I went in to this book really hoping to like it because, well, I really like author Eric Pierpoint as an actor. But I didn’t.
I love books for kids and I often feel like I’m one of the last readers of western fiction, so this tale of a young boy and his sister, set in the 1800’s in the Western part of the country should have been right up my alley.
Caleb O’Toole and his sisters must high-tail it out of town after their mother dies from cholera. There are bandits raiding all the neighboring homes and the O’Toole’s aren’t able to confront these raiders on their own. Or are they?
On their own, with no money and nowhere to go, Caleb and his sisters face off against criminals, disease, weather, and of course Indians. It would be tempting to give up in the face of such adversity, but Caleb’s mother’s last words were for him to stay strong and so he persists.
There is plenty of action. Lots and lots of gunfights (it’s the old west, after all) and the book is almost written in serial form with the O’Toole’s getting out of one scrap and right into another. And still…
…and still I was bored.
Just because a book has a lot of action written into it doesn’t mean it is exciting or reads full of fury and action. Perhaps precisely because there is so much action written in to this story, it reads at one constant level. There just is no appropriate book pacing to allow the reader to get in to the story, build up to the action, and then come down from the action.
There also seems to be no real focus. It’s a ‘wandering’ story. From the moment Caleb’s mother dies, the kids are wandering from adventure to adventure but going nowhere. Again…part of that serial feel – “stay tuned for the next chapter…!”
I wish I could have liked this more. Being a fan of westerns and YA I haven’t read a good book in the combined genres since Bruce Coville’s Fortune’s Journey.
Looking for a good book? The Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole is a YA western by Eric Pierpoint that is full of action but the pacing is too even to allow the action to feel thrilling.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole
author: Eric Pierpoint
publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
paperback, 293 pages