Gunslinger Girl is a book that I really wanted to like, but had…cautious…expectations for it. Despite my caution, it ended up being quite a disappointment.
Serendipity “Pity” Jones escapes her horrible father and their restrictive dystopian commune. She ends up in the Las Vegas of her country, and finds a job as a performing gunslinger at an acclaimed theater. As she tries to find her way in this strange society, a lot of sinister forces are hiding in the shadows…
The book starts in your standard YA dystopian setting. It then moves from dystopian to hardcore Wild West-ing with just a hint of dystopian in the background.
The book makes its first mistake in the premise. It sets up a a society, and unsavory situation for Pity, that she needs to escape. Once Pity finds her way to Cessation, this backstory is all but forgotten. Her mother, who died long before Pity found herself in the need of escape, is mentioned a few times…but that is all we really here again of Pity’s background. I guess her father hunting her down doesn’t sound all that interesting considering everything else that happens, but Pity keeps thinking he might? And there is no follow through on that threat. This book has a lot of that–empty threats and tension that ultimately have nothing to do with the conflict. Even Pity’s conflict in competing, something that is a focus of the book’s marketing, is a footnote to what this book is actually about.
What was the book about? I’m not sure… There’s a lot of politics in play, and a lot of twists. So many twists, in fact, that some twists turn out not to be twists because what you intially thought was the real truth. Some twists are also not important to the story, even though Pity tries to tell us it is.
The romance holding up the story is also very weak. It’s a great example of telling instead of showing. Pity always told us how she felt, and other characters told us how Max felt but I could never bring myself to care.
I like the idea of a Wild West themed dystopian. It hasn’t been done much in books that I know of, though I think it’s the premise of sci-fi TV show Westworld. I wish Gunslinger Girl had delivered more on what it offered. Since it didn’t, maybe I should watch Westworld. If you’ve watched it, please share your opinion of the show in the comments! I liked the idea of this book, but didn’t like it once I started reading it. Do you think Westworld will deliver what I want?