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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read for YAs and As alike., October 16, 2011
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This review is from: Shotgun Gravy (Atlanta Burns Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I'll open with the most important bit; you should buy this book. It's a great read that asks some tough questions, gives tough answers, and keeps enough mysteries in the wings to have you waiting for the next Atlanta Burns novella.

My first thought while reading was that YA is not quite where this should be. There is some harsh, dark, and powerful stuff going on here, and it seemed like it might be aiming a little high for that crowd. But then I reminded myself what kind of material I was reading as a "YA." While my first instinct ran to "No, no, no, protect the children's delicate minds!" you'll have remind yourself a) that youth can take this stuff, and they enjoy reading it, and b) that events like those Chuck describes happen every day, and they don't spare you for your youth. When you get to the afterward, you'll get an idea for what Chuck is trying to do here, and I admire it.

Give Atlanta Burns inaugural adventure a chance. I'm sure you'll be pleased.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty. Dark. Loved it., October 15, 2011
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This review is from: Shotgun Gravy (Atlanta Burns Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This was a pretty dark story handling with some of the real crap teens go through. It was gritty, it was fantastic. I couldn't stop reading. No, seriously. I normally go to bed at about 10:00 at night, and here it is, 1:00 in the morning.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Atlanta Burns, please!, January 30, 2012
This review is from: Shotgun Gravy (Atlanta Burns Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Atlanta Burns is the kind of take-no-prisoners person we all wished to be in high school. But for those of us without a fierce reputation and the willingness to pack bear mace along with our lunches, we probably weren't. "Shotgun Gravy" is a touching, funny, and gritty novella, following what will hopefully be the first of many adventures with our protagonist.

For those looking for a brisk read, the novella moves along at a wonderful clip. If you aren't already a fan of Chuck Wendig, this is the place to start. Happy reading!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this novella; a great start to a series with a lot of potential, February 23, 2012
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This review is from: Shotgun Gravy (Atlanta Burns Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Chuck Wendig is a writer's writer, and this novella will probably convince you as such. I would recommend this novella for anyone 15+ as there is mature content, but as the writer explains, it doesn't deal with anything that teenagers today, or anytime really, haven't dealt with on some personal level of some sort or the other. This story deals with bullying quite a lot and the effect it can have on individuals; it even makes a comment on the "It gets better campaign" and deals with it in a way that gives proper respect to the both the story and the aim of the campaign all while maintaining a consistent point of view, that of the modern American teenager.

If I had the opportunity to read this novella when I was 16 years old, it would have given me ideas of dark machinations in the vain that Star Wars gave me ideas of being a rebel. The main character understands why some people are just bad and how she must take a stand against those that would hurt others, all based upon their own personal beliefs of how society should be shaped. The author successfully fills the protagonist's path with obstacles that are believable in the form of a scary and morally corrupt advisory, but one that whole heartily believes that what they are doing is for the best of society and the community. For readers of Mr. Wendig's work on what it takes to be an effective writer this should come as no surprise. Very few of the characters come off as one dimensional and those that do do so because you believe they want themselves to be viewed that way by the other characters; a great example of this is a female skinhead that plays a maniacally scary role.

My favorite aspect of this novella is that the characters never feel invincible. Whether it is due to drug dependencies, broken noses, lack of emotional tools, or down right physical limitations, the characters always feel like they are in some sort of mortal danger at all times, whether that danger is physical or emotional. This gives the characters a sense of vulnerability that is rarely found in much of modern fiction as the writers are unwilling to take the mortality of their characters seriously, cheapening the story in the process.

I have one problem with the story, it feels a bit rushed. Going into the story with the understanding that it is a novella should alleviate a lot of this issue, but fully fleshed out characters and a deep knowledge of the universe that these characters inhabit is not something you will find. I am looking forward to a more realized school and town that is hinted at throughout but which has been more than likely been cut back due to editorial and page constraints. You get a taste of what is being conveyed and it's enough to get you hooked, so be sure to look out for future installments of this potentially incredible series.

