Review: ‘The Revenant’ by Michael Punke Book and Movie Review

I received this book for free from agency review pitch, publisher request pitch in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: ‘The Revenant’ by Michael Punke Book and Movie ReviewThe Revenant by Michael Punke
Published by Macmillan on January 6th, 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adult, Historical, Survival
Pages: 272
Format: Paperback
Source: agency review pitch, publisher request pitch

A thrilling tale of betrayal and revenge set against the nineteenth-century American frontier, the astonishing story of real-life trapper and frontiersman Hugh Glass

The year is 1823, and the trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company live a brutal frontier life. Hugh Glass is among the company’s finest men, an experienced frontiersman and an expert tracker. But when a scouting mission puts him face-to-face with a grizzly bear, he is viciously mauled and not expected to survive. Two company men are dispatched to stay behind and tend to Glass before he dies. When the men abandon him instead, Glass is driven to survive by one desire: revenge. With shocking grit and determination, Glass sets out, crawling at first, across hundreds of miles of uncharted American frontier. Based on a true story, The Revenant is a remarkable tale of obsession, the human will stretched to its limits, and the lengths that one man will go to for retribution.

About Michael Punke

Michael Punke is a writer, novelist, professor, policy analyst, policy consultant, attorney and currently the Deputy United States Trade Representative and US Ambassador to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

He is best known for writing The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge (2002), which was adapted into film as The Revenant (2015), directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, with a screenplay by Iñárritu and Mark L. Smith, and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy.

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book review


Based on a real life story about Glass who gets mauled by a mama Grizzly Bear and left for dead by two others. A harrowing tale of revenge and survival, this will have most people on the edge of their seats.


I went into this with a ton of enthusiasm. Read fifty percent of the book and didn’t want to DNF it, so I skimmed the rest of the story. My main problem was it was told in an expository way and normally if it’s a fantasy novel I would love it, but it wasn’t and I grew so achingly bored. I didn’t care about the entire back-story of these side characters, I didn’t want to stop the momentum of what was happening to Glass by some side character’s past. I grew impatient and decided I couldn’t read at my normal pace, but since this is a review book I wanted to know how the book ended differently than the movie. I actually ended up preferring the movie ending because the book ending was just not my cup of tea. It didn’t have the same grittiness and desperation as the movie. Of course the movie also had his son which was non-existent from the book, so that added another layer of retribution to Hugh Glass’ character.


The book provides incredibly detailed back-stories about each character. All happening before Glass’ arduous journey. The survival aspects are similar to the young adult novel Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. There were some elements like eating snakes, Buffalo bone marrow, Buffalo calf and even dogs that made me a little nauseous. The fight scene with the bear was incredibly well detailed. Obviously there was a ton of scenes and whole chapters cut from the movie, but in the book it works so well. How every problem gets fixed, only to have another one stonewall Glass. It seemed way more realistic.


Whether you watch the movie, or read the book, you’re going to want to delve into Glass’s story of survival and obsession.

movie review


The differences in the movie are vastly different. We have the same main story-line, but obviously in films, there’s only ever going to be one main focus. And that was Glass getting his revenge. The key difference is that Glass is married to a Native American and has a son with her. After being mauled by the grizzly bear, he realizes his son has been murdered by the same men who have left him for dead. And on his journey to recovery, he gathers what’s left of his strong will and determination to survive and seek his revenge.

I loved the grizzly bear scene. It was exactly how Punke wrote it and to see it appear on the screen made it seem so real. The whole time my mouth was probably open. It was gruesome and the sounds were just awful. Knowing that it’s not real is the only thing that kept me from spewing up my lunch. I loved the pacing for the movie too. Glass encounters several people like he did in the book. I also preferred the movie’s ending than the book’s ending. It didn’t seem as open-ended and we finally get closure.


Movies will get rid of all detail because one gets to see everything all once, and the movie becomes a bare-bones plot. Leonardo DiCaprio acted well and I truly believed he deserved his Oscar for that performance. He had hardly any lines, but his facial expressions conveyed every emotion.

book quotes

I am drawn to this endeavor as I have never before drawn to anything in my life. (80)
I won’t pretend to have been his friend, but I respect a man who fights like he fought. (127)
There was something to fear in an evil that could make men leave their old lives behind and live in such disgrace. (132)
Know the stars and you’ll always have a compass. (211)

reading progress


movie trailer





  1. Jason

    January 7, 2017 at 3:32 PM

    Hi Giselle. I agree that the Leonardo DiCaprio acted so well here and expressing all the emotions of the hero․ What do you think about the scene where the hero overnight in the horse? It is not a horse in the book, and whether it breaches credibility of reality?

  2. Sophia Rose

    April 29, 2016 at 7:17 PM

    I was initially interested in this one b/c I like the survival type stories, but got distracted by others. Good to know that it bogs down in the details. 😉
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Guest Author Nicole Helm #GiveawayMy Profile

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