The Ravaged  by Norman Reedus

The Ravaged is a book about three middle(ish) class American people trying to find themselves in life. And not in the ‘hippie-ish’ finding oneself way, but more of the bildungsroman kind of way. Written by The Walking Dead star, Norman Reedus (right), this story is an easy read that keeps you entertained. While it might be a little bit surface-level and a tad overly descriptive at times, Reedus gives us a novel with three different storylines about altogether average people with the types of lives that don’t always get on to the page. The kind of people and circumstances encountered in this book feel like people the reader could really see themselves interacting with, from trashy waitresses and old friends to scruffy bartenders. 

One of the main characters, the “gear-head” motorcycle mechanic, Hunter, is a thirty-something-year-old Marine veteran who discovers his father died in a mysterious fire, prompting him to embark on a cross-country road trip with his friends from North Carolina to California, to get his affairs in order. Another storyline follows Jack, a wealthy businessman who realizes he wasted his whole life working while neglecting his family. Jack, a sixty-year-old, overweight man, decides to take a spontaneous journey to South America to see what life is like for people who have to fight for everything they have, every day. Lastly, Anne is a young, 17-year-old girl, born into an abusive, poor family in small-town Tennessee. When she gets fed up with her home life, she decides to become a train hopper with her friends. Throughout her story, she sees more of the USA than ever before and discovers more about life than she ever thought possible. 

A relatively short, 283 page novel with three separate storylines makes for a quick and easy read that ends up being a refreshing story about life in middle America. While you can tell this is Reedus’ debut novel, the not entirely fleshed-out writing is made up for with the interesting storylines that might hit closer to home than expected.