Monday, August 6, 2012

Review: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Blood Red Road (Dust Lands #1)
By Moira Young
Margaret K. McElderry Books

To Sum It Up: Saba’s world has always revolved around her beloved twin brother, Lugh. He’s her greatest strength in an otherwise bleak existence in a cruel environment devastated by drought. When four horsemen appear out of nowhere one day and kidnap Lugh, Saba sets out to find him. She’s determined to go it alone, but unexpected events bring her into the path of some even more unexpected allies. Although she likes to be as independent as possible, Saba comes to realize that having some help with her mission might not be such a bad idea, especially if it increases the odds of finding Lugh. More importantly, Saba learns for the first time the lengths to which friends will go to look out for each other.

Review: Holy moly. If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be intense. Italicize it, capitalize it, even use bold if you like. The action in Blood Red Road is just relentless. This was a very good thing. Never once while reading this book did I wish that the plot would speed up or that the characters would quit talking so much and just get to wherever they needed to go. Although the characters find themselves in an almost nonstop string of perilous situations, I never felt overwhelmed by all of the action and in need of a breather. In fact, this was the best part of the book for me: my attention was constantly engaged, and I kept turning those pages as quickly as I could.

I wasn’t aware of this before I began reading the book (yeah, I live in my own little world most of the time), but Blood Red Road, which is narrated by the main character, Saba, is written in a dialect that would probably drive an English teacher insane. Grammar and punctuation, including quotation marks for the dialogue, take a vacation here. At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to adjust to this writing style, but the story was so powerful that now I can’t imagine it being written any other way. I can see how Saba’s narration might not click with all readers, but I think that if you give it a chance, it quickly becomes secondary to what’s actually happening in the novel.

This was a rare book in which I liked all of the characters (well, the good ones, at least). I’ll get to Saba in a minute, but first I’d like to mention the supporting cast. Saba’s little sister, Emmi, is one tough kid and has the makings of a future heroine herself. She definitely shares her sister’s stubbornness. The Free Hawks, an all-female band of rebels whom Saba teams up with, are too awesome for words. You do not mess with those ladies or their friends unless you want a crossbow aimed at one of your vital organs. And then there’s Jack, the mysterious stranger who also becomes part of Saba’s traveling party. I loved Jack; he’s charming, witty, and enigmatic. I think that the air of intrigue surrounding him is a huge part of his appeal. I really hope that more of his back story is revealed in the next book because I have a feeling that it’s very interesting.

Saba is a kick-ass heroine. There’s no other way to put it. She’s smart, courageous, and determined. She’s also one fierce warrior. Saba’s not the nicest person in the world sometimes and she’s incredibly mulish, but eventually she learns the meaning of friendship and that there’s more to the world than just her twin brother, Lugh. I especially liked how her feelings toward Emmi changed. In the beginning of the book, Saba really resents Emmi and blames her for the loss of their mother, who died giving birth to Emmi. But when the two are captured by the evil Pinches and Saba is forced to become a cage fighter (!), Saba stops at nothing to protect her little sister. Saba is an ideal heroine. Her growth over the course of the novel is impressive, but thankfully, it doesn’t transform her into an unrealistic model of perfection.

I really enjoyed reading Blood Red Road. It’s a gripping, pulse-pounding adventure and a standout among YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels. I’ll most definitely be reading future books in the Dust Lands series.

All in All: I need to thank Ally for placing Blood Red Road on top of the stack of books that I had amassed as we browsed the shelves at the library one day. It was on my TBR list, but I wasn’t going to borrow it then because I already had a decent sized book pile in my arms, plus books still at home. I’m very glad that she convinced me otherwise. Thanks, Ally!


  1. It´s on my wishlist and I should really get it, because it sounds so good! I´m glad you enjoyed (adored) it!

    1. It's such a good book. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I did!

  2. So... I just read, Under the Never Sky, and EVERYONE is comparing it to this book, which I hadnt heard of until then.
    Then I looked it up and saw soo many people mentioning what you mentioned as a English Teachers nightmare- no quotation marks...
    Wait... What? NO Quotation marks??
    It would drive me CRAZY!!!!!
    BUT... all that said, Ive heard the story is AMAZING!
    SO... Im excited to read this now!
    Great review!!!

    1. When I first started reading Blood Red Road, the writing style made me a little nervous. I kept thinking back to my high school English teachers' drills on proper grammar and punctuation. But the story and the characters quickly became the focus of my attention.

      Under the Never Sky was also a fantastic book. I can't wait for that sequel, either!

  3. Great review Lee, Glad you enjoyed it :-). You mentioned the sequel, Rebel Heart, isn't out in the US until October. If you're interested in having a chance to get a copy earlier, that's my current giveaway, as the book was released here last Thursday.

    1. Thanks for letting me know about your giveaway, Katja! I'll definitely have to enter!

  4. I love Blood Red Road too Lee! Now I'm waiting on the sequel Rebel Heart! :) can't wait to read it! Thanks so much for your awesome review!!! :)

    new follower :)

    1. I'm really excited about Rebel Heart! I have a feeling that I'll just buy it instead of waiting for the library to get it. I need to add a copy of Blood Red Road to my shelves, too.

      Thanks for the follow! :)


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