Monday, May 27, 2013

Review - Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Blood Red Road (Dustlands #1)
By Moira Young
459 pages
Published by Margaret K McElderry Books, 2011
Source: Scholastic Book Fair
Buy: Amazon - BN - Book Depository

Goodreads Description:
This fast-paces YA debut novel has it all: smart, savvy characters making their way through an eerily dystopian society, with all the requisite action, adventure and romance characteristics of the genre vividly and at times, chillingly portrayed.
In a wild and lawless future, where life is cheap and survival is hard, eighteen-year-old Saba lives with her father, her twin brother Lugh, her young sister Emmi and her pet crow Nero. Theirs is a hard and lonely life. The family resides in a secluded shed, their nearest neighbour living many miles away and the lake, their only source of water and main provider of food, gradually dying from the lack of rain. But Saba's father refuses to leave the place where he buried his beloved wife, Allis, nine years ago. Allis died giving birth to Emmi, and Saba has never forgiven her sister for their mother's death. But while she despises Emmi, Saba adores her twin brother Lugh. Golden-haired and blue-eyed, loving and good, he seems the complete opposite of dark-haired Saba, who is full of anger and driven by a ruthless survival instinct. To Saba, Lugh is her light and she is his shadow, he is the day, she the nighttime, he is beautiful, she is ugly, he is good, she is bad. 
So Saba's small world is brutally torn apart, when a group of armed riders arrives five day's after the twin's eighteenth birthday, snatch Lugh away. Saba's rage is so wild, that she manages to drive the men away, but not before they have captured Lugh and killed their father. 
And here begins Saba's epic quest to rescue Lugh, during which she is tested by trials she could not have imagined, and one that takes the reader on breathtaking ride full of romance, physical adventure, and unforgettably vivid characters, making this a truly sensational YA debut novel.

My Review:

Blood Red Road was a beautiful dystopian novel - an enchanting and daunting landscape, vivid and emotional characters, as well as a unique writing style. Moira Young delivers.

Following Saba on her quest to rescue her twin brother, Lugh, she becomes rapidly exposed to the dangers and terrors of her world. She meets people and sees things she’d never heard of when living in isolation with her father, brother, and younger sister. Saba was the perfect shadow to Lugh as a child, but after their eighteenth birthday, he is taken from her. Now Saba has to follow him across a rough landscape filled with even rougher people in order to rescue him. Only now, she has a shadow – her little sister Emmi, whom she hates. This story is brimming with adventure. It has an old, Western-style vibe, but with futuristic, dystopian elements. It was honestly such a good read!

I loved the adventure in this book. It is gritty and terrifying and sometimes just repulsive, but I felt it. I felt the fear, the desperation, and red-hot anger that Young wrote about. I was enchanted with the setting and my curiosity raved over the Wreckers. Young doesn’t go into detail about how this bleak future came to be, but clues allow the reader to imagine it all on his own. Wreckers – its not a new idea, certainly, but I loved the way Young played on the idea of self-demolition. This dystopian is imaginative and flexible enough for readers to be coaxed into it from the first page.

I was also very fond of the characters. I think Saba makes a good feminine hero, and her transformation throughout the novel is inspired. Saba doesn’t just become tougher throughout the novel, but she changes too; she’s more mature, wiser. I have to say though, Emmi was my favorite character. Written from the viewpoint of Saba, Emmi is just the annoying, useless (and slow) little sister. Emmi becomes a wild, loyal, and insightful girl by the end of the novel. Although only nine, she proves herself as a true heroine. I was just as amused with characters such as Ike, Tommo, and Jack. Them with Saba made an interesting team. A very dynamic group indeed, and all with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Also, the strong emphasis on family among all the characters, both blood family and adopted family was fantastic and really set this book apart from other dystopian novels. And I can't leave out that readers will be satisfied with Saba's love interest, Jack. The story stays away from love triangles for the most part, which was a huge relief. Also, Jack and Saba's relationship isn't emphasized throughout the story, but does give the story an extra balance, a new relationship for Saba to explore. I think the romance aspect was well written, but my favorite is still the adventure. 

Lastly, I thought the writing style was very creative.  I think it’s important for a writer to try something new as long as it fits with the essence of the story, and Young’s style was impressive. At first, the unique character accents drove me nuts. I couldn’t seem to produce those sounds in my head. But then I got it, and it flowed so perfectly. It gave the whole story a unique feel, and I felt like I belonged in it as well since I that language was what I was reading – it wasn’t just part of the character, but the story.
In fact, character voice wasn’t really defined beyond Saba’s, since the book was written from her point of view. No quotations were used to identify speaker, but I think this really helped with the flow of the book as well as put the reader in the perspective of Saba. The less punctuation, the less distracting the actual text is. Young’s on to something here. Also, there were no chapter markings, which helped with the flow of the story even more.

I thought this story was very imaginative and intriguing. I was very fond of Saba and the rest of the character’s development set in Young’s dystopian future. The landscape is very creative as well as the way it was used (a land ship for instance). The voice throughout the novel was engaging and welcoming to the story, although it may seem off setting at first and take some time to read it through smoothly. Also, Saba has a pet crow and that made me jealous. 

I give this a four out of five foxes. 

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