by James A. Thomas
This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Camelia is a recently orphaned teen who has to make it to her estranged grandparents' home in South Dakota or face foster care. But she's too young to travel alone, and she doesn't have enough money.
Bear is Camelia's neighbor, an aging biker with a terminal illness who is determined to make one last run to the big Harley riders' meet in Sturgis.
Camelia talks Bear into taking her along, since her grandparents live less than thirty miles from Sturgis.
Together with Bear's younger sister and a friend, they take off on Harleys, planning on going the long way and soaking up the scenery.
Things go well for a while, and it really is a dream vacation. Then people they meet start turning up dead. The group learns that a mass murderer known as the Northwest Killer is operating in the area. That's bad enough, but it soon becomes apparent that they are somehow psychically linked to the man.
For Camelia, it becomes less a matter of reaching her grandparents than of simply staying alive.
The Last Ride is a road novel, with death riding along. While it’s technically a young adult book because of Camelia's age (14), adults who don't require sex or four-letter words in their reading material should find it an interesting read.
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I have to admit, I was a little concerned before I started this book. Why? Because the whole "going-on-a-road-trip-and-seeing-what-happens" thing has been done so very many times. Sometimes well, and others - well, not.
That said, I was happily surprised. Of course, the characters had their reasons for wanting to go on this trip, and they accomplished what they set out to do, even if things didn't always go just right.
Be aware that this isn't a fast-paced, grab-you-by-the-shirt kind of book. It moves more slowly, but it works well for the story itself. The friendship between Camelia and Bear was sweet, and the other characters on the ride with them are a lot of fun.