Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Published: 2 June 2011 (Marion Lloyd Books)
Source: Borrowed from library
In a lawless future land, where life is cheap and survival is hard, Saba has been brought up in isolated Silverlake. She never sees the dangers of the destructive society outside. When her twin brother is snatched by mysterious black-robed riders, she sets outon an epic quest to rescue him.
I first heard of this book a while ago when it was being tipped as the next big thing after The Hunger Games. This book follows Saba who sets out to rescue her twin brother Lugh who has been captured.
Starting this book, the first thing you notice is the style it's written in. It's very similar to The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness in that words are spelt the way the characters speak and how the characters would spell them. It makes for some strange spellings and odd words, but it's a very effective tool at really getting inside the main character's (in this case Saba) head and hearing their voice. Once you get used to it, though, it's one of the things I came to love about the writing.
The story is set in a barren, post-apocalyptic world where dust storms are frequent, humans of the past are referred to as Wreckers, and only odd bits of human technology remains. Most of the main characters are illierate (hense the odd spelling and way of speaking) and Saba and her family live in almost total isolation. It creates a great atmosphere and a wonderful setting for a gripping plot.
I really liked the characters. Saba is really fierce and gobby and prepared to put up a fight. She's completely determined to track down her brother which makes her quest to find him all the more poignant. I really enjoyed the strained relationship between her and her younger sister Emmi, as well as her interactions with the other characters throughout the story. During her mission to find her brother she meets Jack, who completely confuses her. She's never met anyone like him before and I really enjoyed the development of their relationship.
It quickly becomes apparent that as well as Saba's mission to save her brother, there is something much bigger going on in the world she lives in. People are being controlled, captured and killed. It makes for a pretty brutal story in parts. I think the closest comparison to The Hunger Games I felt was the scenes where children are attacking children. It's definitely a gritty, harsh world that this book takes place in. There's plenty of villainous characters that stir up strong emotions both for the characters and the reader.
Overall I was pretty impressed by this book. The characters, plot and unique writing style all come together to create an intense read that I couldn't put down. I sometimes struggled with bits of the story where I would get confused, which maybe wasn't helped by the lack of speech marks. I would have to go back and re-read certain sections to check just what was speech. I wasn't too sure about the ending, but there's a book that comes after this and I can see the potential for the next book. There were a few issues that were only just touched upon that I'm really hoping take centre stage in the following book. Despite all that, I'd definitely recommend this as a must-read.
What to read next: Rebel Heart by Moira Young, book 2 in the Dustlands trilogy
Books like this: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, The Hunger Games by Patrick Ness