I’m not going to lie, the cover initially drew me in like a fly to honey. And then after I read this synopsis? Sold. To me this reads as a Western inspired story about family and friendship.
In the near post-apocalyptic future, the skies are always gray and people are constantly searching for the sun. For teenage outlaw Seph, it’s the only world he’s ever known. With his horse, his favorite pistol, and his knowledge for survival passed down from his dead father, Seph knows it’s safer to be alone.
But after a run-in with a local gang that call themselves the Lawmen, and having been wrongly accused of murder, Seph teams up with Avery—a determined girl whose twin brother has been taken by the same gang.
After living in a small, rundown town her whole life, Avery knows nothing of the Wild—the lands controlled by nobody where travel is risky. With Seph’s help, they track down her brother but quickly find the tables have turned and they are now the ones being hunted. With rumors of mysterious dangers to the south and a safe sanctuary to the west, they’ve only got one option, but getting there won’t be easy with the Lawmen on their trail.
The only thing that matters in the Wild is how fast your trigger hand is, but Seph doesn’t know if his will be fast enough to save them all.
Ride On is entirely entertaining. Both Seph and Avery have pretty compelling backstories which are established early on. This makes it easily readable because you naturally want to find out more about them. Why is Avery in the Wild? What secrets is Seph hiding? While this is certainly a post-apocalyptic story – the premise being the sky is permanently occluded by clouds – it reads more like a Western to me. The setting is in this far future, but there isn’t a whole ton of world building to more than that – like really intense discussion of political events that lead them here. And I think that’s fine, it wasn’t marketed as SF it’s a Western!
I think what kept me reading were the characters. You can get easily swept into the lives of Seph and Avery. They read so relatably and while there’s just a little angst and tension in their friendship, it’s still makes you want to keep going. There were interesting themes that were introduced. For example, there’s this idea of ‘the lawmen’ and the cruelty humans enact on each other – especially in these societies. It’s every human for themselves out there and there’s this almost nostalgic pull. Was it always like this?
And so, in some ways, our characters are struggling to be the most decent person they can be in this world. How do they escape without blood on their hands? I enjoyed how Cole plays with this idea. Because when it’s about survival and fighting for our lives – how can we live with ourselves? Reading about how Seph and Avery handle this challenge was my favorite part of the book because it allows them to not only learn about themselves, but also each other. Did I mention this was also dual perspective?
Check out Ride On on Goodreads.