The musings of a girl who's a bit too eager to talk about anything and everything.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Purgatory Road

11:51 AM Posted by Allie Wood , , , No comments
Well, hello there.

I'm currently extremely bored on watch and just finished a book the other day that I really didn't care for and just wanted to talk about it. So, I guess this will be my first book review on here. Maybe I'll make it a habit. Who knows? Either way, let's get started.

So, I read Purgatory Road by Samuel Parker a couple days ago.

It definitely was not my favorite.

Now, don't get me wrong. He's not a bad author. This book has a 3.80 average rating on Goodreads, which means a lot of people like him and his writing. I'm just not a huge fan of this particular book. This is his debut novel, so I'm not going to be judging him too much. Writing a novel is hard. I haven't even finished any of mine and he's been published, so obviously, he's definitely doing something right. I'm just going to be talking about why I wasn't a huge fan of this particular novel.

All of this is personal opinion. It's not meant to chastise the author in any fashion and it's also not meant to reflect anyone else's view on the novel aside from my own.

As an introduction to the book, I'll just put the blurb here to give a little insight into the novel. Also, I WILL be posting some spoilers, so if you actually want to read this novel, I would recommend not reading past the blurb below. (I'll put some asterisks below it so you know when to hit the little X button on your tab. I will also put some more asterisks at the end, after all my spoilers, if you want to read my conclusion.)

"When a day trip out of Las Vegas with his wife takes a turn for the worse, Jack is sure he has the ability to get them home. But he has driven into something far beyond reason.

Rescue comes in the form of a desert hermit, but hope fades as the couple comes to realize that the nomad has no intention of letting them leave. A chance encounter with a kidnapped runaway and her crazed abductor leads them all farther into the wilderness--and closer to the cold brutality that isolation brings.

At the edge of his sanity, Jack begins to learn that playing by another's rules may be the only way to survive.

In a voice that is as hypnotizing as a desert mirage, debut novelist Samuel Parker entices you down a treacherous road, where the forces of good and evil are as crushing as the Mojave heat."

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Okay, to start out, looking back at this blurb that first got me really interested in reading this book, it honestly makes it seem like the story is going to be so much different. It makes it seem like the desert hermit is evil (not true) and that the kidnapped runaway is more pertinent to the story than she actually is. (She's honestly kind of just there in the story. She's considered a main character, but almost isn't treated as one. Her story becomes a mere side note.)

As for the story overall, I've got a few things to say.

The story itself starts of fairly interesting, then it just becomes slow and absolutely drags on. Most of the novel is just Jack, Laura, and Boots sitting around in Boots' trailer. There's only so many times I can read about someone getting themselves a glass of cold water from the pump before my eyes start drooping.  It was very lack luster for adventure. Sure, Jack almost dies from dehydration twice, and there's the fight scene at the end between Boots and Seth (which makes absolutely no sense,) and then there's a bunch of scenes with a spider than Seth apparently controls (also with no explanation) so there's adventure, I guess, but it all seems quite forced. There's absolutely no backstory for any of the characters. (Backstories make or break characters for me, and this broke it.)

The whole thing is honestly more confusing than it should be. You're supposed to end the book with less questions than when you started, not with more. I'm so full of questions that I desperately wanted answers for. It's really extremely frustrating.

Also, apparently, by reading other reviews of this book, I learned that Boots and Seth are supposed to be a sort of metaphor for God and the Devil, but ultimately, I think that area of their characters fell pretty short. Due to the fact that nothing was explained about them or their feud, or their motivations behind anything, the religious comparison just wasn't there. I can sort of where Boots could be considered being reminiscent of being God where he helps out these people in trouble as much as he can, but ultimately they have to save themselves, but again, it just falls flat. Seth has almost no comparison to Satan at all. Yeah, sure, he's evil and apparently has corrupted people into his evil ways in the past, but he doesn't have anything truly relating him to the concept of the Devil. Anyone who is evil can get into others' lives and teach them their ideology. Seth just seems to lack the true version of evil that the Devil is typically written to reflect. He almost seems like a bored criminal on house arrest, stuck in the desert outside of Las Vegas, doing whatever he can to pass the time than an omnipotent being keen on destroying the world. Also, Seth and Boots seem to have some sort of "deal" where Seth can do whatever he wants until Boots feels like he's overstepped his bounds. That doesn't seem like a good God/Satan comparison to me, because in almost every religion, God doesn't make deals with the Devil. But, that's just me. I could be wrong.

