“Blood Red Road” by Moira Young: a book review

Three or four of the past book reviews have been “Young Adult Fiction” books, and I feel that definition comes with an unfair stigma at times. Like they are lesser books.  I’m not the first to look at it this way, but I feel some people look down on fiction geared toward teens. The truth is a lot of these books are better paced and more visual than many “Adult” books I’ve read and it’s a shame that even some teenagers think that once they’re seventeen or eighteen that the world of “YA” is now for babies and they’re going to focus on “more mature, serious” readings.

Bullshit. “YA” can kicks ass.

Enter “Blood Red Road.” Published in June of 2011, it’s easily the best new YA novel from last year in my opinion. It is book #1 of Moira Young’s “Dustlands” series.

This book takes chances that many contemporary novelists, “Young Adult” or otherwise, would not risk, and I’m mainly talking about the use of slang. Think Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer” and you’ll get the gist. What’s more, the author really rolled the dice by making it extraordinarily sparse of punctuation. Think Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men” or “The Road.” No parentheses and no quotations for spoken dialogue!—only some commas, dashes and periods.

Now, I know what you may be thinking: “That’s gimmicky.” You’re wrong. In this case, it enhances the story, which should always be the crucial consideration when doing things unconventionally. You may also be thinking: “How would you know who is speaking, and doesn’t the slang make it a tough read?” Absolutely not. Somehow, the way that this book was written is clear, flowing, and engaging. Somehow the lack of quotations and the heavy slang and phoentic spelling of words stops being an issue after a few pages in. Some may disagree and find the style far too distracting for them. Their loss.

But if you’re a fairly seasoned reader or are over fifteen, “Blood Red Road” is a literary gem, complete with an original adventure story, full of heart ache, sub-plots, quests, and revenge. The scenery and locations are also well described, and take the reader through the desert, the rivers, the forest, the grasslands, the mountains, etc.—all the big fantasy backdrops you’d expect.

And Saba? Think “Gladiator” meets Katniss Everdeen meets Natalie Portman in “V for Vendetta.” Yeah. I know, right? “Blood Read Road” made me say: ‘Katniss who? What are the Hunger Games?’

BLR’s teenage female protagonist wipes the floor with the personal dramas of Katniss and company. Saba in BLR is memorable and loveable; and her love interest, Jack, is honestly the best charismatic, smoky, arrogant love interest I’ve read ever in YA. Seriously, as far as writing style goes and capturing another world, Young and Collins are neck-and-neck. All motivations and dialogue is believable.

Did I mention this is Moira Young’s first book? Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either. No first book should read so well. I cannot wait to see what else she delivers (this is the beginning of a series).

I really think “Blood Red Road” is a testament that Young Adult fiction can matter, can be powerful, and can be artistically important. This is the fat 450-some page YA novel that kept some YA conventions intact, but also turned a lot on their heads.

I love this book, will recommend it to anybody who likes futuristic, dystopian, fantasy-adventures and I will eagerly be anticipating the film in the next few years which is rumored to be helmed by the great Ridley Scott. Book #2 of the “Dustlands” series — Rebel Heart — is due out around Halloween 2012. (Per Usual, there are different covers for the UK and the US, plus different hardback and paperback, so don’t judge the books by their covers. No pun intended. I just wish the publishers had made it clear that “Dustlands” was the title or even the subtitle for “Blood Red Road”, because it’s just confusing now.)

Click the links to browse the titles on GOODREADS.COM — a site I recently fell in love with. The Facebook of passionate readers.

Just trust me: start reading this thing like I did, knowing little or nothing about it. By page 41, the end of the first part, I was spellbound. Satisfying and book club worthy, get a friend to read “Blood Red Road” with you so you can gush.

4.25/5

MH

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10 Comments

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10 responses to ““Blood Red Road” by Moira Young: a book review

  1. lian92

    Well i find Katniss a lot more believeble as a charecter she has fearse and is wiling to surcrifise her pride if that means she and her loved ones survive, i found Saba selfish and angry all the time. And her fighting abbilities are not very believeble in my opinion to be honest i like Blood red road for other charecters like Emmi who seemed more believeble and less obnoxius.

