William Shepard's father abuses his mother, and Will, having had enough, tries to stab his father to death. He fails to kill his father, and in consequence he is sent away to the Swope Ranch Boys' Reformatory, in Colorado's isolated harsh mountains. Mind you the time period is the 1960's. His sentence is to stay there for two years, on his first night there he learns that it will be hard surviving mentally and physically at the ranch. He finds friends, three, and learns the ways of horses while training them there. Near the end of his sentence, Will learns what truly creates fear, and what it means to survive in the woods with crazed teenage murderers running loose. And in the end he knows what death does to those you love, and that life is not worth wasting.
Immediately the author, David E. Hilton, makes the setting clear, to where you can picture what's going on in intense details.
If you asked me if the book had a tone I would tell you that no doubt it did. The tone was definitely one of sadness and darkness, in which it shows the humans will to survive.
The books main characters had foul mouths but the author showed well that they had one another's backs. The main character is Will, who is a quick learner. His friends are, Mickey, Benny, and Coop; who all were tight as spandex on a chubby person. I really believed that these characters were real and when one or two died, you felt the pain in your heart, it was as if a family member had died.
The author's voice had a great influence over the book; just the fact that he chose to make the main character, Will, reminisce his past was what made me love the book, a lot. And the detail was finite but it was there for a reason, and the word choice was amazing; it made you feel as if someone was actually telling you their life story. Something that most authors do that disappoints me is they leave me hanging unnecessarily onto what happened to the character because of their actions. David E. Hilton didn't do that, he took you to the end and told you, in the main character's point of view, exactly how Will ended up.
I believe that the authors did achieve their purpose of informing you on life's many choices and hardships that come because of them. Books in general have to have a great premise to make me cry, this one made me tear up; so that is a sign of it's greatness. The vocabulary was vulgar at times but it was not to high leveled to make the reader feel stupid.
The books strength is that it pulls you into Will's problems and hardships so that you feel like you are reading someone's diary. It's one weakness, I think, is that you might feel it was too gory, or something along those lines because of the finite detail.
I've not read other books by this author, so I cannot judge whether it is better than those or not; but, I can say that it even though it is not in the same genre as something as Harry Potter or The Hunger Games it is up to that level, maybe just a step or two below those books. I think it's genre might be adventure or historical fiction.
The book made me look at my priorities and wonder if they were silly. So I'd definitely say that this book moved me, like hundreds of feet from where I'd been previously. I adored the ending; it was what I wanted so badly for the main character, after all that he'd lost. There was not a thing that the author could've done to improve the story; because it was already good enough, at least for me.
I could say that I learned life is not a thing to take for granted, and that love is the greatest thing to have and give; along with friendship being something everyone should have.
I'd recommend this novel to anyone who loves a bite of real life, or just anyone who reads because it really can open your eyes to what the world can be like at different corners of the Earth.
I gave this book a content rating of three because it was explicit in it's word choice and of some things mentioned such as masturbation. Also the murder in this book is described in great detail.
Reviewer City, State and Country: Nampa, Idaho United States