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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Rebel Heart (Dust Lands #2) by Moira Young

It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba's world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh's freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads of danger and destiny, betrayal and passion.

Released: August 2nd 2012                      Pages: 424
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books   Source: Library

Again, here is another example of me being horrible at getting around to reading sequels.  I read Blood Red Road in the summer of 2012, and I liked it, but...I don't even know.  Rebel Heart just wasn't on my radar since then, for some reason.  Part of it has to do with my book acquisition and reading style, though.  For example, my brother has to read a series back-to-back.  He's been known to not read books because the series hasn't all been released yet.  I can't pass up a shiny new release and wait that long.  That just isn't going to happen.  A friend of mine will get the entire series from the library at once and read them straight through, but I can't get more than the first book on one trip.  I plan library trips carefully, and why am I going to get the second two books in a trilogy if there's a possibility I'll hate the first?

Anyway, you probably didn't come here to read about my reading habits.  Which is okay.  I don't know why you'd care.

Rebel Heart carries the same intensity and rawness of Blood Red Road.  There's enough action and suspense to keep those pages turning.  There's a sweet yet troubled romance to add a softer side.  There's grit and adventure, and the ominous governing force at work in almost every YA dystopian novel.  There's an ending that leaves you wanting the sequel.

While all of these aspects are important parts of the novel, they aren't where its true beauty lies.  Moira Young's true talent is in taking a not-unfamiliar dystopian plot structure and making it incredibly personal for the main character, Saba.  And, by extension, the reader.  Saba has some desire to create a better world out of her ravaged homeland, but it's not her true focus.  At heart, all she wants is to keep her family safe and together, and to be with Jack.  Which just so happen to be the hardest things to accomplish.  This makes it so much easier to connect to Saba, even though she's prickly and hardened.  The focus is not on some overarching rebellion that is so large the reader can't take it all in; it's in things everyone knows.  Family, loneliness, love.

Moira Young makes all this seem personal with her unique writing style.  It's perhaps the main thing that makes this book stand out.  Saba is uneducated, and the narration reads like her speech.  It's messy and incorrect.  Instead of making it difficult to read, though, it just makes it seem rougher around the edges, which is exactly what Saba is like.  It does take some getting used to, but it's not difficult.  My only problem is with the lack of quotation marks around dialogue--this is a stylistic choice that I don't understand, and every so often, it threw me off.

Much of this book involves traveling, and that got a little slow.  I was never flat-out bored, but every so often I found myself wishing for a change of pace.  Also, the story tended to introduce multiple side characters all at once, making it hard to keep track of them all.  Still, neither of these issues prevented me from enjoying this.  It's not perfect, but I love how raw and gritty it is.  It's honest, and doesn't shy away from anything: Saba's conflicted emotions, the impact of a horrible past, the harsh reality of living in a dystopian environment.  This time, I'll try to not wait two years before reading the next book.
Similar Books: It's a dystopian novel that focuses on a sister relationship like The Hunger Games.  It's gritty like Ship Breaker and its companion The Drowned Cities, Railsea, and The Knife of Never Letting Go.

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