Narrator: Christie Moreau
Published on 2 January 2018
Genres: Dystopian, Historical, United States, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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James Patterson presents a bold new heroine—a cross between Katniss Everdeen and Annie Oakley: Serendipity Jones, the fastest sharpshooter in tomorrow's West.
Seventeen-year-old Serendipity "Pity" Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She's been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great....
In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity's struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.
I borrowed this audiobook from my library, and it took me a while to do so because from the cover, title, and blurb (which I probably didn’t read all the way through or comprehend when it said Second Civil War), I was under the impression this was a genuine historical fiction book about a Wild West gunslinger who becomes famous as part of a theatrical side show.
It turns out that this book is only partly Wild West… It’s actually some kind of alternate history/futuristic dystopian where the Confederates won a second civil war. Some people, like out Serendipity (‘Pity’ to her friends) still live on frontier-inspired military bases, but the cities have advanced technology.
So our Pity, the novel’s heroine, is supposed to be this perfect-aim gunslinger, and she and her friend run away from this horrible base where her abusive father is going to sell her off to be a breeding wife to some other compound.
But things get sticky when the girls are attacked and Pity freezes, and then spends the rest of the novel beating herself up for not doing the one thing she should have done, utterly consumed with guilt that I just couldn’t forgive her for.
Pity is taken to a city modelled on Las Vegas and ends up being cast in a variety show, meeting other actors, being asked to compromise her morals in more ways than one.
Overall, I did enjoy this book, except for Pity’s pity party over her inaction that led to tragedy. I couldn’t even excuse her for continuing to beat herself up about it: it was her fault, if she’d done something it wouldn’t have happened, and I just couldn’t forgive her for that, especially since she was armed and knew she had perfect aim. She vacillated between this kick-ass, take-no-prisoners sharpshooter and a helpless damsel, which I found somewhat frustrating. I’m not expecting her to be kick-ass all the time from the get-go – but I didn’t particularly like her character arc because it flopped around so much.
The other characters were great: I loved the lady boss and her employees who were quite diverse, the villain was really well written though not completely unexpected, and the love interests were a bit different to the regular YA love interests: one was a prostitute she dropped like a hot potato, and the other a tortured artist set builder (and costumer which is a completely different skill set and just seemed to be an excuse for getting him close to Pity with costume fittings) with a secret who wasn’t interested in Pity for the longest time, so it felt a bit underdeveloped.
I really did enjoy seeing Pity gain her independence, and it was fun to live in luxury for a while. The writing was decent and engaging, and the audiobook narrator was decent, though she didn’t change her voice for other characters.
I found this book to be a somewhat interesting take on the Wild West futuristic dystopian and the only characters who let it down were Pity and her boyfriend. I wasn’t completely enthralled but it wasn’t terrible. It was just in the middle, hence my 3 star rating.