Review: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

What publisher: Simon and Schuster

Where did you get book.: S&S galleygrab

Publication date: Out now

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.
Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, violent action, and an epic love story. Moira Young is one of the most promising and startling new voices in teen fiction.

*Blurb taken from Goodreads*

In a desolate and desert like world where people are clinging on the edge of survival, Saba — despite these hardships and struggles — is content with the insular world she and her family have on this barren land, and most especially with her bond with her twin brother who is her touch stone.  However for Saba, one fateful day tears her family apart  and so is her world when she witnesses the murder of her father and the abduction of her twin brother who is to become a sacrifice for a mad king. She embarks on journey  to save him and along the way she learns new insights about herself and knowledge about the people she meets as well as the ones who she is close to.

When I picked up Blood Red Road, I had heard it would have an unusual prose because it’s written in a short and snappy vernacular style with no speech marks, and I do find it difficult to read books like that because I really had to use my inner translator. I am not a huge fan of this type of prose; I tried reading Girl in the Arena and gave up.  Nonetheless, with Blood Red Road, the prose did connect well with the tone of the book as well as fleshing out Saba’s narration and her character. I felt that the prose also had this ancient story-teller sense, which really reflected well with the theme of fate  and destiny which is written in the stars in the book.  Due to this, I really think the language and prose was rich despite the short, and snappy style and even though it took me a longer while to finish the book, I did enjoy the writing style

Along with the rich prose, I loved the rich imagery that is presented in the book. One of my favourite scenes is when Lugh, Saba’s twin brother, is kidnapped by four men on horseback. It is very reminiscent of biblical prophecy and again connects the themes of fate and invoking  the imagery of a post apocalyptic and barren world. Her response was gut-wrenching and I have to quote an excerpt from the aftermath of her brother’s kidnapping and death of her father because it emoted such strong feelings. It was really poetic and raw and from that point, I got lost in the story.

I cain’t speak. Cain’t breathe.
Lugh’s gone.
My golden Heart is gone.
I kneel in the dust.
The tears roll down my face.
An a hard red rain starts to fall.

From this point the story and pace really kicks up a gear when Saba goes onto track and follow the strange men who she later finds out to be the Tonton who enslave people with drugs for a mad self proclaimed King. Yet along her journey she finds herself having to take care for her younger sister Emmi who refuses to be left behind with a friend of the family and tags along with Saba who reluctantly agrees. Saba’s cold attitude towards her sister doesn’t make her likable, in fact, in the beginning of the book, she is pretty self centred and insular with her outlook and  views.

Yet when Saba and Emmi are tricked and captured and enslaved by the cruel and eccentric couple, the Pinches, they force Saba to become a cage fighter, which is pretty reminiscent of Mad Max’s and the Thunderdome. I loved this aspect of the book because it was gritty and earthy. Saba’s character was also enriched and developed when she has to go through this harsh ordeal to survive. I loved how she learns to relate and empathise with others in the same predicament but at the same time not submitting to defeat because of her determination to escape and save her brother and sister.

I loved that during the course of the book — and with her experiences with her own enslavement and new relationships with friends she has made, and the evolving relationship with her sister Emmi — expanded her character. Blood Red Road is also a coming of age tale. In a lot of ways, Saba’s experiences with all of those ordeals she suffered — emotionally and physically —  helped to shape and form her own identity which has always been linked with her brother. Saba feels that she is the shadow and he is the light.

The book also had a wonderful rich cast of supporting characters, such as the rebels, who help out Saba, the Pinches, the mad King, and the mysterious Tonton second in command who I hope we get to see in future books because he really livened up and added colour in a stark world. I also ADORED Jack who is the love interest for Saba, who she saves from being enslaved as a cage-fighter. Their interactions with each other was fun, and sparkling. Jack is also rogue, and I loves the rogues! I also loved how the theme of destiny and fate was intertwined with their romance, and I hope this is explored later too. The romance was one of my favourite aspects of this book, although I wished Jack was introduced a bit sooner because he really enlivened the story and definitely was a great catalyst for Saba, who he challenged in a lot of ways which I liked.

Saba was hard to like in the beginning, but I loved that during her quest to look for her twin brother helped to bring out her vulnerable side which made me relate to her more. The supporting characters, who were quirky, scary and some completely psychotic  were really vivid and stood out for me, especially with the stark contrast of the dry and sterile landscape.

Blood Red Road is a compelling  book that was a tense and pacey read and filled with rich themes and imagery. The world-building and characters, was fantastic and for me definitely slots into what I think a Post Apocalyptic world can be like.  I know some people will have issues about the prose. I had trouble getting into the book initially and reading it took longer than I was usually accustomed to, but the language is rich and evocative and I think it really adds to the plot and tone and most especially the characters. I definitely look forward to the next book. I need my fix for Saba and her siblings and to see what happens with Jack!

I give Blood Red Road a B+

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5 thoughts on “Review: Blood Red Road by Moira Young”

  1. I’m making note of this one for a day when I need something refreshingly different. Sounds entirely outside of my comfort zone, which should make it vastly interesting…

  2. @Bloedeuedd I felt the same way! It was def fit Dystopian to a big D 😀

    @Estella I am not a huge fan of non speech marks or other weird grammatical approach but I did think that this was reflective of the characters and the settings. I think some people may find it hard, but for me the poetic style/tone drew me in although it took me a longer while to finish the book.

    @BJ The style and tone was definitely unique although I did think the story was more relatable with coming of age trope. I think this is why the book worked so well along with reflecting the world/characters. I hope you enjoy it if you do pick it up!

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