18651980Author: Smith Henderson

Number of Pages: 480

Publisher: Ecco

Release Date: May 27, 2014

“In this shattering and iconic American novel, PEN prize-winning writer, Smith Henderson explores the complexities of freedom, community, grace, suspicion and anarchy, brilliantly depicting our nation’s disquieting and violent contradictions.

After trying to help Benjamin Pearl, an undernourished, nearly feral eleven-year-old boy living in the Montana wilderness, social worker Pete Snow comes face to face with the boy’s profoundly disturbed father, Jeremiah. With courage and caution, Pete slowly earns a measure of trust from this paranoid survivalist itching for a final conflict that will signal the coming End Times.

But as Pete’s own family spins out of control, Pearl’s activities spark the full-blown interest of the F.B.I., putting Pete at the center of a massive manhunt from which no one will emerge unscathed.”


I’m going to be honest here: I originally picked this book up because I loved the cover design. My eye always gravitates toward simple covers, and this one was no exception. The contrast between the pale yellow letters and the read background is great, and I love how the text is the main focus.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm for this novel wanes from there.

I wanted to like this novel- I really did. I thought the premise was very interesting and I was excited to see how the multiple plot lines intertwined throughout the story. The setting itself was probably my favorite part of this novel- how often do you read a book set in 1980s Montana? I’ve never come across one besides this, and I wanted to see why the author chose such a specific time and place to act as a backdrop for the story.

The major weakness of this novel was not in the ideas behind it, but in its execution. I thought that the writing was confusing, and I frequently found myself wondering if I had missed something or even skipped over a page or two. Instead of adding interest and depth to the story, the different plot lines seemed to get in the way of any development or progression in the book. The pace was incredibly slow and most of the action that happened was quite dull. It was not engaging or entertaining, and I basically had to force myself to read a large part of the book. Any hope of redemption for this novel was lost in its unsatisfying ending.

Overall, I did not enjoy this book. I definitely think it had some potential, but I did not care for the author’s writing style and how he chose to pace out the plot. I believe that this is Smith Henderson’s debut novel, and I don’t plan on reading any books he writes in the future.

My Rating: :0) :0) 2 out of 5 smileys.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: No, personally I would not. However, perhaps someone would enjoy it more if they found a greater interest in the characters themselves instead of the plot.

Have you ever read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!




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