Publishing Info: September 22, 2015 by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 4, 2015
Related Posts: The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1)
Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.
She also has a secret.
Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.
When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.
The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.
I had heard some really good things about WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER and naturally, I was super excited to see fantasy elements in a historical fiction aspect. I always love discovering new books where genres collide and I was so excited to see magical elements in American history instead of a more high fantasy feel. When I received the audiobook for review from HarperTeen, I couldn’t resist starting right away!
WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER is essentially the Oregon Trail but in book form and with more backstory for each character. Leah Westfall embarks upon a journey to California after a traumatic incident at home in Georgia leaves her with virtually nothing left to stay for. The book definitely took on that Oregon Trail-feel for me with important points like Independence, MO and several things you might have encountered in the game while “on the road”. That’s not really the point or inspiration of the book but that really was a big feel of it for me since I’ve read very little about Pioneer times!
The hard thing for me throughout the book is that is really didn’t feel too much different than the Oregon Trail for me. There was the Gold Rush aspect which was interesting but aside from travelling from Georgia to California to go find the gold, there wasn’t too much happening (yet) with the Gold Rush. I didn’t realize at the time that this is actually the first in a series so the book actually closed off one leg of this adventure but even knowing that now, it still feels like not too much happened here. Personally, I have trouble with “journey” stories. As much as the journey itself is an adventure, it’s not enough to really hold my interest. A journey itself really isn’t enough plot for me so I just felt like there really wasn’t much going on aside from traveling.
Another big issue I had with WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER is that it was so heavily marketed as a historical fiction/fantasy blend but there really wasn’t much magic in the book at all. Leah’s abilities are introduced and lightly explored but aside from that (and being a motivator for her to leave for California), I didn’t really feel like the magic was involved much in the book at all. Again, I suppose a thing that will be explored in the rest of the series but since it didn’t grab me in the first book, it leaves me wondering if I even want to continue with the series.
The journey to California seemed to be such a big part of the book that I felt like I was just missing so much from plot, characters, and other points of action. I easily finished the audio and mostly enjoyed the book but it seemed to drag for a while when all the characters were doing was travelling and there was little to no magic to really bring that fantasy element around. WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER may just not have been the book for me and I’ll probably think on this a while before I decide if I want to continue the series or not.
I tend to be pickier with female narrators over male narrators but I actually really enjoyed this narration from Erin Mallon. I feel like she did a really good job overall with Leah/Lee’s character and that was really important to the story! The rest of the voices were good, though nothing really stood out to me a lot. I will say that she was sort of terrible with accents. Leah meets several people who have come to America from other countries and who speak different languages or are learning English and hoo boy, those accents were not good. Even when the foreign-language speaker was saying something and Erin Mallon was performing their voice… I’m passionate about languages and that was sort of my jam in school (and even after I graduated) and it was just painful to feel like she didn’t try to have any sort of accent at all with those. Overall, it was a decent audio performance. Some parts felt overdone and then over parts I was underwhelmed. Not sure I’d select another audiobook narrated by Erin Mallon after this, though.
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Leah/Lee // Character Obsessions: Escape, gold, travel, hiding.
Leah was… all right. She was strong, definitely a tough girl and I really loved her quiet strength as well as her obvious determination. I didn’t really connect with her much though. Again, could be a preference thing like how I have trouble with characters who have a one-track mind/single mission and everything else doesn’t matter. I would have really liked to get to know her more and learn more of her background to find out who she really is.
Kept Me Hooked On: American Historical Fiction. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction and it was really fun to read some more than takes place in American history! I love the Gold Rush aspect.
Left Me Wanting More: Action. Pretty much all of the action was contained within the journey to California so although it was definitely a personal preference, I really felt like there wasn’t a lot going on.
Some people really loved this one. I think I sort of missed out on this one because it was a “journey” book and that’s just not my thing. It really doesn’t hold my attention.
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(Click the cover to see my review!)