The Revenant by Michael Punke

There’s something you should know about me. I hate seeing TV shows or movies that are based on a book without having read the original content first. There are exceptions, of course, but consider yourself warned if I vent about leaving something out of a screen adaptation or the idea that someone is terribly miscast.

In that context, I felt the need to read The Revenant before I saw too many trailers, spoilers or read too many reviews about the new film.

This pleasantly short (272 pages) novel, based on true events, left me with one overwhelming thought: Life in the wild west was hard … really, really hard.

The writing of this book is simple and sparse, much like the surroundings of main character Hugh Glass. It’s a tale of bears, survival and fur trading, not of emotional discovery.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. Despite the brutal topic, it was a light read. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a short adventure story with bit of real history.  A negative for me was constantly picturing Leonardo DiCaprio in the main role (see previous gripes about reading before watching). I think it’s a reasonable casting choice but so much for me developing my own vision of Glass, bear scars and all.

I did find the notes at the end interesting, putting the novel into historical context. The references to Fort Bridger brought back memories of snake bites, dysentery along the Apple II GS version of the Oregon Trail.

Verdict: Read it. It’s quick and engaging. Plus, bears!

The Revenant

The Revenant: A Novel of RevengeMichael Punke; 272 pages; Carroll & Graf, 2003 

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