4 out of 4 stars
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Sin City Retribution by Rick Hart uses a series of interconnected short stories to convey the experience of being a member of a motorcycle club. It's based heavily on the author's personal experience, and its style would be best described as slice-of-life. It certainly has no shortage of action, though - being a member of a biker club is notoriously dangerous, and Hart's life in the book is no exception. He takes readers along on a journey full of crashes, heartbreak, and more than his fair share of fights, all conveyed with a stunning amount of polish and heart.
The most striking thing about this book is how well it balances off-putting elements with genuinely heartwarming ones. The atmosphere of the club itself toes the line between a cult and a genuine found family. Members support each other at great cost to themselves but are still so terrified of appearing weak that Hart can't even let the club members know he has a cold. In the book, he often acts disproportionately violent towards people who he feels disrespected him, and he exhibits very little self-control. This is tempered by a genuine love of his fellow club members and a passion for riding motorcycles that make him hard to dislike, despite his wildly impulsive actions, making his character truly fascinating.
I cannot emphasize enough how thoroughly immersive this book's writing style is. It's simultaneously punchy and expressive, with details provided carefully and effectively to paint a stunning picture throughout the book. Many authors write about events they've experienced and people they've met, but the way Hart brings characters and settings to life speaks to a real passion for storytelling that is hard to come by in these kinds of books. The short story format allows Hart to focus on only the events that were most significant to him, and he does a great job of conveying his emotions to the reader in every scene. Narrative flow isn't sacrificed, though; the continuity and cast of characters, as well as a consistent timeline with only occasional flashbacks, make the story easy to follow.
It's also worth noting that many parts of this book are rather intense - Hart has an awful temper, so readers who are easily frightened by angry, violent men will want to avoid reading this. It was also a bit confusing to me that many of Hart's most unreasonable reactions, like running a truck off the road at over 80 miles per hour, were among his most celebrated. Ultimately, though, this seems like an attempt not to break fiction by acknowledging the foolhardiness of such actions, something that Hart in the book surely would never do.
Overall, for its vivid writing style and impressive storytelling, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I was able to find a handful of grammatical errors, but they were mostly just minor quotation mark issues and weren't too distracting. Fans of the motorcycle club lifestyle should certainly pick this one up, but it's still worth reading even if your interest in the topic is only marginal. It was a fast-paced and thoroughly enjoyable read with vivid characters and settings, and I'll be looking out for the author's future work.
Sin City Retribution
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