Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction (?)
Maturity Level: 4
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Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great….
In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.
I’m sorry to say Gunslinger Girl did not live up to my expectations. It was a fun enough book, but it failed to deliver on being a high-octane Western adventure, and there wasn’t anything to make it stand out in the noise of YA adventure novels.
Let’s start with our heroine, Serendipity Jones. Great name. I kind of hate that she went by Pity, but whatever, not the point. The problem with Pity was that she was completely lacking in character. You couldn’t even call her a Mary Sou, and honestly a Mary Sou would have been more interesting than Pity. I just wanted more sass, more anger, more grit, more SOMETHING.
The setting. I was sooooo pumped to read a Wild West YA, and got even more excited a few pages in when I realized this was a dystopian Western. HELLS YES! Unfortunately, only the first two or three chapters have that Wild West feel. After a disastrous first few chapters, Pity is rescued and taken to (and I’ll quote from the blurb here) “the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city”. Okay, so essentially you’ve got The Capitol from The Hunger Games, only lawless. Except … not. Like, there was nothing seedy or dark or twisted. It was just lavish luxury. The setting went from a Wild West dystopia to a Panem-style circus in a heartbeat. And I guess the circus thing could have been cool … if I hadn’t already read that same story half a million times.
The other problem with the setting was that it took all stakes out of the story. The feel that Pity is fighting for her life just vanishes. It all becomes so frivolous. Instead of shooting at bandits or dirty cops or something, Pity is shooting at glass bulbs in a theater. Again, it was fun enough, but just nothing new or special.
Plot-wise there is nothing unique. It felt carbon-copied from Shadow and Bone, if I’m being completely honest.
I also never really connected to the romance. Probably because both characters were so bland. (Sorry, giving somebody piercings and dyed spiky hair doesn’t make them automatically intriguing.) It was a nice romance, appropriately dreamy without going overboard, but a little forced.
Now, I don’t want y’all to think I hated it, because I didn’t. Three stars is a good rating, it means I liked the book. It just didn’t live up to the hype. SO MUCH HYPE. It was fun, but didn’t deliver on the one thing I really really really REALLY wanted to read: an action-packed, smart-mouthed Western.