Monday, February 29, 2016

Breaking Wild

I really like to read about far away places and stories set in the distant past, but sometimes it's fun to read about the here and now.  I heard about Breaking Wild, Diane Les Becquet's debut novel earlier this year, and immediately wanted to read it because it is set in Colorado and is a thriller of sorts.

I enjoyed it and read it on both legs of a trip to New York over the weekend.  I ended up seeing it as a cross between The Girl on the Train and 127 Hours.  It is another one of those alternating protagonists novels--this time we get the third-person narration of Amy Rae's story, a reckless young mother who gets lost on a hunting trip in northwest Colorado, and first-person narration of Pru's story, the single mom who is part of the search and rescue team that tries to find Amy Rae.  I'm not entirely sure why one was first person and the other was third, but it worked and helped keep the two stories straight in my head.

While it has a high tension quotient--will Amy Rae survive the bear, the cougar, the freezing temperatures, the injuries, the isolation, and her own recklessness?  I also really liked how the author told the back stories of both Amy Rae and Pru--they have a lot of similarities. Both are comfortable roughing it in the Colorado mountains, both are committed to their children, but they come at life and its responsibilities completely differently.  Both have to decide to live and how.

With regards to 127 Hours, much as I disliked the author of that book--his recklessness also took a heavy toll on the people he said he loved--I found Breaking Wild to be as fascinating as 127 Hours just to read about how people can survive in absolutely horrible situations.  The will to live is a powerful force and we can endure more than is conceivable given some knowledge, some tools, and sheer grit.

I really enjoyed the book--the pacing was good, the writing was pretty good (although I confess that early on I struggled with the author's love of similes--it's usually sufficient to say that the sky is blue, it doesn't need to be compared to something else, although Colorado blue skies are breathtaking!), the story was good, and the characters were interesting, flawed, and worth rooting for although Amy Rae is hard to like for the most part.  But, she was a good counterpoint to Pru and her saintliness.

This was a nice break from the classics that I've been reading lately and it was fun to read about places I know very well...Boulder, Golden, the Western Slope, and the Colorado Rockies.


  1. I'm glad to know this book is a good read; I have it on my list and hope to check it out of the library within the next few weeks. (I'm a sucker for survival stories.) Thanks for the review! :)

  2. Survival stories can be so engaging.

    I agree that those who are reckless with their own safety, also show a disregard for others.

  3. Sounds like a good thriller/survival story. Interesting that one part is in first person and one in the third person. It's nice when a story is told from one's home state!

  4. Sounded better the further I got into your review - from possibly too similar thriller to something 'fuller', if that makes sense. I've wondered about the 1st/3rd person choices, too - perhaps it mixes things up for the writer or they want to choose who we'll likely prefer?

  5. This sounds intriguing and like something that my book club would like to read. Great review!