blog about reviews writing

Monday, August 13, 2012

Blood Red Road (Dustlands #1) by Moira Young

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, violent action, and an epic love story. Moira Young is one of the most promising and startling new voices in teen fiction.

Released: June 7, 2011          Pages: 459
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books    Source: Library

(Note: I was going to publish this review a few weeks ago, but somehow it never got scheduled.  That's why I'm just posting it now.)
First Look: ***** Ever since this came out, I've heard nothing short of amazing reviews of this.  I read the pitch several times, but it never caught my attention like the reviews did.  And I've learned that a person can only listen to their Goodreads friends rant about something for so long until you just can't help but get it.  So, I picked this up.

Setting: ***** I liked the setting.  It was a good setup for the rest of the novel. Where the land was desolate and hopeless, so was Saba's situation. It's a bit hard to have a rather bleak storyline in a place full of green, flowery pastures and frolicking bunnies.

My problem was that I didn't know why it was a dystopia.  I was handed a desperate, messed-up place, but the author never told me why it was so messed-up.  I wanted more backstory on it.  This is a huge issue for many writers of dystopian fiction--I'll probably have to post on this later.

Characters: ***** Saba was prickly and hard to like, and yet...I liked her.  I felt for her.  I loved the simplicity of her motivations--she wanted her brother back, and she was going to do whatever it takes to get him.  Anything else was just leading her to that point.  I love it when characters have single-minded desires like this, because if done well, they make for a really focused plot, and they allow the reader to really care about the story itself.  Don't get me wrong--I love a good, tangled, complicated mess of plotlines and motivations, but simple is also nice once and awhile. 

I liked Jack, too.  I liked how he interacted with Saba, and...I like his cover, for the sequel.  Ahem.  Anyway, though, I liked the other characters, too, though I liked Saba the most.

paperback cover
Plot: ***** The plot was compelling.  It grew in complexity as the story progressed, and the stakes went from high to higher.  I think the main reason why it was so compelling lies again in the simplicity of what Saba wants.  She wants to rescue Lugh.  Everything else just goes along with that.  Because of this, she wastes no time in going after him.  The plot keeps moving, and I kept turning the pages.

Uniqueness: ****
The idea of a dystopic wasteland with a greedy and/or tyrannical king/government has been overused and abused, but Moira Young balances this out with her unique characters and writing style.
Writing: ***** The writing style took some getting used to.  For those of you who don't know, the entire thing is written in Saba's dialect.  There are deliberate misspellings.  There are also no quotation marks.

Now, I can handle deliberate misspellings, as long as they're reasonable and make sense.  I don't know what the point of omitting quotation marks was, other than to be different.  That aspect bothered me a bit.  And I did find at least two typos.

 Overall, though, the writing style worked for the book.  It gave it a raw, emotional edge.  Somehow, the "unedited" writing made the whole book more gritty and intense.  The author kept the style consistent, making it seem very real.

Likes: Jack

Not-so-great: Nothing specific.

Overall: I liked this quite a bit.  It had a premise that could've been boring and cliche, or intense and emotional.  Fortunately, it went more towards the latter.  I liked the characters, like Saba and Jack and Emmi.  The writing style was unique, and though it bothered me in places, it really made the book.  I didn't think this was the amazingly splendid pile of awesomeness that many of my Goodreads friends seem to think this is, but I still liked it.  Even if I do feel like I'm in the minority by only giving it four stars.  Recommended for fans of dystopian books, or books with unique writing styles.

post signature


  1. I actually really liked the fact the we didn't know how the world got to be that way. Because it's realistic. If the character doesn't know, than the reader shouldn't either :P

    1. That's a good pont, Gwen. I hadn't thought of it that way. :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...