Rough Animals by Rae DelBianco: a rural thiller perfect for Breaking Bad fans

Summary

Breaking Bad meets No Country for Old Men… Ever since their father’s untimely death five years before, Wyatt Smith and his inseparably close twin sister, Lucy, have scraped by alone on their family’s isolated ranch in Box Elder County, Utah. That is until one morning when, just after spotting one of their steers lying dead in the field, Wyatt is hit in the arm by a hail of gunfire that takes four more cattle with it. The shooter: a fever-eyed, fearsome girl-child with a TEC-9 in her left hand and a worn shotgun in her right. They hold the girl captive, but she breaks loose overnight and heads south into the desert. With the dawning realization that the loss of cattle will mean the certain loss of the ranch, Wyatt feels he has no choice but to go after her and somehow find restitution for what’s been lost.

Wyatt’s decision sets him on an epic twelve-day odyssey through a nightmarish underworld he only half understands; a world that pitches him not only against the primordial ways of men and the beautiful yet brutally unforgiving landscape, but also against himself. As he winds his way down from the mountains of Box Elder to the mesas of Monument Valley and back, Wyatt is forced to look for the first time at who he is and what he’s capable of, and how those hard truths set him irrevocably apart from the one person he’s ever really known and loved. Steeped in a mythic, wildly alive language of its own, and gripping from the first gunshot to the last, Rough Animals is a tour de force from a powerful new voice.

Taken from the publisher’s website: https://www.skyhorsepublishing.com

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Why should you read this book?

Rough Animals by Rae DelBianco was considered one of The 25 Best Thriller Books of the Summer by the New York Post. This is one of those books that takes a while to process. I have mixed feelings about it but it’s an unusual book. And that is good. That is great!

This book has been described as a rural thriller perfect for Breaking Bad fans! Rough Animals tells the story of Wyatt and his twin sister, Lucy. After being shot and seeing his cattle get killed by a girl, Wyatt decides to hold the shooter captive in his ranch. But the girl disappears over night. Wyatt decides to embark on an odyssey, searching for her, where he’ll discover himself.

Why did I like this book? Although this raw, dry and harsh rural world is not my favorite setting, DelBianco made me feel like I was there. She built a consistent and visceral violent world. I also loved that the author didn’t portray the twin’s relationship in a traditional way. They have a very unique (sometimes it seems even incestuous) bond. Lastly, I really enjoyed how life and death – Eros and Thanatos – are everywhere!

What didn’t I like? Somehow I could never feel connected to this plot and to the characters. I realized it was because of the writing. DelBianco has a very particular style and I think it didn’t work for me. She uses lots of pleonasms and her writing is too experimental which makes it hard to follow.

In spite of this, I think DelBianco is a very talented and promising writer, and she definitely built here a singular universe ruled by violence. There were some fantastic quotes too.

I’d like to thank SkyHorse Publishing for the free copy. You can buy it here.

Book Details (my edition):

Publisher: SkyHorse Publishing
Published on: June 2018
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Price: $24.99

Captura de ecrã 2017-10-24, às 15.45.06

 

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