The Revenant by Michael Punke

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RATING: 3/5

BLURB: “Hugh Glass isn’t afraid to die. He’s done it once already. When expert tracker Glass is viciously mauled by a bear, death seems inevitable. The two men ordered to remain with him flee, stripping him of his rifle and hatchet and leaving him to die alone. But soon a grim, horrible scarred figure is seen wandering, asking after two men, one with a gun that seems too good for him…”

REVIEW: Now in reviewing this book, take note, because I am about to say two things that I very rarely, if ever, say. First of all, I watched the recently released film version of The Revenant before I read the book – something I generally try to avoid doing. Secondly – and this is something I think I have only ever said once before – I felt that the film was significantly better than the book. This does not mean, however, that Punke does not present a gripping, absorbing and often terrifying retelling of the true story of Hugh Glass, a fur trapper who, after being bought close to death in a bear attack, is abandoned and left helpless by his comrades, leaving him to trek across vast terrains fraught with uncountable dangers in order to seek his revenge against the men who deserted him. The book is undoubtedly good, and takes the reader deep into a world we could otherwise never hope to understand, also introducing us  to the vicious conflicts that took place between white settlers and the hugely victimised Native Americans, something that isn’t bought to our attention often enough. It is a tough read though – particularly if you are an animal lover like myself (this is an even worse problem in watching the movie) – as Glass does literally anything and everything that he can possibly do to ensure his own survival and to obtain his revenge against Fitzgerald and Bridger. I felt disappointed with the ending of the book, however, though my view here was clearly prejudiced by how much I enjoyed the ending of the film, which I felt provided closure for both Glass and the viewer. In Punke’s book, however, the reader is forced to watch the perpertrators of the crime go fundamentally scot-free, and this feels extremely anticlimactic when the whole book has been spent building up Glass’ desire for revenge and setting fire to the same need in the reader. I did enjoy the book, but would perhaps recommend that it be read before the film, as I think this has highly coloured my judgement of what is otherwise a fascinating and shocking tale based on true events.

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