Blood Red Road (Dust Lands #1)

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4.7
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4.8  (16)
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4.8  (16)
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Amazing!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Exhilarating. That's the perfect word for Blood Red Road. It's impossible to put down and just as hard to forget. It's a powerful mix of emotion and adventure that left me absolutely speechless. What Saba went through to get her brother back... wow. She went through Hell and back, scarred and bleeding, so mad that steam came out her ears. (Note to self: never mess with twins). Nothing could stop her. She was like a hurricane raising havoc everywhere she went. Stand in her way and she'll knock you unconscious for a couple of days. And nothing but her brother's life meant anything to her. (Her little sister was sort of a string-along for a while)
What kept me glued to this book was the intimate tone that connected me to Saba. It felt like I knew her my entire life. I knew what she was scared of, and why she got angry so quickly, and why she disliked her little sister. I knew how her mind worked and what everything looked like through her eyes. It was... weird, because I've never encountered a book like this one before, but it was really cool at the same time. I loved every second of it.
The next best thing was Jack. (Insert dreamy sigh) He's Stephenie Meyer's Edward Cullen, Suzanne Collins's Peeta, Cassandra Clare's Jace, and Lauren Oliver's Alex all rolled into one. That boy was trouble from the start, but oh man was he worth it. Saba drove him crazy, and yet he stayed by her side throughout the entire journey, through thick and thin. He almost died for her plenty of times. With his endless charm and wit, Jack stole my heart. He's easily one of the top ten swoon-worthy YA guys ever.
His relationship with Saba took a while until it reached a climax, but there was a sexual tension building between them that fueled my anticipation. Sometimes I found myself shouting at the book 'Make out already!', and when they finally did, it lasted about a paragraph. It was quick, but romance wasn't the main point in the book, so I actually liked it. It wasn't a let down and I didn't get bored with them. I'm eager for the next kiss now.
The diction in the book is strange. It's written in a Saba's slang-ish language. It reminds me of Huckleberry Finn, but this is more futuristic. It's not hard to read, and it strengthens the connection to the main character. I found it refreshing more than anything else.
Overall, I was floored with fascination. I loved how the main character was far from perfect. I loved the thrilling atmosphere of the book. I loved the gruesome journey itself. And, of course, I loved Jack :)
I highly recommend Blood Red Road to anyone who loves a enrapturing dystopian read.
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Better than The Hunger Games - which I love
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
"To escape, she will have to fight. To survive, she will have to lead."

I’d heard about this series from a few of the authors I follow on Twitter who’d tweeted about it a month or so ago. Of course I wanted to know what they’re reading, so I looked it up at Barnes & Noble.com. Several things drew me in: the two-line hook above, it was likened to The Hunger Games Trilogy, which I loved, and the cover, which even without the telling series header of "Dust Lands" lets you know that there’s a wasteland and seemingly insurmountable odds happening in this book, sort of a YA "Mad Max" with a female protagonist. I love that combination. Add in the summary of a young woman who must set off on her own through unknown territory to rescue her twin brother, well, that made this book irresistible to me.

Despite, or maybe partly because of Young’s unconventional use of dialect and lack of dialogue tags (quotations), this book sucked me in right away. It quickly became as addictive as my daily caffeine habit.

Eighteen-year-old Saba is dedicated to her twin Lugh to the exclusion of everything – and everyone – else. Her whole world revolves around him. He was born two hours before Saba, defining their relationship. She describes the two of them succinctly: "Lugh goes first, always first, an I follow on behind. An that’s fine. That’s right. That’s how it’s meant to be…He’s my light. I’m his shadow." So it’s not surprising that when Lugh is captured by four men in long black robes and leather body armor, and their father killed while trying to prevent the kidnapping, Saba sets off in search of him, undaunted by the unknown, intending to leave their nine-year-old sister, Emmi, in the care of a family friend named Mercy. Saba resents Emmi, whom she blames for their mother’s death in childbirth. Mercy tells Saba about the Tonton, the men who kidnapped Lugh, and the dangers of Hopetown, where Saba believes Lugh’s been taken. Mercy also gives her a heartstone, which had belonged to Saba’s mother, and tells her that it will lead Saba to her heart’s desire. The closer she gets to what she desires, the hotter it will become.

