Michael Punke – The Revenant Audiobooktext
The Revenant ”is a novel by Michael Punke. Based on real facts, published by Presses de la Cité in April 2014, the work describes an almost unimaginable story of human endurance, which occurred at the beginning of the 19th century, in a region which today overlaps with Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska. In terms of endurance, it was nearly 3,000 miles of unexplored American desert that a trapper left for dead by two of his companions crossed, crawling then limping. Hugh Glass, the ghost, betrayed by his family and obsessed with revenge, will never stop finding them and taking their skin off them.
Punke’s novel begins in 1823, when 36-year-old Hugh Glass joined the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, a company specializing in beaver hunting and the trade in beaver pelt: the land all around is immense, unexplored and perilous. because the wild beasts are legion and the Indian tribes do not all look favorably on the advance of the white man on the land of their ancestors. During a beaver hunt, in the middle of the forest, Glass is brutally attacked by a grizzly: almost scalped, the back deeply cut by the claws of the bear which protected its cubs, cruelly bitten in the thigh, an arm become invalid bleeding profusely, in a high fever and delirious, Glass seems definitively doomed. Untransportable, Glass is watched over by two volunteers, the young Bridger and Fitzgerald, a ruthless mercenary. the expedition leader gives them each $ 70 and asks them to watch Glass and then give him a Christian burial when the time comes. The expedition continues on its way. In the two days that follow, Bridger and Fitzgerald decide to leave the dying man alone: they leave him after having stripped him of his rifle, his knife and some warm clothes. A dead person doesn’t need anything, that’s obvious.
Modest in size (350 pages), the book reads fairly quickly: the story of Glass keeps us in suspense as the twists and turns are numerous. the reader crosses wide open spaces, immerses himself with “our” hero in the icy water of the torrents, meets Indians with unexpected customs, comes face to face with bison or wolves, his face whipped by the violent wind, discovers the way of life of the military forts, lost “in the middle of nowhere”, learns to use plants and beaver skins to make medicines or makeshift boats, in short, a permanent wonder. the suspense does not fall very rarely as the hunt is continuous. The fluidity of the writing and the youthfulness of the words are obvious. The author remains honest and precise in his descriptions. The psychology of the characters is not to be outdone: can we choose a stranger to watch over a dying person? In case of danger to his own life, can we put the life of the other in front of his own? To become a man, a real one in the eyes of his people, how to resist committing a reprehensible act? And, how can we not forgive the one who has sinned? Finally, you will learn a lot of things about this slice of history of the great American West, on the fur trade, with a detour through the Mexican bandits, the pirates, the Spaniards and the Texan vigilantes. To specialists in the genre, “The Revenant” will evoke great classics like “To build a fire” by Jack London and “The big sky” by A. B. Guthrie.
However, the book is not brilliant. the title already announces the end of the book: Glass will survive and come back for revenge. What is the point of reading an adventure novel when you know in advance the happy outcome? Then, if the suspense is real, the repetitions are frequent: the reader will have on several occasions the impression of crossing the same landscapes, of hearing the same sounds, of smelling the same smells, of eating the same thing. The novelty effect does not last long. And then, the psychological analysis smells of rose water: it has no real depth. Finally, some scenes are unrealistic: have you ever swam through icy torrents? Have you ever fought over a bison carcass with several hungry wolves? Did you manage to make a fire in the open with a little tinder and a few wet twigs? Think you can make friends with Sioux who have never seen white men before? Do you feel able to crawl on your stomach for several hundred miles without eating anything other than a few roots? Certainly, and Michael Punke tells us at the end of the book: there is a lot of fiction in “The Revenant”. And then, the icing on the cake: in the preface, a quote from the Epistle to the Romans (XII, 19) by Saint Paul: “Do not avenge yourselves, but allow the wrath of God to act, for it is written: “Vengeance for me, retribution for me,” says the Lord “. Well, from my point of view, it’s “too much! “.
So what to think? A good first book, an extraordinary story in the heart of the American “wilderness”, an exotic novel, well documented, with a story all in all quite gripping, intended for young people and adolescents: I give three stars and thank Les Presses de la Cité and Babelio for sending me the book as part of the “critical mass” operation in March 2014.