Title: The Revenant
Author: Michael Punke
Publication: January 2015Pages: 262
It’s 1823 and Hugh Glass is living in the brutality of the American West along with his other companions of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. He’s highly regarded as an expert frontiersman and tracker, but when he’s mauled by a particularly angry bear, he finds himself scarred and struggling to survive. Two men are left behind to take care of Glass’s body after he dies, but Fitzgerald convinces his nineteen year old companion to leave Glass behind without any survival necessities in case he happened to survive. In spite of the odds, Glass wills himself to survive in the harsh landscape in order to exact revenge on those who left him behind.
I was surprised to learn at the end of the book that Revenant was based on a real life trapper named Hugh Glass. This man really was mauled by a bear and really was left behind by two men who were chosen to watch over and take care of his body when he died. From what I read in the author’s note, Glass confronted the nineteen year old and resolved their differences, but no one knows what happened to Fitzgerald. The only known thing about Fitzgerald was that he deserted the fur company in favor of joining the regiment. This lessons my disappointment in the ending because whether in life or fiction, some things aren’t resolved in neat little packages.
My favorite part of the book was the descriptions of nature. I love being immersed in little pockets of wilderness from time to time and to immerse myself in a landscape that I’ve never visited or even comprehend due to the time period. I can get the sense of how unforgiving the West is, even to people with modern conveniences. How many people can survive a bear attack and find the will to finish what’s been started?
My least favorite part about the book is it’s transitions. It seems like we just settle in with one of the characters and then we’re in the next scene with someone else. I long for more fluidity and comprehension between the scenes. There are some scenes that didn’t seem to fit in well with what Punke had for the rest of the book and to me that seemed a little choppy.
I generally don’t read a lot of books about the West due to preference, but this book was realistic and the real life characters made it more enjoyable. Some parts are slow, but that is made up for the vivid scenes of the background.
I rate this book 3/5.