Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Helen Rawlings reviews 'The Revenant' by Michael Punke


After several months of assignment writing and exam revision, summer is finally upon us (pardon the rain) with a much deserved break for all. Most excitingly, this has given me time to get round to some summer reading – for pure unadulterated pleasure. My first choice has been Michael Punke’s 2002 novel The Revenant, which is loosely based upon real life events. In all honesty, I chose this book because of the hype surrounding Hollywood’s film adaptation that recently landed Leonardo Di Caprio his long-awaited Oscar. I digress; basically, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and what better way than to read the book?

Cast back to 1823 American mountain terrain: the dramatic setting in which fur hunter Hugh Glass pursues his ultimate quest for revenge. Mauled almost to death by a grizzly bear (some scenes are pretty gruesome so I would not recommend reading after a big lunch!) Glass is left for dead by his comrades from 'The Rocky Mountain Fur Company'. Two of these comrades steal his gun, which we later discover he really, really wants back. Overall, this was an enjoyable read – it was fascinating to learn about these frontiersmen in the early 1800s. The Revenant is a page turner and Punke effectively builds up tension as Glass battles a long and bloody road to revenge.

A series of dramas and trials face Glass as he battles native Indians and savage wildlife in his adventure of survival and bravery. I would definitely recommend this book – the historical aspects are interesting and there is lots of other reading on Glass and the frontiersman. For me, only one thing was wrong with the book – the ending. I don’t know what I was expecting exactly, but the act of revenge itself in comparison to the build-up felt slightly rushed and inconclusive. Regardless, this is a well-written book and an entertaining read.  I would be interested to see the movie now, and how Hollywood has destroyed it… Cynical, me?

Happy reading everyone.

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