Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 5558
Beautiful Writing for a Harsh World
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
At the beginning, Blood Red Road reads like poetry. A harsh poetry, but suited to the story's environment. Saba and her brother, Lugh, live with their Pa and younger sister, Emmi, in a harsh desert landscape far from any other civilization. When four hooded horsemen steal Lugh away and kill Pa in the process, Saba is determined to fetch him back whatever the cost. Forced to take Emmi, the sister she never cared for, along for the ride, Saba's determination is stretched to the limits. First, when misplaced trusts lands her as a slave in a world of cage fighting, and still more when she learns the reason her brother was kidnapped at all. Saba goes from a solitary world in which she cares for nothing but her brother, to a world full of ugly characters who will use or kill her, whichever suits them best. Thankfully, she also meets a group of freedom fighters who share her warrior spirit, and one young man in particular, Jack, who always seems to find his way into her business. She'll need all their help in the end if she's going to save her brother. Their help, and her own stubborn courage.

A lot of people have compared this to The Hunger Games, and I can see why. Saba will go to any lengths to save her brother (Katniss threw herself into the Hunger Games for her sister), even to the point of fight-to-the-death sequences in a post-apocalyptic world. These are significant similarities, but that's about where they stop. The setting, for one thing, has the wasted, dry feel of The Book of Eli - so much so that my vision of the book was tinted in the same sepia of the film, and the town Saba is stuck cage fighting in looked not inconsiderably like the one Gary Oldman ruled over. Saba is fiercer than Katniss by a long shot; Katniss thinks more, while Saba follows her warrior instinct. Katniss also fears, and Saba just gets angry. They're very different people, and they make for very different books.

The wonderfulest thing about Blood Red Road is that the ending sets itself up very nicely for a sequel, but the story itself doesn't rely on it. If Moira Young is happy with this book all by itself, she doesn't need to pick up the pen for a sequel. Which makes the waiting period so much easier as her readers. Of course, we want a sequel. There's Jack for one thing, who is left with business to attend to, and there's the burning question of DeMalo, who has us all wondering what he'll do next - and why. And we would like to spend more time with the other characters, and it's obvious there's a whole lot more unexplored territory to this half-wasted landscape. I've heard very little about the sequel so far, but I'm gratified that there will be one. And yes, I'll be reading it. As stories go, this is a very, very good example of YA literature. As writing goes, this is as good as it gets.
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