Book Reviews

[review] Blood Red Road – Moira Young

Release Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 459
Format: Paperback
Source: Finished copy received from publisher

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 bearing four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on a 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.

Tell Me More: Most of the buzz I’ve seen surrounding this book are consistently focused on its similarities to The Hunger Games. To which I say: what similarities? Where THG is a dystopian society, with touches of sci-fi, Blood Red Road is more like a Western thriller. If I had to draw parallels to any sort of media, the closest might be the late, great television series Firefly. As a reader, I didn’t appreciate the blurbs’ attempt to condition my mind into seeing something that isn’t there, even if that illusion would sell more books.

That small grudge against the blurbs can explain why I did find it difficult to enjoy the story at first. As I began reading, my brain kept trying to point how dissimilar Blood Red Road was to THG, and if it was distracting to me, it’ll be distracting for other readers. I can see how Saba might be compared to Katniss, but I see them as two completely separate and unique characters. Saba is angry, dependent and reckless. She might be the most challenging character I’ve ever encountered, and she doesn’t make it easy to know her. One aspect of her personality that I found confusing was her attachment to Lugh, her twin. While it’s easy to say that twins share a kinship unlike any other, I never really felt that kinship. If anything, Saba seems to be more dependent on Lugh, rather than an equal relationship. It did get to the point where I started to wonder if Saba was a little bit in love with Lugh. While that doesn’t bother me at all, I would have appreciated more indications either way.

Overall, the character development strikes me as uneven and the plot races along without it at times. My interest was peaked, but I couldn’t quite care for any of the characters, and the ones I was concerned for weren’t given enough page time to really win me over.  The plot is unique and overwhelmingly complex at certain points. Young has a tight control over Saba’s story and her eye for detail is superb. There is always something at risk in Blood Red Road, and you are never quite sure what you could lose next.

Another salient point that should inform your decision to read is the writing style and dialogue. Moira Young employs a Midwestern style of narration, and if readers aren’t familiar with that way of speaking, it may be difficult to proceed with the story. Quotation marks are also missing from the story, which may bother some readers. Interestingly enough, I also believe that Blood Red Road can stand on its own. It is meant to be a series, but should you decide to stop after this book, you won’t feel like something is missing. Frankly, I am glad for it, because I don’t see myself continuing the series at this point.

The Final Say: Blood Red Road was an okay book, interesting but not intense and a challenge to invest in. Readers interested in a high-stakes story with unique elements will find much to enjoy in this series.

Be sure to follow Moira Young on Twitter @moira_young.

You can check out Blood Red Road on Goodreads and order it from The Book Depository.

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6 replies »

  1. On the subject of blurbs and the like, I know what you mean. I was in a bookstore yesterday and saw a table called something like “For Fans of The Hunger Games” and saw books like Graceling sitting there. Now, they’ve both got strong heroines, but honestly the books are SO different. If I picked it up expecting ANYTHING like THG, I would have been sorely disappointed thanks to the bookseller.

  2. You said Firefly and I was interested, but then I read the rest of the review… The sibling relationship reminds me of Wither, and that relationship was one of the issues I had with the story. I think I’ll be staying away from this one.

  3. Thoughtful review, Angel. I want to read this book, and I know it will be a challenge but I look forward to that. Speaking as an author, I have to say I think the blurb is a mistake on the part of the publisher for another reason: Young and Collins are colleagues, and without knowing either of them personally I feel confident saying there is no way on this earth that Young felt comfortable with the use of the word “better” with respect to another writer’s work. It was unfair of Doubleday to put her in that position. (This is my opinion, as I mentioned. I don’t know any of the parties.)

  4. I like the sound of Western thriller. I’m sorry to hear it didn’t catch your interest. Though I’m happy to hear that it’s distracting trying to compare it to THG when it doesn’t at all. I think it would be hard for me to get into a book like that. I really want to check out what this Midwestern style of writing is that you talk about though. It’s nice to see a different point of view on this book (all I’ve seen is reviews praising this book). Thanks for the awesome (and very thoughtful) review!

  5. Thanks for the review! I love Firefly parallel, but the rest of the review makes me think maybe I’ll give this a pass, at least as an amazon purchase. I’ll probably check it out at my library instead!

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