Blood Red Road (Dust Lands #1)FeaturedHot
Eighteen year old Saba has spent her entire life at Silverlake with her twin brother Lugh (pronounced "Lou") her Pa and nine year old sister "Emmi". It's a hard life in the dusty wasteland although not a bad one. She's happiest when she's with Lugh, her golden brother with his blond hair and eyes as blue as the sky. (Everyone says Saba's the night to Lugh's day with her black hair and dark eyes.) Saba and Lugh do everything together, always have since before they were born. She can't imagine living her life without him around or living anywhere but Silverlake, however, she could do without her pesky little sister Emmi.
Emmi's always bugging Saba and she often sends her off to help their Pa who hasn't been the same since their Ma's been gone. Seems he always has his head stuck in the clouds, muttering about what's written in the stars. Pa believes everyone's life has a plan and a purpose that's already been determined for them and says he can see it but he doesn't share what he's seen for Saba and Lugh. Lugh thinks their Pa is crazy and wants nothing more than to get out of Silverlake. Saba? She doesn't know what to believe. She just knows she likes having her family together.
When a dust storm rolls in fast and fierce one afternoon, it brings with it five cloaked men who turn Saba's world upside down when they take off with Lugh. She's determined to go after Lugh, to bring him back and make the men who took him pay. Having never been outside of Silverlake, Saba is thrust into a violent world where laws only apply to a select few and the danger is unlike any she's ever experienced before.
On her journey to rescue Lugh, Saba will learn some hard lessons about people, life and herself. She discovers she's stronger than she ever knew she could be, a true warrior. She'll also find she has room in heart for someone other than Lugh which both surprises and scares her.
Hopetown is where she thinks the cloaked men, or Tonton have taken Lugh and it's there that Saba meets Jack, a cage fighter with a bad rep but one she can't seem to get away from. She's drawn to him and he to her and it makes her crazy! He's cocky, infuriating, irritating, helpful, funny, beautiful and wiling to help her find Lugh. (See how he could drive a girl insane?)
She also meets the Free Hawks, a gang of girl rebels who are bad ars! They too agree to help her find Lugh, although their leader warns Saba not to trust Jack, and what starts out as a simple rescue plan quickly morphs into something that could change the course of their world forever.
In order to accomplish her mission, get Lugh back and reunite her family, Saba will have to rely on the help of her new found friends, trusting them with her family, her life and with one of them, her heart.
Blood Red Road is a story full of action and adventure but it's also a story about love and not just the romantic kind. Saba is a girl whose love for her family knows no boundaries and she literally goes to the ends of her earth, enduring serious physical and emotional trials to try and save her brother. One of her biggest struggles is in allowing herself to be vulnerable, not just with Jack but with the Free Hawks as well. For her, to be vulnerable is to be weak.
Saba also can't see her worth, having always been told that Lugh was the "golden boy" she's believed that meant she was the lesser, uglier twin, and she's genuinely surprised when Jack tells her that she's beautiful. She has a fear of abandonment too which makes it difficult for her to get close to others. Why should she when once she has Lugh back everyone else will go their separate ways?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Saba is a tough character to love. She's stubborn, fierce as all get out, and witty too. In other words, a recipe for my perfect female character. However her stubborn attitude more often than not causes her to make very rash decisions. I'll fully admit that there were multiple times I wanted to reach in and just slap her for a moment. I understood why Moira Young created her this way though. Saba is used to having to take care of herself. She's used to being a lone wolf.
That is, of course, until she meets Jack. Ah, Jack. Witty, lovable, and sometimes completely lost Jack. He was definitely my favorite character. The perfect opposite to everything that Saba was. Their relationship was rocky, it was real, it was amazing! All work and no play makes Saba a dull girl. Good thing Jack was around! Seriously though, every single character that travels alongside these two shines off the page. They are so well-crafted, that it is hard not to find yourself rooting for them as you read.
What else can I say to make you pick up this book? Refreshingly, Blood Red Road is unlike a lot of other dystopian novels out there. Instead of focusing solely on a society, with a bit of characterization thrown in, Young's book is all about the characters. You'll find yourself beside them as they fight to survive, tackle problems thrown in their path, and wrestle with the age old question of who they really are. It seems odd that this would work so well, but it honestly does. I was able to get so lost in Saba's world, that I honestly didn't want to come back out.
At the end of the day, if you are a reader of dystopian fiction this is a book that you're going to need to pick up. The twists and turns in the plot will delight you. The fierce, dogged pace of the story will make you feel like you're on the brink of exhaustion. Then you'll meet the characters and realize that there is no turning back. Moira Young did a fabulous job with this book. I'm just going to come right out and say I want more. Soon.
I hardly expected to like this book, let alone love it. Dialect really does annoy the ever-lovin heck out of me. It's distracting, unpleasant, gives me a headache and slows me down as a reader. Basically, it's torture, plain and simple. Well, apparently, it can be done right. Moira Young has proved that and left me speechless, so it's a good thing I'm typing my review rather than vlogging it. I don't quite know precisely why her dialect works so much better, but I am plum grateful for sure that she didn't put apostrophes in place of every dropped g (ex. runnin, fightin, etc). By the end of the book, I didn't even have to work to process the text; I was completely sucked into the story, something that's never happened to me with dialect before.
Writing in dialect was not the only bold stylistic choice Moira Young made, and it's not even the boldest. She made the really odd decision not to use quotation marks. There are none in this book. However, that's not because there's no dialogue; in fact, there's plenty of it.. She doesn't mark the dialogue in any way, except by he says or I says, but even those aren't on every bit of dialogue. Rarely did I have any issue distinguishing dialogue from narration. The fact that she did this and the result emerged easily comprehensible speaks volumes to her massive talent.
