Posts Tagged: The Gold Rush YA

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

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I received this book for free from Greenwillow in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae CarsonWalk on Earth a Stranger Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy
Published by Greenwillow Books on September 22, 2015
Genres: Historical, Paranormal, YA
Source: Greenwillow
Buy on Amazon

The first book in a new trilogy from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Rae Carson. A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America.

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety? Rae Carson, author of the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, dazzles with this new fantasy that subverts both our own history and familiar fantasy tropes.

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.

Long story short: this book got me out of a dreadful book slump.

One of a bookworm’s worst nightmares? That feeling when you just can’t get into any book. I’ve started feeling this way recently, having started at least five novels in the last five days and not finishing a single one. I just couldn’t feel anything towards them. Is it me or is it the book? Either way, I was a wreck with the guilt, considering the backlog of books, ARCs and otherwise, that have been on my shelves for months.

Leave it to Rae Carson’s fantastic storytelling skills and genuine characters to pull me out of that abyss. ALL HAIL THE QUEEN!

This book gave me newfound life. The Gold Rush era + an uncanny ability to feel the presence of gold wherever they are + a gender bender during a time when women are seen as something to be taken care and owned?! This is definitely one of the most unique premises I’ve read recently, and Carson owned it with Leah Westfall’s character, the only daughter of gold miner parents who was killed by someone after her abilities.

Leah Westfall is the fricking bomb, guys. I love her to kingdom come. She is headstrong, level-headed, and determined; she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty mucking stalls, hunting game, and looking for gold during a time when women were seen as only good enough for childbirth and laundry. Because of the unfortunate circumstances that befell upon her, she is forced to present herself as a boy in order to find a new life elsewhere, all the way to California where it was rumored numerous amounts of gold were found. And I don’t blame her at all for wanting to take this direction, especially during a time when bandits and thieves prey on lonely travelers. Women back then weren’t taken seriously when it came to business, either, so she had to disguise herself and take on a new identity in order to be able to do the things she was good at.

But even though her hands are calloused with the hard work she’s given throughout the years, she is still a vulnerable and relatable heroine and my heart ached and felt for her for the loneliness, danger, and restlessness she felt as she traveled and look for Jefferson, her best friend, who went on to California ahead of her. I can’t imagine what I would done if I were in her own shoes. Would I endure an uncle treating me like cattle, or be in control of my own life but be in risk of other dangers? I really like that despite everything, Leah simply wants to be able to be herself – not to be seen as a useless woman good for child-bearing and washing, but simply as Leah who can do these things and still be more.

And may I remind you, this took place in 1849 in the California Gold Rush.

The only thing about this book is that 80% of it is composed of traveling, so it may be too snail-paced to other people. I mean, America is huge! People back then didn’t have airplanes and trains were just starting to be built. People traveled the old-fashioned way – by walking, horseback, or wagons. And oh, steamships and flatboats, too. Because of this, the book is largely composed of Leah and her friends trying to survive the travel to California. They encounter bandits, hordes of buffalos, sickness. They go through mountains, through long rivers that take weeks to travel, and the scorching hot desert. They meet all kinds of people along the way – suspicious ones, endearing ones, slimy ones – and it’s all just so mesmerizing.

Yes, the pace is slow, but I loved every page, every second of it. Leah is an amazing, rootable character who is strong and full of life and resolve. I love how she took her life in her own hands and proved how people’s impression of her were wrong again and again. I love how even though certain individuals were demotivating her, even though she made fatal mistakes here and there, she never gave up and always, always, stood up again.

The only thing that I wasn’t really feeling here was the romance. It didn’t really feel genuine to me, although that may be because Jefferson was never a key character to Leah’s development and well-being. He was more behind the scenes most of the time and I guess that’s why I just couldn’t connect with him, and thus, couldn’t back their feelings for each other. But, hey, having read Carson’s previous series before, this may change.

All in all, this book is insanely good. Don’t mind the slow pace and just bask in Leah’s character and character development, and the relationships she creates with other people who are as interesting and diverse. Trust me on this one, guys!


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