    • Good points. However you may be forgetting to consider the way in which Katniss vs. Saba grew up. Though both had screwed up childhoods, Saba didn’t have the community or mother that Katniss had. OF COURSE growing up with a looney father in the middle of the desert without a mother is going to create a whipper-snapper like SABA. LOL. That’s why I enjoyed her character. I’m not saying she was a good person for most of the book, but it was fun watching her discover things and watch her change. Her attitude did change how she felt toward her sister and she did learn to trust. If you’re lookin’ at Katniss vs. Saba in purely storytelling character arcs, while Katniss is more “normal” or “relatable” to our lives in modern times, Saba has a more realized story arc and goes through more sweeping personal changes in a single book. Saba’s upbringing and environment made her how she was, and though that makes her rough around the edges, I don’t hold that against her. We’d all be like that growing up that way. LOL. Thank you so much for reading my crazy blog, and there’s more great young adult fiction to come.

      • Nicole CG

        Some of your points are valid, but for me Saba was an abomination. Her lack of a community raises an awful lot of questions that the author didn’t even dare to address. How did she become such a good fighter? Don’t tell me she was “born that way,” because that’s lame. If she hasn’t been around people for most of her life, shouldn’t she be at least somewhat socially awkward, not picking up men like a lint brush? Everyone likes her immediately, and for no reason, even though she’s awful to them. She’s apparently immune to things like PTSD, which, I don’t know, seems kind of like something that would happen if you watched your brother get kidnapped and your father killed. As much as I admire your optimism, she was honestly too much of a Mary Sue for me (and I’ve read a LOT of bad Sues.)
        And for the record, the line “You really don’t know, do you? How beautiful you are.” made me want to punch kittens or something. Aside from sounding like a certain few popular songs on the radio, that really did nothing except give us an idea of what the author wishes she was like.

        [Fun fact: I ran her through a Mary Sue litmus test. She got a score of 88, with 50+ being a major Sue c:]

      • you actually make some really good points there. I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said. Nice to have someone comment who isn’t a psyho, isn’t it? Plus, i didn’t blindly snap back at you for making great points just becasue i liked the book. LOL. some people are crazy when it comes to defending their positions with strangers.

        keep reading and keep throwing out your opinions. I seriously appriciate your insight. I like the book still, but you made a glaring issue come clear to me. Maybe the sequel book won’t have such basic logic mistakes. Should it be a 3.5 or 4 star book now? what do ya say?

  2. lian92

    Yeah i enjoyed Sabas grewth like a charecter but Katniss didnt exactly have a pink and flowery childhood, i mean she had to grow up way faster than Saba and leave with a loony mother , and a depended sister. And she also had trust issues, what i liked was that she knew that sometimes she just needs to suck it up for survival. Saba seemed to be angry at evryone even when she knew they can help her save her brother, and it seemed as if she thought she coud do evrything better than any one else. She changed a bit in the end though i admit . And i like how from a depended person she turned in to someone who led the way. When Katniss was always the one in charge of hers and her families lifes.

  3. lian92

    hey its me again i wanted to apologies for being rude about Divergent espielly if your were ofended i guess we just like different books but on a bright side i also loved Blood red road .

    • Me too. We can be friends. I am 26 and live close to America’s capitol. How old are you? Where in Russia are you from? Man or woman? I am a guy who loves to write and watch movies. I hope you and me both read the next book in the “blood red road” series. book #2 is coming out near the end of 2012. 🙂 Cheers!

  4. lian92

    hi im 19 and im female i live in Moscow and go to college there . I also love movies and shows and reading and i am a huge Hunger games fan. great to see your reply but do you know what monthes the second book woud be out i only know its caled Rebel heart , thanks in advance.

  5. lian92

    thanks a lot

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