This one is definitely a wild ride. OH HAR HAR. See what I did there? Did you? DID YOU? (Sorry.) I couldn’t resist.
For me, this is one of those “good but not great” books. And though I passionately hate saying this because I don’t believe books should ever be divided by gender: it felt like a “boy book”. There is a grand total of ONE girl. The premise features alienish motorbikes in a death-defying-race. Total action book. And while it was dusty and gritty and bloody…it really didn’t do anything for me.
So let’s talk about these motorbikes, okay?! Um, sorry, BYKES. (I always cringe at normal words spelt with Ys. It isn’t cool, folks. It’s just weird.) It took me a while to figure out what’s really going down with them: but apparently they’re like motorbikes, but at the same time they’re sort of “alive”. So you bond with your byke. You ride your byke. You love your byke. You probably even marry your byke. And it loves you.
I’m sure that would appeal to some people who really like motorbikes, but pretty much not me.
Then there’s a race! YAY. It reminded me of the style of race in Fire & Flood….survival with a dystopic vibe. You ride hard, everything tries to eat your face off, and in the end you get The Cool Thing. Apparently, in Stone Rider, the goal is Sky-Base. What is Sky-Base, you ask? NOT A CLUE. I assume it’s like The Nice World Where The Rich People Live. This is an issue for me, though! We have characters nearly killing themselves to get somewhere, but WHY? The world building seriously lacked.
But the visuals are dustily fantastic. There’s a desert and cutthroat vibe, with the humans being mean, lean, fighting machines, and everyone is tattooed, bald and kickbutt — totally awesome. But I needed to know what kind of world it was. Dystopian? Or is it sci-fi? What are the rules of the world? How did this world happen? WHAT IS THE POINT OF THE WORLD?
All I see is hardcore bikies* doing their hardcore bikie thing.
* In Australia we say “bikies” because we shorten all the things. But this is like saying “Biker Gangs”.
BUT PUTTERING ON. What did I think of the characters? It’s narrated by Adam Stone. He’s the tough, orphan kid who really has a heart of play-dough. Adorable sweetie. He’s 15. Also Adam has some form of epilepsy. That put a very intense spin on things!
He teams up with this ghostly, mysterious hardcore kid called Kane and then eventually — through doing purely NOTHING — wins the attentions of Sadie, the only girl in the entire universe. Apparently. I’m probably exaggerating but seriously. Where are the women???! I liked Sadie because she was in no way separated from the dudes. She had short hair, scars, was a mechanic, and punched people with fiery fierceness.
It’s a gritty action-adventure, which I have to admit is COOL, despite me feeling emotionally uninvolved. I also couldn’t get over the weirdness of the bykes. Clearly I need converting but — motorbikes that become one with you?! I cannot. Dystopian bikie gangs isn’t my thing. BUT REGARDLESS. Blood flows! Bones break! The characters get pummelled and no one is coddled! The race is entirely tense. Basically if you like gutsy adventures and people getting their heads punched, try it.
THANK YOU PENGUIN AUSTRALIA FOR THE REVIEW-COPY. Stone Rider by David Hofmeyr was published June, 2015.
In 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.