I Didn’t Know You Could Die on the Oregon Trail Via Book: Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee


A powerful story of friendship and sacrifice, for fans of Code Name Verity

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship. 

Source: GoodReads

If you haven’t ever played Oregon Trail this review probably isn’t going to resonate as much as if you had.  I’ll be referencing several things that happened in the game-such as catching dysentery, over hunting, and my favorite themed parties (oh yeah, you could either use the programmed in names like Charity, Obadiah, and Francis or come up with your own party-I was partial to using  boy bands).

For this book our party leader is Samantha, better known as Sammy.  Not Sam.  Sammy much like the beloved Days of Our Life character.  Save for the fact that this Sammy is extremely boring despite killing her attempted rapist in the first chapter (that is the best and only some what bad ass moment in this book).    Because I am the reader of this book, I am keeping a log.  Much how your computer would make a log for you when you played Oregon Trail.

Really, if you weren’t an 80/90s baby and missed out on this game, I feel for you.  You should totally play it. 

Okay, now to the actual review (log):

Hour One of Reading:

This is actually a fairly decent opener.  The character was pretty bad ass if defending herself.  And she’s a non-WASP.  It’s actually interesting reading about a person of Chinese decent in the 19th century.  And I see potential with the secondary protagonist (Andy) as well.

Fifteen Minutes Later:

Character development is sorely lacking.  I have real issues with how Andy would so willingly help Sammy.  They barely know each other.  And I hate the use of dialect.  I get that Lee is trying to show the character, but it seems so stereotypical and gives me that nasty feeling.

And when are they going to go on the trail?  Don’t they need to buy supplies, oxen, those sort of things.  I get they’re on the run.  But shouldn’t they prepare more.  That one time I forgot to buy food on the Oregon trail my whole party ended up dying before we reached the Kansas River.


Thirty Minutes Later:

I am tired of knowing everyone’s Chinese zodiac sign and what it means.  If I wanted to know that I’d look at my Chinese Astrology book.  Pss, and stop acting like rabbits are all promiscuous.  And I really hate that this is how the character is shown as being diverse.  All my friends who come from a Chinese background do not talk about being born in the year of the snake.  For instead, one of my friends just talks about  their obsession with Eddie Redmayne.  I don’t think Eddie Redmayne has anything to with the Chinese zodiac.  And besides, fi I was Sammy I’d be much more concerned with how they’re going to get across that river.  They better not have the oxen ford the river.  You always die when you do that in the game.

Ten Minutes Later: 

These cowboys are not hot.  And they’re bland.  Also, someone spent a little bit too much time on translator.com and has given us a play by play on what basic Spanish means.  Will someone just get dysentery already?

Five Minutes Later:

Seems like Andy is a bit of a Bible thumper.  Dear lord…please for the love of God do not let there be slut slamming.  Measles?  Cholera?  Bandits?  Or can someone just go over kill with the buffalo shooting already?

Ten Minutes Later:

You know what, I’m going to rest for the night.  It seems to cure cholera on the trail, so maybe it will cure reading boredom.

Day Two:

I am sad to say that I died during Sammy and Andy’s Oregon Trail experience.  They made me DNF them because they were so boring, were stereotypes, and those cowboys of there’s were just plain stupid.  I am going to play Oregon trail now and input their names in there and purposely kill them off much like I used to to the cast of Step by Step and Full House*. 

Overall Rating: DNF and there’s nothing remotely redeemable here to give it an extra star.  If my postage situation here wasn’t so awful, I’d be returning it.

*Note, if you play a game of Oregon Trail on my Gateway 2000, you’ll find Michelle Tanner’s grave next to Patrick Duffy’s character on Step by Step.  Both of them got it around Fort Laramie.  Or maybe the Snake River, I forget.


One thought on “I Didn’t Know You Could Die on the Oregon Trail Via Book: Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2015 | Howdy YAL!

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