I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Ride On by Gwen Cole
Release date: May 22nd, 2018
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Young adult, dystopian
The law can’t help her. But one outlaw can.
In the near post-apocalyptic future, the skies are always gray and people are constantly searching for the sun. For teenage outlaw Seph, it’s the only world he’s ever known. With his horse, his favorite pistol, and his knowledge for survival passed down from his dead father, Seph knows it’s safer to be alone. But after a run-in with a local gang that call themselves the Lawmen, and having been wrongly accused of murder, Seph teams up with Avery—a determined girl whose twin brother has been taken by the same gang.
After living in a small, rundown town her whole life, Avery knows nothing of the Wild—the lands controlled by nobody where travel is risky. With Seph’s help, they track down her brother but quickly find the tables have turned and they are now the ones being hunted. With rumors of mysterious dangers to the south and a safe sanctuary to the west, they’ve only got one option, but getting there won’t be easy with the Lawmen on their trail. The only thing that matters in the Wild is how fast your trigger hand is, but Seph doesn’t know if his will be fast enough to save them all.
I thoroughly enjoyed Gwen Cole’s debut novel, Cold Summer, and couldn’t wait to start this one. I nearly missed it on NetGalley and consider myself quite lucky to have been able to read it early. This is a book that you really need to read! It was full of surprises, action and drama.
I really didn’t know what to expect when I went into it. The cover isn’t that imaginative (this book deserves better) made me think it would be a straight up Western (no, I didn’t read the description which clearly stated that it was based in a “near post-apocalyptic future”). However, the book was so much more as it was a wonderful blend of the two genres…dark, moody and dangerous. I was automatically hooked from the first page. I particularly enjoyed the gunfights (you’ll be unable to stop reading) and how the chapters alternated between characters, providing a unique glimpse into Cole’s dystopian world.
What I loved most were the characters, something I think Cole does very well. They were so real and I felt deeply connected with the book’s leads, Steph and Avery. Here, like in her debut, Cole is able to craft complex characters. Nothing is straightforward, black or white. The characters have to make difficult choices and are often haunted by the things that they have done. Oh, and there is a romance, but it was honestly adorable. A nice little addition that didn’t take over the entire story. It felt organic and natural, not forced and instant like so many romances seem to be in YA.
Another standout aspect of Ride On was the setting. The world was slowly revealed as the book progressed and not fully laid out in the first chapter. Nothing was just given away and there certainly were no information dumps. Like the characters, everything felt like it was explained at the right time. The book wonderfully walked the fine line between descriptive passages and oversharing. As a result, the world truly came to life for me. I could see myself riding a horse in a grey and dusty world or opposing riders chasing after me through a dilapidated town made out of scrap metal and mismatched pieces of wood. My imagination ran wild with this story and I absolutely enjoyed every second of it!
Cole has honestly become one of my favourite new authors. I can’t wait to see what she releases next!
About the Author
Gwen Cole grew up in upstate New York and then moved to Virginia where she did not graduate college. Instead she played bass guitar in a hardcore band and later married the lead guitarist. She enjoys large jigsaw puzzles, playing Xbox and softball, and watching movies. Gwen now lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and very large dog, where she longs to live in the country again.