Overall this novella is a great read and I would highly recommend it for anyone that is either going through high school or is looking for a great story that showcases a strong female character that you are not only rooting for every step of the way, but one that you wish you could have been strong enough to exemplify when you were that age.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...we need to make it better now.", February 22, 2012
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This review is from: Shotgun Gravy (Atlanta Burns Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Shotgun Gravy is a short read but a barbed slingshot bolt aimed at the topic of bullies and the trouble it takes to make them stop. The main character Atlanta Burns isn't quite a hero but is a fighter. She is troubled and instinctively causes some trouble, lashing out against what she feels is wrong. Her mother uses the word unhinged at one point; that's a good word for her. The chain is loose and slips off the gears yet the pedals keep spinning. She despises racism and homophobia she encounters in her rural Pennsylvania home but slips some unintentional harmful remarks off herself when making some new friends and allies. But she errs out of youthful ignorance, not bigotry. Bigotry is the villain of this tale. It is ingrained and established as part of the ecosystem but Atlanta is the rare teenager who rages against her surroundings. She has suffered abuse and won't tolerate it. Damaged but strong female heroines have come into vogue recently (as Wendig references in one scene) but I found Burns to be an original and interesting if deeply flawed character. She is the kind of girl you'd want exiting home room as you were being shoved against a locker. Her story arc isn't pretty but I feel this is an important story to tell. For those of us who see hurtful acts going down in out beleaguered schools and want to yell "Stop it!" as loud as we can, Atlanta is the sort with a clear and certain voice. I wouldn't suggest her methods. Concocting a plan while hopped up on Adderall involving your shotgun and a lot of nerve will lead to trouble of a violent sort but Burns lives in a violent ecosystem and works with what she's got. Still if this novella gives a bit of hope to a teen who is being victimized or warning to a parent who by necessity sends their children out into a flawed world or inspires a teacher to change how their school handles bullying or sends more folks out to a neighborhood watch then we are doing our part to make things better, now.

Believeable teenage characters who talk and behave and joke with each other are hard to write. It's also hard to portray that tense hormone-infused lonelyness and pain that goes along with that age as well as the stubborn enthusiasm not to conform to the human condition. Chuck Wendig carries that adolescent feeling across well. I'm hoping teens and former teens will see a lot of kinship with Atlanta Burns and the struggles she and her friends go through because it is far to common.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I so wanted to hate this book, July 16, 2012
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This review is from: Shotgun Gravy (Atlanta Burns Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This book should have been everything I hate about books. The main character is some teenage girl. It's bargain priced. It's self published and it's marketed as alternative young adult fiction. The book also has sequels coming funded by a Kickstarter campaign so it has that indie freemium vibe to it that makes my stomach turn a little bit from that "I'm trying super hard to prove I don't work for the man" vibe.

I actually adored it. Loved it, couldn't put it down. I thought the characters were compelling. The prose was tight and well formed. The story was engaging. The plot was paced well and the ending was complete and satisfying. It's everything I want in a book. I've been denied at least one of the above in "bestsellers" for many multiples of this price point.

It's short. Don't expect to spend a week in this world until the sequels are released. It's got some tough language so you don't want to buy it if your preferred genre is Christian romance.

I would not recommend it to my kids. I don't censor what they read but I still believe childhood and young adulthood should be as full of puppies, unicorns and wizards for as long as they want to keep reading about them. Yes I know you can make all kinds of allegories about the Wizard of Oz but that can wait until you're an embittered twice divorced English professor. If you don't think your kid is ready to spend a lot of time parsing the desirability of castrating rapists with shotguns, you might not want to buy this for Hanukkah. I would however highly recommend this for an afternoon's enjoyment by an adult or near adult.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gunpowder and cigarette ash, June 24, 2012
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This review is from: Shotgun Gravy (Atlanta Burns Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I picked up Chuck Wendig's Shotgun Gravy a few months ago when he was offering it for free. Free! I thought. Can't beat a deal like that. Then it started to collect dust on my Kindle, because I haven't been reading much lately. That changed when I remembered that I love reading and I set out to read a book a week. One of the first things I picked up was Shotgun Gravy. Shorter than a novel, but sometimes you start easy.

Shotgun Gravy is a mean little tale that author Chuck Wendig has painted with gunpowder and cigarette ash. Atlanta Burns, the shotgun-toting main character, is a girl with very serious problems, hardly the kind of person you would expect to lead a story, or at least be able to cheer for. And yet, she fits in just fine in this bleak world of damaged, dangerous folk. We can tell that the world has dealt Atlanta Burns a tough hand, but she's given as good as she's gotten, and perhaps that's why it's so easy to cheer her on. No taking things lying down, and for all that her character is badly flawed she places herself on the right side of the problems she faces. That is no mean feat for any teenager, especially not one with the kinds of scars Atlanta's earned, but at no point does it seem unbelievable.