But Emmi refuses to be left behind. She catches up to Saba, who is furious with her, especially when having to look after Emmi gets them captured and Saba sold as a cage fighter, while Emmi is held captive against Saba’s cooperation.
Saba discovers the "red hot" that allows her to survive. "…the red hot kicks in an at last I unnerstand what it is. It’s like animals. A animal will do anythin to live. Even chew off its own leg if it’s caught in a trap. That’s the red hot. An I’m gonna hafta learn to use it if I wanna survive in the Cage."

Within a month, the populace of Hopetown has dubbed Saba "The Angel of Death." She’s never lost a fight and is kept segregated from the other female fighters. She meets Epona, a fighter of her own caliber and the first real hope for escape. Epona is a member of the Free Hawks, a band of female warriors, and their leader, Maeve, partners with Saba to free all the cage fighters, rescue Emmi, and escape Hopetown. While planning their move, Saba meets Jack, a fighter on the boys’ side, who stirs unfamiliar feelings within Saba, and makes her heartstone burn, something it’s never done before.

It soon becomes apparent that Emmi doesn’t just favor Saba in looks, she’s also Saba’s mirror in personality, writ small. Though Emmi is a captive herself, she manages to pass messages between Saba and Maeve, and aids in the coup that sets the Cage and Hopetown afire. Literally. When Saba once again attempts to leave Emmi behind, this time with the Free Hawks, Jack intervenes. He’s decided to accompany Saba to Freedom Fields where Lugh is being held, and stubbornly insists that Emmi must come too.

When they reach Freedom Fields, Jack, Saba, Emmi and their friends must face the Tonton, who serve the mad king who has declared that Lugh – a boy of eighteen years born at Midwinter – must die to rejuvenate his majesty. Upon rescuing Lugh, Saba and Jack discover that Emmi has been captured by the Tonton. Fortunately, the sisters’ relationship has evolved from mutual hostility into friendship and Saba is just as determined to rescue Emmi as she was to rescue Lugh.

Colors and shades play major roles in this novel. The black of the Tonton’s uniforms, the soft pink of Saba’s heartstone, Jack’s moonlit eyes, Lugh’s light, Saba and Emmi’s dark. And the red hot that fills Saba when she fights. The red hot changes Saba, tempers her obstinate personality while sharpening her survival skills.

Saba is a heroine to be reckoned with. If you loved The Hunger Games, you’ll adore the Dust Lands series. Blood Red Road is so much grittier, starker and hopeful than The Hunger Games. Dust Lands series is the next big thing in the YA Dystopian realm.
Good Points
The writing, Saba, Jack, Emmi, Nero the crow, the setting.
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Blood Red Road
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
To say that Blood Red Road is an underhyped, undervalued, and underappreciated piece of post-apocalyptic fiction is a massive understatement. I picked this book out of a list of 5 titles (for a buddy read), not really knowing what I was getting into and more interested in bookish discussion than the book itself. But within twenty pages, Moira Young had me hooked.

Like A.C. Gaughen’s Scarlet (one of my favorite 2012 debut novels), Blood Red Road is narrated by the protagonist using vernacular—a rough, uneducated style of speech that goes far in showing who Saba is and how her life has been lived. At eighteen, Saba is illiterate, has never left the wastelands where she was born, and has only seen three or four other people besides her immediate family. After the parade of special snowflake protagonists who populate young adult fiction, I found Saba to be a welcome change. She is very flawed, especially in regards to her relationship with her younger sister, Emmi, but she’s fierce, often violent, knows how to win a fight, doesn’t let romance dictate her actions, and, in the end, admits to her mistakes. Maybe I didn’t connect with Saba too much, and maybe she could have used a bit more oomph. But I thought she was just about perfect for this story, and I loved her narration.

