Thunder by Dylan James

Thunder by Dylan James
Publisher: Deep Hearts YA
Genre: Young Adult, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (199 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Grant Peters is sixteen and wants nothing more than to just compete in calf roping at rodeos and keep winning gold. But there are two obstacles in his path.

The first is Logan Summers, also sixteen, and also into calf roping. Logan is Grant’s only real competition and every time Logan wins, he gives Grant a smug little smirk that sets Grant’s blood boiling. Deep inside, though, Grant knows that his hostility toward Logan is about more than that smirk; it’s about feelings he’s not ready to acknowledge.

The second is Grant’s parents being close to selling the family ranch and moving to the city, away from rodeo, and away from his horse, Thunder.
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So when Grant discovers evidence of a deadly cougar stalking the ranch, he decides to take it upon himself to hunt down what would undoubtedly kill the little business his family has left if word got out. Of course, as soon as he sets off into the woods, he runs into Logan, who is undertaking the same hunt to save his own family’s ranch.

Now, these two teenage rodeo nemeses have to overcome their hatred for each other and their uncertainty about themselves if they have any hope of coming together to save their families’ businesses.

Not every adventure announces itself ahead of time.

Grant was a well developed main character. He was kind and intelligent. Even better than that, one of his biggest flaws had to do with how he handled emergencies. He preferred to fix things himself instead of asking for help even in situations that really could have used extra people working on them. Seeing how this flaw impacted the course of his story only made me like him more. There was something very relatable about someone who struggled with something that was hard to overcome and that had a serious impact on his life. Grant felt real to me, and I always get excited when I meet characters who fit that criteria.

As much as I liked Logan, I found it confusing to have two narrators. His persona was so similar to Grant’s that I had trouble telling them apart. The fact that some scenes switched between them without clearly letting the audience know that was happening only added to my confusion. He would have made an equally good sole protagonist, but I think this story would have worked better if only one of them had explained what was happening in it.

The romance unfolded nice and slowly in this tale. I always appreciate slow-burning relationships, especially for characters like these that had a lot of other stuff on their plates when the audience first met them. It made perfect sense for them to focus on more pressing matters before spending much time thinking about their love lives.

I’d recommend Thunder to anyone who loves horses or nature.

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