by Moira Young
Dustlands trilogy; book I
Duuude. Prepare for major gushing. See this tweet. My lack of reading recently has really made me fall head-over-heels... and did you know, this book has been optioned by Ridley Scott :O
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.
My Expectations: Not that high, to be honest. This copy was unsolicited, and I haven't seen much hype since I've been a blogging absentee.
Delivery: AHHHHHHH *falls over*
Blood Red Road is my new favourite book. Why? Because I can’t stop thinking about it! It blends the writing of The Knife of Never Letting Go (though I think Patrick Ness still holds the crown of most mind-effing writer) and the action of Divergent. It’s a book that was thrilling from the moment the action took off about a quarter way through and never took its foot off the gas pedal as it roared towards the finish line like an unstoppable storm.
It’s that good.
And boy, was I not expecting it. It looked slightly unassuming with a ‘erm okay’ type of summary, and as I struggled to get past the style of writing that kept screaming PATRICK NESS, I realized I stopped noticing it as I was swept up in the ride. The plot is deceptively simple: Find Brother. That’s really it, but then Young manages to weave so much into this objective, so much shit goes down that I just spend the entire middle of the book jaw-dropped as the action unfolded and things got cranked up. There’s violence and brutality, there’s high stakes and excitement, and of course, there’s romance.
I want to say that the romance in this book was so freaking well done. For a cynic like me, I fell in love with the way Saba handled everything, while it might be a bit slow for others’ tastes, I just adored it. The simmering passion and the ‘what a twit’ mentality… hehe ;)
Saba, please be my best friend? Just kidding, you scare me. You scare me with your intensity, familial love, bravery, loyalty and endless determination to find your brother. You experience so much personal growth and you never shy away from the insane conditions you find yourself in. And you are so kick-ass.
Then there’s the supporting cast that is no less brilliant, from Emmi who I started off detesting then grew to love, the mysterious boy, and the Free Hawks girls who should have ‘awesome’ tattooed on their foreheads. It's good to judge books by how well developed the villains are, and in this case, between the evil king and the abundance of chaal (a drug).. it's great.
And the crow, Nero. Nero, you belong in the fictional Pet Hall of Fame beside Manchee (The Knife of Never Letting Go) and Taggle (Plain Kate), you are that outstanding.
Ah, and another bonus: the world. With such vivid imagery, I could feel the dry sand and sweaty bodies, the parched lips and the “wild, lawless land.” The post-apocalyptic setting was violent and dark, and with places like “Hopetown” you have to wonder when things turned from truth to lies.
Oh, and Moira Young manages to close of this story without too much of a cliffhanger, YAY! I definitely prefer books in a series like this, because while there’s a few loose threads to be developed (like holy, DeMalo, I need to know more) but it’s ultimately satisfying.
And lastly, I need to talk about the writing, because it’s told in a uniquely minimal style* and with a strong dialect like that, I did get distracted at times. However, it does float away as I was caught up with the plot, and I think the writing really fit Saba’s voice. Imperfect, but achingly beautiful. Poetic.
I really need to wrap this up.
Rating in HP Terms: Outstanding!!
Recommended for: All dystopian fans, you really really can’t miss this one.
Acknowledgements: ehh, 1.5/5
9.2/10 – because it was love! I definitely wasn’t prepared to like it this much, but it felt very much like an epic Western with cowboys riding in on their horses and leaving dust in their wake. Okay, not really. But still. A phenomenal debut. Action-packed plot? Check. Fantastic characters with worthwhile motivations? Check. Distinct, sparse writing? Check. Startling world-building? Check. On your to-read list? CHECK.
*I won’t bring up another Patrick Ness comparison, but yeah, the writing is reminds me of Patrick Ness, if you’re wondering. My review of The Knife of Never Letting Go (9.3/10)