Just Hatched is a feature where I share my first impressions of a book after the first chapter. Check out the announcement post for more information.
Calamity has to be one of the most original books I have ever read. Taking the western genre and combining it with aliens …. literally big green men …. and a re-telling of the backstory of Calamity Jane makes for a refreshing read.
Note: I received an advanced copy of Calamity from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Calamity by J. D. Jordan
Published by Heliosphere Books on September 1, 2016
Genres: Adult, Genre-bender, Sci-fi, Weird West
Page Length: 300 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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I’m sure you’ve heard of Calamity Jane, but this is not a novel about Calamity Jane. At least not the Jane you may have read about. Calamity Jane is part of the legends of the Wild West, but long before she scouted with Custer or “Wild Bill” Hickok, she was a fifteen-year-old girl with a fiery temper.
Violence and tragedy turn young Jane’s world upside down and soon she finds herself riding with an alien gunslinger—the Green Man—through a landscape of revenge and betrayal.
Along the way, she learns how to shoot a six-gun and how to stand on her own, even when surrounded by Lakota warriors, and be respected. From space ships to guns that can shoot the wings off a butterfly a mile away, young Jane realizes that the universe is far bigger than the Wild West and that she can trust no one in it to save her but herself.
When the villainous Grays meddling in the wars between the Indians and the government stand in the way of the Green Man making his way home, Jane finds her desire for revenge may be less than her loyalty for the longrider. And in that realization, she becomes the hero the Wild West has long remembered.
So, forget what you know of how the West was won. Forget the Indian Wars and Custer’s Last Stand. Instead, learn the truth of what happened when a young girl met a longrider she called the Green Man . . .
How is the writing style?
Calamity is told by Martha “Calamity Jane” Canary as a series of recollections told to an unspecified listener, some time after the events have unfolded. As such, the tale is told in colorful dialect with many opinions and observations interspersed by teller. But give Calamity her due; she is honest about how much her adolescent self needed to learn as she grows from an orphaned girl to the woman of legend.
As this tall tale evolves, the western dialect helps pull the reader into imagining the world of the very wild west, but the frequent dropping of the “f-bomb” (although possibly accurate for the time and location) is jarring in its sense of modernity.
General tone of the beginning
This is a gritty tale that starts off with an attempted rape and proceeds through scrub grass and gunfights as the Green Man searches for a way off this planet and Calamity Jane seeks to settle some scores of her own.
Setting, genre, etc?
Mix an old-style western with a bit of science fiction and a whole lotta tall tale genre.
- My current read, leave me alone! (~5 stars)
- Reading in the near future *hides from TBR pile glare* (~4 stars)
- Hoping to get back to eventually (~3 stars)
- Probably not getting back to but someone else will like it (~2 stars)
- Don’t really want to push this copy on anyone else (~1 star)
Calamity is actually 3 stories (“books”) in one, and I finished the first tale. The story was interesting, and the character of Calamity Jane pulls the reader along, but I am having some trouble staying hooked. I am having trouble believing that aliens – who do stick out a bit with green skin and antennae – would not have caused a panic nor drawn reporters out from back East. And without any sense of why they would be hanging out in the old West, the Green Man and his fellows remain too enigmatic for me to fathom. I’ll put this one of the stack for “maybe later” if curiosity starts to nag at me a bit.
Have you read this one yet? Are you inclined to check it out?
Calamity by J. D. Jordan
© 2016, Barbara. All rights reserved.