The Revenant

Book Review: The Revenant – Michael Punke (Hugh Glass)


This is a book review of The Revenant by Michael Punke.

Chances are you’ve heard of the Hollywood blockbuster movie directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. I’ve not seen this epic movie yet, but likely will at some stage this year. Instead I have purchased the Kindle version of the book which the movie was adapted from to read first.

The book follows Hugh Glass, a trapper in the early 1800s, left abandoned and injured shortly after an encounter with a bear in the wilderness, and determined to track down those he feels wronged him, whilst at the same time fighting alone for survival.

This book whilst drawing upon a true story, is a well researched fictional work, with a heavy dose of legend put together by a consistent writing style that almost washes away the time separating the story from today, feeling like you are standing there in the wilderness with Hugh… until you get up, put the kettle on and turn the heating up!

The build up to the event with the bear was well measured, and without giving away key elements, the book isn’t just about survival and pay back, but also about Indians, the fur traders and about the region of America at that time. It quickly occurred to me that there are some similarities with ‘The Martian’ for many parts of the book, especially early on, where a man is fighting for survival, against odds not stacked in his favour, often relying on what is to hand and a determination.

I’m British and I’ve never visited any of the locations mentioned, but perhaps it would be even more fascinating, if that was possible, for a reader residing in or near to the setting of the story. This book isn’t just an incredible tale, but due to the quality of writing, feels like a glimpse into history, and another way of life almost two hundred years ago.

I am also a vegetarian, but by reading this book I wasn’t admiring the skills or condoning many of the actions, but was just reading a story. By reading the book, I imagined it as told by the writer, and spread over a week, I looked forward to daily dipping into the book to find out what happened next. Perhaps this experience will reduce my enjoyment of the movie adaption, but I’m glad I read the book first, before I got to see the Hollywood version.

Since reading the book, I’ve searched online for some of the key people and locations. It has renewed an interest in that era of American history, that I’ve not experienced since my school days.

A good story of survival set in a time of uncertainty and danger.


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