Anyway, I guess the next thing I would like to do is to talk about the characters. I haven't read a ton of book reviews with character breakdowns, but I'm going to do it anyway. These characters just seem so typical to me. It's like they've all been written before, just with different names, and slightly different settings. They're all just too two-dimensional to me.


Laura is one of the main characters. She's Jack's wife. She spends most of the novel in a mental battle with herself over if she doesn't care what happens to her husband who never considers anyone other than himself or if she should be overly emotional and caring for him. She spends so much time complaining about the distance in their marriage, and how she has had to put aside her aspirations for him, and how Jack cares about no one but himself. She complains some more that she has been the passive wife for all these years, yet, only stands up for herself (if sarcastic comments even count as attempting to stand up foe herself) maybe two or three times at most. She talks about how she wants the "old Jack" back and how she naively thought the vacation to Las Vegas would somehow miraculously bring them closer together and fix their dying relationship. But, despite all her reservations with the relationship, she continuously runs back to him anytime he shows her any ounce of attention, and stays with him throughout the end of the book. It was honestly pretty boring to see and be able to tell that no matter what happened, she was going to stay with him.


I hate Jack, honestly. I normally don't flat out hate characters. I can usually find some ounce of a redeeming quality to change my view of a character from hatred to mere dislike, but Jack was ridiculous. He is so self-righteous. He yells at, gets annoyed by, and hates the person who SAVED HIM FROM DYING even though it was all Jack's fault that he drove them off into the desert and almost killed them both due to heat stroke and dehydration. He then becomes bitter, claiming Laura was going to hold the fact that he almost killed both of them for the rest of their lives. Um, that's the least you would deserve for almost being the cause of your wife's death, but yeah, go ahead and blame her for being a little upset about the fact that she ALMOST DIED BECAUSE OF YOU. He only thinks about what's best for him, never considering how his actions affect others. He literally leaves his wife in a trailer house with the "desert nomad," secretly in the middle of the night. because he thinks he knows best. I mean, he crawled out a window to do it, for heavens sake. He only goes back to save his wife that he claims to "love" only because Boots, the desert nomad, practically forces him to. There's nothing honorable or sweet about that. Of course, afterwards, he realizes the error of his ways and blah blah blah. He's just a terrible person.


Boots is probably the only character I like and that's honestly because he doesn't put up with Jack's bull crap attitude. I honestly cheered a little bit when Boots kicks Jack in the stomach for being an idiot. Boots is a mysterious old desert hermit that has an affinity for chewing tobacco. He lives in a trailer in the middle of nowhere, that also happens to be next to a small cemetery. (Ooooh, so mysterious and weird.) He also apparently only owns shirts with pearl buttons because it's mentioned probably about twenty separate times. You don't really find out anything about Boots other than that he moved out into the desert because he didn't care for society very much. Boots always seems to show up at just the right time to save someone, which is just a bit too cliché for me. Sometimes, I like to see the hero of the story not being right on time to be the hero of the hour. It gets old when you know that the person struggling is inevitably going to get rescued. You lose the suspense.


Colten is probably one of the least thought out villains I've ever read. He's greasy and has a temper. That's really all you get to know about him. You don't know why he likes killing. You don't know how many people he has killed. You don't know how he met the apparent overall villain named Seth. Nothing. He only officially kills two people in the novel. One is a random biker passing through the outskirts of Las Vegas, simply because he's pissed of that the runaway girl got away. The other is the cheery little police girl because she put together the pieces of who killed the random biker because she pulled him over for speeding. He's super impulsive and gets mad at everything. He didn't scare me or add to the intensity factor of the book at all. To me, he was just kind of an annoying fly that keeps buzzing around everything with no true purpose.


