Monday, January 29, 2018

Review: The Wolf Road – Beth Lewis


The Wolf Road – Beth Lewis



In the remote wilds of a ravaged land, Elka has been raised by a man who isn't her father. Since finding her wandering in the woods when she was seven, he has taught her how to hunt, shoot, set snares and start fires—everything she needs to survive. All she knows of the world outside is gleaned from whispers of a cataclysmic event that turned the clock back on civilization by a hundred and fifty years and reduced governments and technology to shambles, leaving men at the mercy of the elements—and each other.  
Everything changes when Elka learns that the man she has been calling father is harboring a terrible secret. Armed with nothing but her knife and her wiles, she decides to escape his clutches and sets out on a long journey to the frozen north in the hope of finding her long-lost parents.  
But as the trail of blood and bodies grows in her path, Elka realizes that daddy won't be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she's going to survive, she'll have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about what he's turned her into.



Review: I’m starting to think I don’t like road trip books, even post-apocalyptic ones. There’s just something about watching a character wander around that’s really, really . . . tedious.

Elka lives in the ruins of what was once British Columbia. As a child, her parents went north in search of gold, leaving her to be raised by a man called Trapper. Elka and Trapper live deep in the forest and rarely see other people. On one of her rare trips into town, Elka learns that Trapper is wanted for the murder of a young boy. She decides to run away and find her parents. With Trapper on her trail, the police hunting for her, and a head full of secrets, she might not make it through the wilderness.

When I opened this novel and read the first line, I immediately groaned and closed the book. It’s written entirely in dialect, like Elka is talking to the reader. I don’t like dialect because it slows down my reading so much that I get frustrated. But, I decided to plow through this book. My reading life needs challenges, right? The mystery of Elka’s past was compelling enough that I wanted to read it. I’m glad I did. The dialect isn’t too hard to understand, and I got used to the writing style fairly quickly.


“Ain't no monster. Monsters ain't real 'cept in kids' imaginations, under the beds, in the closets. We live in a world a' men and there ain't no good come out of tellin' them they monsters. Makes 'em think they ain't done nothin' wrong, that it's their nature and they can't do nothin' to change that. Callin' em a monster makes 'em something different from the rest of us, but they ain't. They just men, flesh and bone and blood.” – The Wolf Road



I think Elka is a realistic post-apocalyptic character. She’s not very likeable. She knows how to survive in the wilderness, but she’s uneducated and doesn’t have any people skills. (I can totally relate to her in the people-skills department. I don’t have those either.) She would rather do things by herself instead of relying on another person.

Actually, Elka’s character development is kind of amazing. She changes a lot over the course of the novel, and all of the changes are believable. She starts off completely denying the awful things she did while living with Trapper. As the story progresses, she struggles to live with herself because of what she’s done. Eventually, she has to admit to her past and figure out what to do with her future.


“I didn't take well to pitying yourself. It weren't worth the effort or time and it pissed people off.” – The Wolf Road 
 
“You can't admit to someone else what you're too damn afraid to admit to yourself.” – The Wolf Road 
 
“One a' them rules is don't go trusting another man's path . . . People do it, they do what their mommies and daddies did, they make them same mistakes, they have them same joys and hurts, they just repeating. Trees don't grow exactly where their momma is; ain't no room . . . I weren't following no one up through life.” – The Wolf Road



Elka is an unreliable narrator. She’s hiding some horrific secrets. If her secrets get out, she could be executed. The mysteries in Elka’s past were compelling enough to keep me reading, even though I wasn’t loving the book.

I had a really hard time getting into this story. Part of the problem was the dialect, and part of it was the slowness. Elka spends a lot of the book walking through the forest. She does occasionally run into danger, but the dangers are separated by long stretches of walking. I didn’t become truly interested in the story until halfway through, when Elka encounters Penelope. The strange and wonderful people who Elka meets are more thought-provoking than a walk in the woods.

The characters who Elka crosses paths with give the reader a better sense of the post-apocalyptic world. The world is my favorite part of the story. It has a Wild West feel. It’s lawless, unpredictable, often gory. I love the vividness of it.

I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would. I enjoyed the world, and Elka is an intriguing character, but I was underwhelmed with the plot. I feel like I spent a long time waiting for something to happen.



TL;DR: A creepy mystery and a believable world, but you need the patience to wander through the woods first.









27 comments:

  1. I like post-apocalyptic stories that have a bit of a twist to them; I think the dialect part would have bothered me quite a bit, but I'm glad to hear it was easy to get used to. I'm interested to learn more about the world in this book.

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    1. The world was awesome. If you read it, I hope you like it.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. I felt the same way about this book back when I read it. I was so intrigued by the premise and I liked where the story was going... it just too SO long to get there.

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    1. Yeah, I think I remember your review. I agree that the pace of this book is frustrating. Just get to the north already!

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  3. This sort of sounds intriguing but I don't know...life is too short for books other bloggers didn't like?

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  4. Shame you didn't love this book as much as you thought you would - hope your next read treats you better <3

    Charlotte | https://charlotteidek.com

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  5. I'm sorry this one didn't live up to your expectations. That's always a bummer. Great review, though. I haven't heard of this one and it's totally something I would read.
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review

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  6. It's a shame that this one wasn't what you expected. I love a good post apocalyptic book but am not much of a road trip book fan either.

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    1. Yeah, I need to find some apocalypse books where the characters don’t just wander around.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  7. I don't mind slower books, but I'm a little worried about the dialect. Even Hagrid's lines got a little tedious to read at times! In the end I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories, though, so I'll suck it up and give it a try. Loved your review :)

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    1. YES! I hated Hagrid’s dialect. Especially because it’s inconsistent between the books. If you read this one, I hope you like it.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  8. I enjoyed your candid review. That dialect is really strong!

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    1. It is strong, but I got used to it surprisingly fast.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  9. Kind of a sweet-and-sour review. I think there would be things I’d like here. As for dialects, have you ever read “Clockwork Orange”? I felt I had learned a new language by the time I finished it.

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    1. I have read A Clockwork Orange. I saw the movie first, so that helped a lot with the reading comprehension.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  10. The Wolf Road has been on my TBR for awhile, but I've been avoiding it for all the reasons you mentioned. I also don't like dialect that's too overpowering.

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    1. I also avoided it for a long time. Dialect always makes me nervous.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  11. I like road trip books but not like this I don't think. The slowness and dialect would probably be a big no for me.

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    1. That’s understandable. It is very slow and dialect-heavy.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  12. After your review, I think I will have to pass on this book. Hope your next read is better!

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  13. I think I might actually like this. I can see why the dialect annoyed you at first though.

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  14. I enjoy road trips during an epocalypse event but I'm not a fan of the 'wandering the wastelands' long after the event kind of plot. No doubt the dialect thing would probably bug me too!

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    1. Yeah, you don’t get to see the apocalypse in this one. You just learn that bombs destroyed the environment and killed pretty much everybody.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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