Book Review: Cowboys and Aliens by Joan D. Vinge

Cowboys and Aliens Joan D. Vinge- Cowboys and Aliens

Format- Paperback

Source- Review copy/ Pan Macmillan

Synopsis: 1875, New Mexico Territory.

A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde. It’s a town that lives in fear.

But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breath-taking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known.

Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he’s been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveller Ella, he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents – t

ownsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors – all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.

Review: This was a novelization of the movie released in August, 2011. I really enjoy when books are made into movies but this was my first encounter with it being the other way around. Unfortunately it didn’t really work.

Joan D Vinge writes in a skilful manner but I think the plot that she had to work with put her at a disadvantage. I couldn’t connect with ‘the stranger’ because written from third person he was very much foreign for the first part of the book. There were plenty of other characters in the small cowboy town who were brought into the story with enough depth to figure out their motives and styles of relating. Perhaps as a female I was unable to relate to any of these characters either and so I didn’t really have a vested interest in their survival during the alien invasion.

Ella was certainly an interesting character and it was her who made the stranger feel like a real person. The romance was sweet between them but if this wasn’t present in the story I probably wouldn’t have finished it. As it was sent for review from the publisher I was determined to see it through the end, but I think that there were a number of factors that influence my rating. Firstly, it is not typically a genre I read and secondly the characters just weren’t engaging enough for me.

This is one of those rare times when I wished I had seen the movie before the book because I probably would have had a better connection to the book if I could imagine some of it in my mind rather leaving it to the narrator. Then again, I may not have enjoyed the movie either!

So, my final words are- if you have seen the movie Cowboys and Aliens and really enjoyed it then pick up the book because you may just like it! It just didn’t work for me.

2/5 rating

Purchase book @

Fishpond/Amazon/Book Depository

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