The story starts out talking about Molly. She's a seventeen-year-old, running away from overbearing parents, just like almost every other seventeen-year-old runaway, it seems. She's on her way to good old Los Angeles, also like every other teenage runaway does. She gets coerced by Colten in a diner, thinking he's going to drive her to a bus stop, (yeah, right, sure he is.) There's a couple scenes in the cave where she's being kept that she has a realization that she just wants to go home. Boots ends up getting her out of the cave and to his trailer with Laura and Jack. She talks to Laura once about her home and why she ran away. She ends up captured in the cave again later and reverts to being in a catatonic state immediately even though an hour before, she seemed super keen on fighting off Colten with Laura, but whatever. She ends up going back home to her parents, having a big come-to-Jesus moment, and all is well


Seth is just a really confusing character. I don't know what his point is. He's also odd because sometimes he's visible to all the characters, other times, only Colten can see and talk to him. Again, the fact that there was no explanation for who Seth was, what his powers even were, why he had them, and why he had Colten under his wing, really grated on my nerves. I'm a person who prefers having information, even if it's unnecessary, than having none at all. There's a certain point where attempting to leave out details for the mystery of the story just turns into confusion as to just what in the heck is going on, and unfortunately, this book had too much of the latter. Seth pops up at the most random times in the book, for no other reason than that he simply feels like it. Then, all of the sudden, he's got these major powers that control the "shadows" mentioned a few times throughout the book, and he has that fight scene with Boots that, again, has absolutely no explanation as to why it's happening.


Red is the epitome of a small outskirt town sheriff. He is perfectly content sitting at the police station all day, doing nothing since nothing ever happens. His wife passed away ten years before the time the novel takes place. She's only mentioned once, I'm pretty sure. He apparently used to be an alcoholic and stopped shortly after his wife died. He almost ends up drinking again due to a death of one of his employees, just like any other recovered alcoholic seems to do in entertainment media. This alcoholism is also only mentioned once, even though it seems to be such a big deal because James, the other police officer Red works with, stares ominously at a bottle of whiskey that Red pulled out, indicating James knows alcohol used to be a huge issue for Red even though it had never been mentioned before.


PJ is the little female police officer, stationed on the outskirts of Las Vegas. She works with Red and James. It's mentioned that, although they both don't say it, she brightens the days of the two other police officers from the drab days that stretch on at the police station. You learn that her parents didn't want her to be a police officer, and she didn't graduate top of her class at the police academy, but that's pretty much all you ever get to know about her. She picks up on clues quickly, taking only about forty-five seconds to realize Colten was the one who killed the out-of-towner by dragging him with chains from his truck. (But he also handed her the driver's license of the missing man, so it wasn't terribly hard to fit the puzzle pieces together.) She gets killed immediately after figuring Colten out, which causes Red to almost fall back into his drinking rut. Personally, PJ was not in the book nearly enough and too little information was given about her to make her death a big deal to me. Red takes her death super hard, but I couldn't figure that out, either, simply because the friendly relationship between the two of them wasn't explored at all, so it felt awkward that he was so revenge-driven after her killing because there was no background.


I'm honestly not sure if James even needs a mention. He's only in about three scenes for roughly thirty seconds max each time. It feels like he was only thrown in for about four sentences of dialogue that really had nothing to do with anything at all. The whole book could've done without him, really. The longest scene he's in is mostly just full of him staring apprehensively at a bottle of alcohol Red has put out on a table, apparently being wary of Red's previous alcohol problem that's apparently a huge deal but is only mentioned once in the entire novel.

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Overall, if you're looking for a solid suspense novel, I wouldn't bother reading this. There's too little information to keep up the suspense and the pace moves far too slowly for anything to really jump put at you. It's one of those books where you can guess what happens next which is the exact opposite of the point of suspense/thriller novels. Definitely read it if you just want something to pass the time or read if it you want to see what I'm talking about.

If you read it, let me know so we can compare our feelings towards the book. Maybe you'll find something I didn't pick up on that explains one of my qualms with the novel or something. I'd love to hear what you think!

I would also love to hear some constructive criticism on this book review. Like I said, it's my first one, so I'm expecting it to be rough and not-all-that great, so let me know what I could do better on next time or anything that I did well. Thanks in advance!