Kelsey Demers's Reviews > The Whiskey Rebels

The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss
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's review
Feb 06, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: adult-fiction

I now officially wish that I could give books half stars. When going back and forth between "I really liked it" and "It was amazing." I find myself somewhere in the middle.

I, myself am surprised that I liked this book so much as I did. For one, historical fiction is really quite hit or miss with me. (That isn't to say that I don't like it, rather that my tolerance can be low.) Also, I rarely ever like alternating chapters as a method to tell a story unless it is because there simply is no other way that the story can be told, as it is with Picoult's Handle with Care, and My Sister's Keeper, or Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code.

With David Liss' story of the Whiskey Rebels however, I find myself completely taken in with the historical setting. He is truly a man in his element as he beautifully crafts the scene and time for his readers. He has created unforgettable characters in Captain Ethan Saunders and Joan Maycott, both of which lead the alternating stories within this novel. While I do enjoy Joan Maycott as a character in this novel, I must say that out of all of the characters in all the books that I have read, Ethan Saunders will probably rank among the highest for the most enjoyable to get to know. He clearly steals the show and is absolutely hilarious in his dry wit.

The difficulty of alternating chapters in novels is the fact that sometimes you get so attached to one story that you wish that it would rather just forget the other and stay with your hero. I find that Whiskey Rebels falls into this trap. While Joan Maycott and her troubles in the west are definitely interesting and after they get going later on in the book definitely a page turner, I was always hoping for the next chapter with Saunders and his adventures. I felt as though I was reading two completely different novels though I knew in the end that these characters must of course meet.

And meet of course they do, but unfortunately it is brought upon the reader so quickly that it feels almost as a slap to the face. You do not see it coming nor have any idea of how it came to be. I know that on a second read through I would be more prepared for this but I did find it rather frustrating because while you are following two characters, you are not following them at the same moment in time, in fact, you are following them years apart from each other. It would have been helpful for his readers if the date and year appeared over each chapter, rather than just a few, for I had taken the year to mean that it was for both of my characters, rather than just one. Perhaps it was just my folly and no one else found it troublesome, but it is definitely something to be on the lookout for for future readers.

Also, at least a background of understanding the the workings of the stock market, especially during this time in the nation would help any reader work their way through this book. It definitely didn't stop me from enjoying it, but I rather felt that I read through portions of this book like I do when men talk about sports, simply smiling and nodding, going, "Oh yes, I was quite pleased with that..." or "My Gosh! is that so..?" without really understanding the entirety of what was placed before me. But no matter, it makes this book no less fun to read.

Yet other than the above stated, the book is really quite fantastic. While it is quite long, you don't really notice it but for maybe a few chapters near 3/4 in. It is fun, smart and a really good read. Where a lot of authors can write a good book yet fizzle out for their ending, Liss' ending is by far the strongest part of his book and he does not disappoint his readers. This will definitely be a book that I would like to pick up again in the future, though I think I shall brush up on the workings of the stock market before I traverse it's pages again.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Lisa Loved your review. I am so happy you enjoyed the book as much as I did!

Mackenzie Love this book! It is one of my favorites!! I did, however do the exact same thing when they were talking about the stock market. It got quite confusing.

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