Book Review: Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

35099058Seventeen-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.

How did I not pick up that this is a circus book? I thought it was a Western. Sigh. 

There is nothing about Gunslinger Girl that makes me hate it. There’s no element that makes me want to slam my head against a wall in frustration. It’s just really, really dull. And I don’t think it’s just because this is a circus book in disguise and circus books tend not to be my thing. The characters fell flat for me, the first three-quarters of the book felt plotless, the romance lacked heat, and one of the characters fell into one of my pet peeves.

Let’s start with that pet peeve. I speak multiple languages and I can tell you that nobody peppers their speech with random words from their first language when speaking in another. Especially not obvious, simple words you would 100% know in your second language. If I’m speaking French, I’m not going to say “Salut, mon friend, ça va? Il fait vraiment cold aujourd’hui, hein?” because that’s dumb, pointless, and obnoxious. So why are authors so insistent on making their character do this? Just say he speaks with an accent! That’s all! Ugh.

Character-wise, I just didn’t click with any of the characters. There’s nothing I hated about Serendipity’s character, there just wasn’t anything about her that felt like I hadn’t seen it before. She’s a little naïve at times, gets over-attached to her boyfriend too quickly, and was occasionally annoying, but not so much that I actively disliked her.

The plot was also hard to find. As soon as Serendipity arrives in Cessation, it vanishes. There’s something-something earning a place in the Theatre, something-something politics, but, really, they’re short vignettes of Serendipity just going about her life and trying to figure out if/why the guy she likes doesn’t like her back. Part of it could just be that I am not one for the circus-like setting or plots that revolve around earning a place in the show, but I think that anything done well enough can overcome my initial preferences, and Gunslinger Girl just didn’t have enough, plot-wise, to keep me hooked.

And that would be fine if I cared about the romance. But, like most things in this book, I just don’t. From the moment Max showed up, I knew he was the romantic interest. But, try as I might, I just didn’t feel a spark between him and Serendipity. Their whole romance felt very predictable, very much like something I’d seen before, and I wasn’t invested.

And that’s basically how most of this book went. Nothing was blatantly terrible, but I kept wanting to DNF. Nothing caught me, nothing jumped out. Everything felt like a rehash of something I’d seen before, but better, and the plot oscillated between hard-to-find and non existant. Maybe this will be more your speed if you are into circus or show centred stories, but, for me, this gunslinger girl really missed the mark.

Verdict: Skip it

Have you read any proper YA westerns? Do you have any pet peeves about how books portray multilingual people? And how do you feel about circus books?

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

  1. Pingback: March Wrap-Up | Death By A Thousand Paper Cuts

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