Author: Moira Young
Publication Date: 6/7/11
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Blurb (GR): 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.
This book is not going to be out until June, so I feel very lucky for having had an opportunity to read it so early. I hope it will get enough promo buzz over the next few months to reach tons of readers, because Blood Red Road very much deserves it. It is a stand-out in the new crop of dystopian/post-apocalyptic YA fiction, most of which is crap.
The novel is basically an adventure quest set in a distant post-apocalyptic future. Saba's twin brother Lugh is kidnapped in front of her eyes. Why and where he is taken, Saba doesn't know, but she is determined to do everything she can to find and rescue him. Obstacles and adventures are ahead of her.
I quite liked Saba. There is a bit of Katniss Everdeen in her - that familiar determination, stubbornness, strength, charisma and heightened survival instincts. In fact, Blood Red Road is a celebration of girl power. You will not see a single limp damsel in distress in this novel. Women here, regardless of their age, are strong and self-reliant and, surprisingly, they don't waste their time on trying to prove they have balls to the men around them by wearing pants and rejecting everything feminine. They simply are women and they kick ass. No gender politics and struggles here. Very refreshing.
What else is great about the book it the writing style. I am guessing it will be a hit or miss with the readers. Saba lives in a world where almost all traces of civilization are gone. She can't read or write, so her narrating style consists of abrupt, grammatically-incorrect sentences. Somehow it adds character to Saba's voice and urgency to the story itself. The pacing of this novel is fast and it is never boring.
On the other hand, I agree with other reviewers who think the first part of the novel is stronger than the second. Very true. The first half is intense and suspenseful, colored by Saba's single desire to save her brother. The second half is still well-paced, but is diluted by rather predictable plot twists and formulaic romantic back and forth. Although I won't be complaining about romance for too long. I would have been upset if there was none and the main male squeeze is a cool, likable dude. Sufficiently hot make-out sessions were greatly appreciated as well.
All in all, I am left with a feeling that the beginning of the novel indicated that the book would be something more ambitious, something more important and meaningful. What it is is a well-written, fast paced adventure-type commercial teen fiction which is not such a bad thing IMO.
Blood Red Road might not be my favorite book in the dystopian/post-apocalyptic genre, but it is definitely one of the better ones. I look forward to reading the next two books in this promising new trilogy.