It’s true: I haven’t read that many westerns. However, since I was a HUGE fan of Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman, I was super excited for Gunslinger Girl. I haven’t seen all that many really good western style young adult novels, so when I heard of this? I couldn’t get this book in my hands soon enough!
While I thought Gunslinger Girl had a lot to offer readers, it wasn’t exactly as Western-ish as I had found myself hoping for – sure, it did have elements that followed suit for Western themed books, and I loved them, but there was also a lot of dystopian elements and a bit of a show business theme going on that I didn’t expect. While that didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book, it just seemed as though it leads readers in a different direction other than what I expected to read.
“‘Welcome, all of you, Serendipity Jones – deadliest shot in the West!'”
Serendipity Jones has had a difficult life – she lives with her father and her brothers and is expected to do all of the chores, cooking, cleaning, and mending – while dealing with an abusive father and the tragic death of her mother, which happened years prior to the current time.
When Pity takes a particularly rough beating from her father one day, she decides that she has had enough – she goes to her friend, who has been eager to get out of the small town they live in – and the two of them decide to take off for something better.
However, when tragedy strikes once more, Pity finds herself alone and not in the best of shape – until a group of travelers picks her up and takes her along with them back to their hometown. Pity struggles to become friendly with them, especially before they are willing to give her back her guns – guns that were her mother’s – and that Pity is a deadly shot with.
However, in order to stay in her new home and continue enjoying the clothes and shelter she’s been given, she will have to earn her newfound freedom by performing in the weekly show that is held – several of the residents have an interesting talent, and Pity fits right in as the deadliest shooter in the West.
While she is busy performing and learning the rules for her new town, she is also busy securing friendships with some of the others living there – including the boy who saved her originally. She starts falling for him little by little, and that’s when things start to get out of hand – Pity comes to realize that the special “finales” that sometimes occur at the ends of the shows are a bit more than she bargained for.
I really enjoyed the setting that the novel took place in – kind of like a dystopian wild West setting, although I do wish there would have been a bit more world building going on so we could have gotten a better look at the environment. Also, there wasn’t much talk about why the world was in the state it was, which I was hoping for. I love a really strong backstory in a book like this, especially when it has a bit of a dystopian feel.
The characters all have their own personalities in this book, making them easy to develop a sense of connection to.
Gunslinger Girl is a really entertaining Western adventure, complete with a badass heroine who is an expert sharpshooter. I really found myself loving Pity, and I enjoyed getting a look at her past, as well as the emotions that she expresses in the present. She isn’t the kind of main character who relies on others who defend her or come to her rescue continuously, and she knows how to handle herself. It’s great to show readers that Westerns can have female main characters who can handle themselves and shoot better than some of the boys – part of the reason I always avoided Westerns were because most of them featured male main characters, so this is nice.
This was a really entertaining book, and I thought the pacing was spot on. It wasn’t too slow and it didn’t feel rushed at all. The ending leaves some room for expansion, though, if the author chooses to go that route (I honestly don’t know if there’s going to be a sequel to this one, although it would be pretty nifty if there will be!).