Saba aside, I was also extremely impressed with the way the entirety Blood Red Road was motivated by family and the characters’ willingness to make sacrifices and put themselves in danger to preserve family ties. That was a huge thing for me. Toward the beginning of the novel, Saba’s twin brother Lugh is taken captive by a bunch of horsemen. So she’s stuck with their nine-year-old sister, Emmi, who she doesn’t like and has a terrible relationship with. Saba knows she needs to take care of her sister, but since Lugh is her reason for living, she can’t just write him off. So she leaves Emmi behind and goes after him…but Emmi won’t be left behind.

From there, it was wonderful to watch the developing relationship between the two sisters. Saba has resented Emmi all her life, really for reasons that Emmi couldn’t control. And Emmi, who’s never been treated kindly by her older sister, has gotten to be rather bitter. As they journey out of the wasteland into the corrupted and disgusting remnants of human civilization, they form a bond. And as Saba ventures further and further out of her comfort zone, she meets new people—some less trustworthy than others—and learns finally to value herself not as her brother Lugh’s lesser shadow, but as a strong and capable woman in her own right.

I do have to say a quick thing on the romance advertised in the blurb. Jack the character doesn’t come in until later on in the book, and not once, ever, does Moira Young give the developing relationship between him a Saba center-stage. That aspect was just not important in the grand scheme of things, and I think the whole situation shows the blurb-writer’s capitulation to the idea that teens only want to read about kissing. Yes, Jack was a likable love interest, well-matched to Saba. But that wasn’t even for an instant the most important thing going on in Blood Red Road.

As far as plot construction goes, I liked this quite a bit. Young is a good writer, she keeps reader engagement high, and she did manage to surprise me at a few points, simply because she was good at distracting me, just as Saba was distracted. I must confess that I’m surprised that there’s a sequel in the works, since I don’t think it’s necessary that the characters or the story continue in future installments. But that’s just me.

I think that readers who claim that Tris Prior and her buddies are “kickass” protagonists ought to make the acquaintance of Saba. Readers who are looking for well-rounded characters, gripping and action-intensive plot, and a unique setting should read Blood Red Road. For a book that I didn’t expect much out of, I definitely got my money’s worth.
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Exciting!
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
*may contain spoilers*

LOCATION:
Who knows?! This is dystopian fiction. All I remember is that the place where the main character lived in is dusty and all dried up, like the Sahara. But then, there is a frequent change of the location in the book because the main character travels so much in search for her twin brother.

MAIN CHARACTERS:
Of course there is Saba. She is amazing in every way. At first she was this girl always trailing behind her brother. She made a complete turn-around at the end of the book. There's Jack, the love interest. Jack is secretive, resourceful, protective, and insanely hot. I loved that he lets Saba do her thing, gives her the freedom to be whatever she needs to be, and is isn't threatened by it. He loves the fact that Saba is a strong giril. The relationship between Saba and Jack is confusing, though. There was a part in the book when Jack was pining for Saba. Then a few chapters more, Jack hated Saba. Forward a few more chapters, Saba was kissing Jack. Gives life to the status, "it's complicated."

WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:
Long story short, Saba goes through scary things to look for her brother, who was kidnapped by the Horsemen. The character went through some sort of slavery / gladiator / refugee kind of thing in the book.

LOVE:
I loved it when the woman shaved Saba's hair to prepare her to be some sort of girl gladiator. From that point, Saba's character changed. She became stronger and more determined to find her brother Lugh. Her character transformed from being a mere follower to a respected leader.

NO LOVE:
The way the book was written. If it weren't for the delicious story, I would have stopped reading at page one. But that's the thing! The story is just so damned good, you won't be able to stop.

FAVORITE CHARACTER:
I like Saba. She is just so determined, it's inspiring. I actually want to be her sometimes. She reminds me of Katniss, but Jack (oh, Jack!) is sure no Peeta.

FAVORITE LINE:
Oh I’m warm blooded. Jack grins. Anyways, Saba likes to look at my bare chest.
Lugh looks at me. Frowns. Is that a fact? he says.