This was a pleasantly short read, and it only took me about three nights to get through it. There is more to tell in this story, and more for us to learn, but Shotgun Gravy is a good balance between laying out a compelling world, creating characters with which I can sympathize with and want to win, and hinting at deeper details without bludgeoning me about the head and neck with them. There is no Ministry of Backstory here, just a tight, punchy tale that I enjoyed a good deal.

Also appreciated and timely is the issues of gay-bashing, abuse and and bullying. Though I wouldn't recommend Atlanta Burn's methods of dealing with the scum she encounters, we do live in a world where each disgusting tale of abuse of children by their peers and by those in authority around them is worse than the last. The timeliness of this story just increases the impact of the message.

There are more short stories in this series coming out, and I look forward to them. It also made me pick up Wendig's Blackbirds. In the meantime, I recommend it if you're looking for a read that you're sure to enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This book is like a punch in the mouth!, May 1, 2012
By 
D. Alexander Ward "D.A. Ward" (Hanover, Virginia United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Shotgun Gravy (Atlanta Burns Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
What "Shotgun Gravy" isn't:
It isn't subtle. The prose isn't often lyrical or poetic. It isn't high-minded literature in that stuffy, academic sense of the word. (Though I think its theme of common-sense tolerance is perhaps the highest virtue to which we can aspire.) It isn't lengthy. It isn't intended as an instruction manual for bullied kids who want to bring their revenge fantasies to life. (Well, I don't think it is anyway...)

So then what is it?
Chuck Wendig's "Shotgun Gravy" is like a punch in the mouth from a beautiful woman; the kind of punch that makes you respect and then fall in love with her.
The novella opens with the protagonist, an ass-kicking young teenage girl, Atlanta Burns, coming across a couple school bullies antagonizing some poor kid for being a "wetback." I won't ruin it for you but let's just say that for those who have never heard of such a thing, the beginning is likely to have you Googling "bear mace" when you're done. Ouch.
The pedal is to the floor from that point on and it is an incredibly fun ride.
You may already be familiar with Wendig's terribleminds.com website, wherein he offers copious amounts of advice on writing in a bluntly witty and verbally colorful fashion. "Shotgun Gravy" is rendered in a similar voice and tone and it works like a charm. Atlanta, herself a troubled teen with a recently acquired reputation for violence, is rendered not only as strong and smart but also vulnerable, unsure, and afraid. A character that could have easily been one-note is expertly fleshed out just enough to make her human and to make the reader want more, more, more.
"Shotgun Gravy" is a fun, brutal, cracked-mirror reflection of our society and the ugliness that is always just below the surface.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark tale with leading lady who blazes, March 26, 2012
By 
T. Finley (Daytona Beach, FL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Shotgun Gravy (Atlanta Burns Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Atlanta Burns is one heckuva protagonist! This 17-year-old high-school junior has a reputation in her small town, one she earned with the help of a .410 shotgun. The problem with a reputation based on a spectacular act of self-preservation is that it grows in the retelling. Now Atlanta finds herself in the role of protecting and avenging spirit when a couple of groups of racist and homophobic bullies won't let her mind her own business... which is what she really prefers.

Profane, damaged, prickly, Atlanta is damaged goods. And she's good damaged, as she uses her pain and history to help her find the strength she needs to deal with her messed-up life and with the human stains who are tormenting and even torturing the two guys who have somehow become her only friends.

I don't know how Chuck Wendig managed to get into the head of a messed-up teenage girl, but he's spot on. I'm looking forward to the other 3 novellas in this series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure gold, January 30, 2012
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This review is from: Shotgun Gravy (Atlanta Burns Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
If you're on the fence about Shotgun Gravy, my god, hop on over to this side. This is an amazing piece of work and you really need to read it.

It reads like a young adult novel, in the best sense -- pacey, exciting, and dealing with the dark realities of growing up, not the sugar-coated version of yesteryear. The plot is tight but not predictable. The characters are multi-textured and diverse, like real human beings. You'll come to the end and find yourself desperate to read Bait Dog, Wendig's as-yet unreleased sequel.

Buy it now. Read it in one sitting. You won't regret it.
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Shotgun Gravy (Atlanta Burns Book 1)
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