Tuesday, June 27, 2017

strictly literary: badlands by melissa lenhardt

the third and final book of the sawbones trilogy brings laura and kindle's story to a close. these two are the ultimate survivors. it's like they literally reach the depths of hell and crawl their way back.

at some point, you think, what else could possibly go wrong for them? and somehow lenhardt finds ways to surprise you on how badly things go sideways. but then as we barrel toward the conclusion of the saga, things start to come full circle. i'm not interested in spoiling the end for anyone, because i think that if you've stuck it out this far, you deserve to experience the story firsthand. so i'm just going to speak about the book in generalities.

one thing i think this is so great is that everything does tie together. we literally come back to the beginning in badlands and solve the original mystery once and for all. and how we reach that conclusion really does work for me. i love that she doesn't do it alone. because one thing i've loved about laura, even as she has frustrated me as a character, is her ability to connect with others. especially other women, and how she develops relationships that while not necessarily predicated on friendship, are at least about mutual respect. as much as catherine bennett relied only on herself, laura kindle learns that she alone can't do it all, as brilliant and as resourceful as she might be. sometimes you get by with a little help from your friends.

that's a worthy lesson. and it's nice to see laura take it to heart. when you think of everything this woman has suffered and endured, it's good to see that she comes out of it, in the end, a better, a more complete person. i didn't connect with laura until blood oath, and in badlands we finally see her reach her potential.

i think that's worth something. i'm glad i stuck with the series past sawbones, it's not really easy reading, the western frontier was not an easy place to be, especially if you were a woman. and reading about it now, and seeing the fights and the struggles that women continue to have today, you realize maybe we aren't so far off from this. and then you wonder what the heck is wrong with the world. and then you are happy that there are stories of survival like this one.

**badlands will publish on june 27, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/orbit books (redhook) in exchange for my honest review.

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