10 Books Like ‘Red Dead Redemption’ | TheReviewGeek Recommends

Exploring A New Frontier

Red Dead Redemption is an epic Western coming straight from the heart of Rockstar Studios. Along with its sequel, this is a rip-roaring, action-packed adventure full of memorable characters and an excellent narrative with poignant themes.

If you’re in the mood for more of the same, fret not! We’ve gathered together 10 books to check out when you’ve finished playing Red Dead Redemption. Of course, if you feel we’ve missed any of your favourites, do comment below and let us know!

Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams

In the 1870’s, Will Andrews, a young East Coast academic, drops out of Harvard and heads west to the small town of Butcher’s Crossing, Kansas. There, he’s drawn into a harrowing buffalo hunt that tests the limits of human endurance and morality.

Butcher’s Crossing explores the harshness of frontier life, depicting the vanishing of the Wild West, and the grim realities behind romanticized notions of the westward expansion. This, of course, parallels themes and settings of Red Dead Redemption and especially in the sequel, which really hammers this home.

True Grit by Charles Portis

After her father’s murder, 14-year-old Mattie Ross hires U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, a man with “true grit,” to track down her killer. Set in the post-Civil War era, this is a tale of vengeance and adventure across the American frontier.

Cogburn’s quest for justice and interactions with morally complex characters echo Arthur Morgan’s own journey through a lawless land where justice is often in the hands of individuals rather than institutions.

All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

John Grady Cole, a young Texan, embarks on a journey to Mexico after the death of his grandfather and the subsequent loss of his ranch. Along with his friend, he encounters love, danger, and profound moral dilemmas.

Themes of love, loss, and the ending of an era, as well as the interplay between U.S. and Mexican cultures, mirror aspects of Red Dead Redemption, particularly in the depiction of a fading Wild West and the impact of encroaching civilization.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

Set deep in the heart of the California Gold Rush, Eli and Charlie Sisters are hired killers on a mission to track down and kill a prospector named Hermann Kermit Warm. Their journey is filled with danger, humor, and introspection.

The quest-driven narrative, set against the backdrop of a changing American West, aligns with the game’s missions in Red Dead. Both the novel and the game deal with complex sibling relationships, moral choices, and the tensions that arise between civilization and the old Wild West.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau’s book chronicles his two-year experience living in a simple cabin built near Walden Pond in Massachusetts. It’s a great read and it’s a reflection on both simple living in natural surroundings and a critique of modern society’s materialism.

While “Walden” is not a Western narrative, that exploration of nature, the “simple life”, and the desire for freedom in the face of overwhelming change mirrors the game’s themes of a closing frontier and the tension between nature and civilization.

Shogun by James Clavell

Set in the 17th century, Shogun is an epic novel that follows English sailor John Blackthorne. He becomes embroiled in the political intrigues of feudal Japan, and as he adapts to a radically different culture, Blackthorne rises in influence and understanding.

That exploration of cultural clashes, a navigation of shifting allegiances, and the transformation of a central character in a hostile, unfamiliar environment certainly parallels Arthur Morgan’s journey in a changing American West setting.

The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock

Set in 1917, this is a darkly comedic novel that follows the Jewett brothers, who, inspired by a dime novel, turn to a life of crime. Their path of violence intersects with various other characters in a tale bound by chaos and destiny.

The criminal odyssey of the brothers, the gritty and sometimes humorous portrayal of life on the margins, and an exploration of the gap between reality and romanticized tales of outlaw life align with Red Dead’s narrative and themes.

Wraiths of the Broken Land by S. Craig Zahler

Wraiths of the Broken Land is a brutal Western, depicting a father and his two sons as they set out to rescue their kidnapped sisters/daughters from a brothel in Mexico. The story delves into the depths of human cruelty and the lengths to which people will go for those they love.

The intense, often violent quest for justice and retribution in a lawless landscape, as well as the close-knit bonds of family and loyalty, certainly mirrors Red Dead Redemption’s core themes and narrative arcs.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Another Cormac McCarthy novel (because they really are that damn good!) Blood Meridian is set in the 1850’s, chronicling the brutal exploits of the Glanton gang, a band of Indian-hunters on the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

The narrative is both a violent historical epic and a reflection on the nature of violence itself, making for an incredible read.

 The brutal portrayal of frontier violence, moral ambiguity, and the stark landscapes in which characters operate mirror the game’s darker elements and its depiction of the often ruthless nature of frontier life.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Former Texas Rangers Woodrow Call and Augustus McCrae are the main protagonists here, and the story sees them embark on a dangerous journey to drive cattle from Texas to Montana. Along the way, the pair face numerous challenges and reflect on their past adventures and choices.

That epic journey across the American West, not to mention the camaraderie and conflicts among a diverse group of characters, echoes the game’s sprawling narrative and the complexities of its characters’ relationships.

These are just a few books that will give you the vibe and feel of the Red Dead Redemption games. What did you think of the list? Have you read any of these books before? Or are we missing a must-read novel? Comment below and let us know!

You can read more of our book reviews and articles here! 

Leave a comment