Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
With a thrilling pace and a clearly sinister villain looming for more than 90% of the novel, Marcus Sedgwick's Revolver flat out knocked me out. I loved it--it is Jaws in a cowboy hat. Built around the Alaskan Gold Rush, any reluctant reader can't help but fall for this story of fourteen-year-old Sig squaring off against a seething old-fashioned brute--Gunther Wolff. Revolver reads like the next great film: visual, gripping, and harsh. If Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, and Martin Scorsese collaborated on a story in early 1970s...this is what would hit the page.
While Gunther Wolff plays the Clint Eastwood-esque stranger who came to town to seize any gold Sig's father may have on the property or in the bank, there is an undeniably galvanizing object which takes center stage and never leaves it: the Colt 45 revolver.
Each character has one. Sig's father's revolver is in a closet, and Wolff's is either gleaming menacingly from his hip, or pointed squarely at Sig.
The core of the story revolves around the idea that Gunther Wolff made a deal with Sig's father, Einar, over a decade ago. The deal was for a 50/50 split of some gold Wolff assumed Einar had in his possession. To protect his family, Einar made the deal...and then ran with his family. For ten years Gunther Wolff tracked them and now he has come to stake his claim.
Einar is indeed home when Wolff comes calling--he is dead on the kitchen table. That leaves the business to be done falls upon Sig, and Wolff has one decision to make: which child of Einar's does he shoot to force the other to tell him where the gold is.
Gold which they knew nothing about...having lived in poverty their entire life.
The book also suits any writer trying to piece together a thriller for the YA audience. It follows all of the advice I have been reading from agents, editors, and authors. For instance...if there is a gun in a story make it work. Take it out of the holster. Point it at somebody! Fire it! If there is a villain in the story, put him into action...he/she does you no good on the sidelines. Revolver is that great combination of gun and villain and the seemingly outmatched adolescent.
Absolutely go out and grab a copy and stick it on your desk at school--kids will read it, they will think it is thrilling and fun, and the best part is I believe it will make them want to read something else. This is a book to celebrate all books. And if you have a son at home, buy it, turn off the XBox and stick it in front of him.
It is my new favorite YA novel of the past year.
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