This novel has some of the best characterization I have ever encountered. There is not a single character in this book that's around for more than a page that doesn't feel just as real as you or me. Their personalities are all distinct and vibrant. They leap off the page or, perhaps, pull you into the pages to spend time with them. The story had to be told with dialect, because that's who the characters are. They don't know how to read or write; they only know how to speak and that's how most people talk in this strange post-apocalytpic world.
Speaking to that, I have no clue what happened to the world, none at all. Either we're somewhere out west near a lot of deserts or something's happened to cause less rain, because most everything is arid, parched, harsh. What technology exists comes from the time before. Knowledge has been lost. Few people are familiar with book learning, and I suspect fewer still will in a couple of generations.
In case that wasn't bad enough, there's also an evil, crazy king, whose mission in life is to take over this dusty world. Guys, let me tell you: he is creepy as all hell, like Louis, the Sun King, meets Henry VIII and his festering wounds. GROSS. Plus, he has his troops, the Tontons (which I have to try really hard not to picture as tauntauns - they're people). More mysteriously, there's his right-hand man, DeMalo, handsome and haughty. There's something to him and I want to know more.
At the beginning of Blood Red Road, Saba doesn't know hardly anyone but her family. In her whole life, she's met just three other people. She's not bothered though, because that's just how life is. There's her pa, who claims to be able to read the stars, her twin brother Lugh, the light of her life, and her little sister Emmi, who she hates for having caused their mother's death (childbirth). Saba doesn't start out as an especially likable character. She hero-worships her brother and is a right terror to her sister, so much so that even I thought she was being seriously awful.
Men on horseback show up, kidnap Lugh, kill her Pa, and ride away, leaving her behind with a useless sister and desert land. She has no purpose in life but to rescue her brother. As she goes, she keeps trying to leave her sister behind (with good people to look after her) but Emmi, just as stubborn as her sister, is having none of it. Along the way, as mentioned in the blurb, Saba picks up more people, like Jack and the Free Hawks, a badass group of women.
Though I want to leave most everything for you to experience on your own, I just have to comment on the perfection that is the evolution of relationships in this book. Saba's relationship with her sister changes ever so slowly, the character arc so believable. So too is Saba's slow evolution to being able to trust people that aren't Lugh. Then, there's the romance, which made my toes curl. Saba, not being trusting, has no desire for romance and fights it just like she fights anyone who tries to kill her or hurt Lugh. This allows for a perfect slow burn. She and Jack have amazing chemistry; I just love the way he teases her. *swoons*
If Moira Young can make me love a book written in dialect, the same could happen to you. If you like post-apocalytpic novels at all, do not miss out on this one. You would be cheating yourself of serious awesomeness.
I loved this book (I think you may have guessed)! This book blew me away. I was engrossed with this book, and was super sad and angry when I had finished it. Though the title is deceiving, as I thought that this book will be more gory and bloody than it was, but it still was pretty awesome.
The characters are amazing. I loved how Saba spelt a lot of things wrong, that made it seem so much more real, even though it was sometimes hard to understand. Reading that reminded me of Knife of Never Letting Go, so I was crying inwardly.
This book is purely awesome, and Katniss better watch out, as Saba is gonna kick you hard!
My heart was literally pounding as I was swept away across the Dust Lands to join Saba on a high-tension, action-packed adventure. Blood Red Road was written in a very unique style - completely in dialect, lacking in any quotation marks and not really separated into distinct chapters - more like a continuous account of Saba's journey, a new section beginning with each new location she reached.
Here's a little chunk from the beginning of the book to give you an idea of what the writing was like:
'Everythin's set. It's all fixed.
The lives of everybody who's ever bin born.
The lives of everybody still waitin to be born.
It was all set in the stars the moment the world began. The time of yer birthin, the time of yer death. Even what kinda person yer gonna be, good or bad.
You cain't change what's written.'
I suppose some may be troubled by the whole book being written in dialect, but I found it no problem at all. I love how different it was! It made you feel like you had definitely made the transition into a completely different world from ours. Everything flowed really naturally and, personally, I think it made me feel closer to Saba, as if I was really in her head and part of her world.
Now, Saba is what you call a fiery character! When what she calls the 'red hot' takes over, she is practically invincible - a real fighter. She's not a typical 'perfect' heroine, though, in fact she's pretty much the opposite of perfect. Rude, sassy and rather horrible to her nine-year-old sister Emmi (Their mother died giving birth to Emmi and Saba has never been able to look past the fact that her mother would still be alive if it wasn't for Emmi) we should probably not like Saba at all, but somehow I felt myself drawn to her character and I couldn't help admiring her guts and strength. Her character did change and develop along her journey, though, and it was nice to see this.
And Jack. Jack is the perfect match for Saba. Witty, charming and mysterious, I fell in love with him straight away. As did Saba, really, even though she refused to admit it for a LONG time.
Blood Red Road was a red hot novel - amazingly exciting and amazingly...well, just AMAZING! I love dystopians and this has definitely made its way onto my list of favourites, up there with the likes of The Hunger Games and Divergent!
I am crazily excited for the release of Rebel Heart, the sequel to Blood Red Road, which is apparently going to be 30th October THIS YEAR!! I can't wait! And even more exciting news... the film rights have already been bought! It will be VERY interesting to see them bring this story to life, I think.
Have I told you that you should read this yet? No? Well I'll tell you now. YOU HAVE TO READ BLOOD RED ROAD. NOW.
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.