Lost Canyon by Nina Revoyr

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    Carol Crooker
    BPL Member


    Locale: Desert Southwest, USA

    3.5/5 I enjoyed reading Lost Canyon. The book is a fictional story about two men and two women with varying levels of wilderness experience who embark on a backpacking trip in the High Sierras and run into danger. The story line kept me interested, the writing flowed smoothly, the editing was good (I only noticed two typos) and the backpacking details were accurate, although not lightweight. The descriptions of the environment the hikers were travelling through and their reactions to it were so vivid that I wanted to be there – minus the man made dangers of course. All-in-all a good read. Some criticisms: Revoyr spends 102 pages developing her characters before taking them into the backcountry. I would have preferred the characters arrive in the backcountry sooner. Race and gender were themes in Lost Canyon that could have been developed more subtly. The use of coarser terms for bodily excretions felt out of place with the rest of the writing in some spots. For example, when Gwen thinks about her “piss.”

    Simon Kenton
    BPL Member


    Nina Revoyr's Lost Canyon is a fast read set in one of the most scenic areas of the country. Told from the viewpoint of three characters, in mostly sequential order, I particularly enjoyed each character's inner dialogue. At the outset, each character's viewpoint offers stark contrast. But as the story develops, so do the characters and they become more similar toward the end. Revoyr does a good job describing the Sierra Nevada. So much so that my wanderlust piqued while reading and nostalgia kicked in. *Possible Spoilers Below* I only had one real complaint with the book. That being the lack of continued development for the character, Oscar. Due to events in the book, Oscar's passages are shortened. I found that I wasn't very interested in his inner dialogue after a certain point. It is kind of disappointing because Revoyr is developing this interesting character and then that development is abruptly halted. It left me feeling that his story was incomplete. I think I know why Revoyr does this. To give more development to Oscar, at the point where it stops, would slow the precipitating plot. It may be a difficult task, but I would've liked to see continuing development of all three characters while maintaining the fast pace of the book. Overall, Lost Canyon is a fun summer read meant to be enjoyed while backpacking.

    David Noll
    BPL Member


    Locale: Maroon Bells

    Nina Revoyr's "Lost Canyon" is a story about four people, taking a backpacking trip together, who come from very different backgrounds. A lot of the story involves each person's private thoughts and how they evolve, as a person, on what turns into the trip from hell. It was an easy read and enjoyable. Recommended.

    Seth Brewer
    BPL Member



    I picked up this book eager to get lost in a tale of danger and mystery in the High Sierra… Lost Canyon delivered both. The 100-page back-story somewhat dampened my eagerness however, and the sporadic depth of the character development brought a little uneven feeling to the flow of the book. I felt that the somewhat slow start and rushed backbone of the story lessened the potential impact. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of a morning sunrise at camp in the mountains, and I waited with baited breath as danger quickly unfolded around the story characters. The plot succeeded in wrapping me up in all the emotions and thoughts and that may pervade the midst of a hikers nightmare. Overall this was a quick read that gave me both a good story and mental imagery of a magical place known as the High Sierra. I would recommend it to those interested in a good hiking fiction, and look forward to seeing what other stories Nina Revoyr imagines to life on the pages her of future novels.

    Russ W
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southeastern US

    The good: It’s always refreshing to have a plot for a novel centered around backpacking. Although not the “Backpacking Light” version of backpacking we aspire to attain, the author obviously has some experience and presented a credible depiction of the physical demands and pain, as well as the magnificence of nature. The leader of the group, Tracy, INITIALLY provided decent group direction regarding equipment and guidance for some first-time backpackers…. The mixed: The writing style of the novel was fairly simplistic, and I’ll nitpick a few of the plot points: While the book uses backpacking and mountains for the main plot vehicle, the more substantive background of the book centers on the diversity and the subsequent prejudices of the members of the group: Tracy (Asian/Irish), Oscar (Hispanic), Todd (White Male), and Gwen (African American). Throw in some White Supremacists, a Mexican Drug Cartel, a few questions of sexual orientation…..Not necessarily a bad story line, just a bit overdone here. Additionally, there seemed to be an overemphasis on pure character development versus handling more subtly through the plot. Can you imagine a forest ranger suggesting to a group of fairly inexperienced hikers to use a crude hand-written map to find an obscure and somewhat unmarked trail that hasn’t been maintained or used in many years? Can you imagine an experienced leader and backpacker throwing caution to the wind by taking a group of novices to a marginally marked or unmarked trail, without a proper map? A recipe for getting seriously killed. Overall Rating: I’ll give the book a 3 out of 5…a decent read but probably not a gold medal winner.

    Richard May
    BPL Member


    Locale: Nature Deficit Disorder

    The book is entertaining and the mix of characters, though at times feels somewhat contrived, moves the story forward as they navigate the backcountry together. Which, until half way through the book, the story seems to revolve around their different backgrounds and how they get along. In that regard it intrigues me as a portrait of Los Angeles. The turning point, and dramatic finale is fun, thrilling and pushes the characters off trail in a cross country race to save their lives. It probably does not not help the already existing fear of the unknown that many backpackers already carry with them into the backcountry. Revoyr has done her research and is probably experienced in backcountry travel. The descriptions and details about backpacking practices makes this aspect of the story believable.

    Mina Loomis
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central Texas

    Review of Lost Canyon by Nina Revoyr To start—the book has a lovely cover of dark mountain scenery, which drew me in but with a shadow of trouble to come. Then there’s a “hand-drawn” map that reminds one of tales of hidden treasure. So, I started the first chapter ready for adventure. Which is a good thing because it gave me the momentum and patience to stick with it through the first part of the book. I agree with the necessity of developing the characters into real people before throwing them into dramatic situations—how else can the reader identify with them enough to experience the emotional impact?—but Revoyr’s style in this section, while adequate to the purpose, is, well, sort of bland or stilted. It was as though she had a list of characteristics for each stereotyped (allegorical?) character and was checking it off. The device of rotating the voice of narration among the three protagonists works pretty well. When the story gets to the mountains, and our characters hit the trail, Revoyr seems to become more interested in her story. She puts in many nice descriptions of the surroundings. While these don’t really knit in fully with the story’s action, they are enjoyable to read, especially for one who loves it out there too. Still, it is only when trouble begins that Revoyr hits her stride, and the reader is borne along seamlessly through an adventure well worth reading. Bottom line, for BPL readers—stick it out and you will be rewarded. Mina Loomis elmvine Central Texas

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