone wants to get out of Blackwater and the only way to get out is to ride the Blackwater Trail, but there are a few things holding him back, things like his brother, the girl he wants more than anything to be with, and his own low self-esteem. A series of events lead to Adam needing to enter the race, and with a resolve to win he heads out in the most dangerous race of his life. For the most part I liked the character of Adam, at first he's a bit self-deprecating, he's not quite sure if he could complete the race, let alone win it. He's not a very strong character, but over the course of the book his resolve steels and he changes. My only criticism of Adam is his feelings for Sadie, I felt like I was told how he felt rather than was shown it.
Romance: Speaking of which the romance with Sadie and Adam was extremely boring. Now first off there isn't a lot of romance, which normally isn't a bad thing, but since the romance is sort of a "selling point" in the description I was expecting something more. Secondly I felt no chemistry between the two, at least not at first, as the book rides on its last legs I actually started rooting for them a bit, but for most of the book I felt nothing. Actually I kind of joked in my Goodreads updates that I was shipping Adam and Kane, and the sad reality is that Kane and Adam ended up having more chemistry than Adam and Sadie.
World-Building: In this post-apocalyptic wasteland there are a few known townships occupied by the "Left Behind" and a space station filled with luxury and decadence, or so the stories say. Here people ride bykes, motorcycles that can learn from you movements and some say keep an echo of your soul, and those who rode before you within its mechanism. For a world as seemingly small as this one, there was a lot to it. There were always new things to learn and understand about it, the sad part is, what I initially thought was a standalone (which it still might be?) looks now to be a series and with it so many more questions than answers. I'll be interested to see, if this is a series, how the world will continue to develop and what new answers are out there.
Predictability: For the most part this book wasn't all that predictable, in fact there was probably only one actual twist that I was able to predict. However this happened to be the biggest twist in the book. What's even worse is that the author practically tells the reader before the reveal taking away the great shock and surprise. I mean, sure I guessed the twist before the answer was practically crammed down my throat, but having it validated in such an unofficial way kind of ruined it for me.
Ending: So like I said, I originally thought this to be a standalone, which it might still be. If it is a standalone, the ending sucks, plain and simple. There's too much left up in the air and I would have preferred a more conclusive end. However I'm going to treat this, and rate this, like it's the first book in a series. If that's the case this ending was very well done. Like most first books it's plateaus at the end giving no real cliffhanger or shocking twist, there is however a declaration that makes it clear that this isn't the end.
So tentatively I'm giving this book four stars on the hope that this is really the beginning of a series, however if it turns out that this is a standalone, then I'll have to demote it to either two or three stars. However this is still an enjoyable read, very high octane and exciting!