MUSINGS:
Again, I hated the way the story was written. There were a lot of time when I just had to read passages several times just to get through all that wrong grammar and spelling. Eyesore galore. And again, the book is really engaging. It's somehow similar to the Hunger Games in that Saba is like Katniss - girl power through and through. They are also in the midst of oppression by their King (who, for some reason was depicted as King Louis XIV of France).

CONTENT REVIEW:
profanity: mild (if you can get through the writing-style)
violence: moderate
sexual content: mild
mature themes: mild
age recommendation: 13+

RATING:
Cover: 1.5
Plot: 3.5
Writing: 1.5
Characters: 4.0
Ending: 3.5
Overall Rating: 3.0 - Very Good (89% - 92%)
Good Points
*spoilers*

LOVE:
I loved it when the woman shaved Saba's hair to prepare her to be some sort of girl gladiator. From that point, Saba's character changed. She became stronger and more determined to find her brother Lugh. Her character transformed from being a mere follower to a respected leader.
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I liked it.
(Updated: March 20, 2014)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
The book was pretty good. The protagonist made this book really enjoyable. Saba's all back hair, eyes, and take no stuff personality. She's also called The Angel of Death from her cage fighting days. What's there not to like? She's a tough 16 year old girl w/ a pet crow, harbors a unhealthy brother-complex, & crazy about an older silver eyed dude named Jack.

The only thing I could borderline take was the writing style, but the old south writing style did make you feel closer to Saba. Another thing I liked was the foreshadowing. It was a major key to the next book. The ending though a bit cliche, the ending paved a good start for the next book. I also respect the author for being timely on the series releases. I can't tell you how many times Iv'e been through pushed back released days. The most Iv'e waited was 12 months! Anyway, the book had the ideal points I was looking for such as romance, supernatural, mild angst, and a tough lead. I highly recommend.

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Good Story, Disliked Writing Style
Overall rating 
 
2.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
1.0
This review can also be found at http://fortheloveofbooksreviews.blogspot.ca/2016/09/blood-red-road-by-moira-young.html


Saba lives with her father, her brother Lugh, and her sister Emmi. Their home is in Silverlake, where they live alone beside a drying-out lake and face sandstorms regularly. When Lugh is taken by strange men on horseback, Saba vows to rescue him and she starts on a journey to get him back.

But her journey is anything but smooth, and she must face harsh weather, dangerous creatures and people with evil intentions. With the help of some friends along the way, she's hopeful to get Lugh back before anything happens to him. But what if she doesn't make it in time?

I feel a bit conflicted over this book. There were some things that I liked, but the things that I didn't like are quite significant and affected my reading experience greatly. I hate giving books a low rating, but I can't find any way to justify rating this over a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

So the best thing about this book was the story. I loved the concept of a dystopian wasteland and the thing that really kept me reading was the events and struggles that Saba faced, and the hope that she would find her brother. I had trouble putting this book down because I wanted to hurry up and read it to find out what happened to Lugh, I wanted to see if she would save him.

Saba's journey was an interesting one, filled with fights and scheming and making new friends. However, while I enjoyed the story, I can't say that I enjoyed the book itself.

The big issue for me was the writing style. The author decided not to use punctuation such as quotation marks when someone was talking, so that made for some confusion when there was a conversation between several people. I'd have to go back and read the page over to make sure I knew who was saying what. Sometimes I couldn't tell if something was being said out loud, or only in Saba's head.

To add to the confusion was the deliberate misspelling of words to convey an accent or style of speaking. I understand wanting the reader to know what Saba sounds like, but this along with the lack of proper punctuation just added more confusion. I get that the author was probably trying to make her book unique, trying to make Saba seem more real and genuine, however it didn't work for me.

I felt a bit distanced from the events that took place. In many books I feel like I'm actually there with the characters, and I find that makes a story all the better. But I felt more like just a spectator in this one, and I found that disappointing. If not for my interest in the ending, I probably wouldn't have continued reading past the first one hundred pages.

Overall, a unique read with a great concept, but the writing style didn't work for me.

Fans of futuristic and dystopian novels may like this. If you like action-packed stories and the writing style doesn't seem like it would bother you, I think it would be worth a try.
Good Points
Great story
Interesting setting
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