May 16, 2012

Review: Blood Red Road

By: Moira Young
Published:June 2011 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Hardcover, 459 pages
First Reviewed:July 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
Add it on Goodreads

To escape, she will have to fight. To survive, she will have to lead.

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.

Rating: 10/5

*crickets* *crickets* *CRICKETS* I...don't even have words right now. Words? What are words? I feel like I need to write this whole review like Saba speaks, but I won't. Because I'm not that good. But Moira Young? She's that good. This book...THIS BOOK! I don't even...what?!?!?! I've been waiting for something like this! You see, this, people, this is exactly why I'm hard on other dystopians. There is no excuse for unoriginality. This book is a perfect example of how incredible and amazing and unique and intense and everything in between a dystopian can be without it being just like all the others. This is one of my favorites of all-time, I kid you not. It's officially my favorite dystopian and is probably top two of all books period. I. Loved. It! Here comes another praised filled review...

Are you kidding me?! You're kidding me. Did I, for real, just read an entire book narrated in the characters' native dialect and...absolutely freaking love it? With the only nitpick being that there were quotes used twice when I don't think there should have been? And I found a Blah[.] says Tommo instead of Blah[,] says Tommo. But whatever. That's it. In a nearly 500 pages book...that was all I stinkin' nitpicked about.

Young...oh my god, she's incredible! I've read books where the narration is just like the character would talk--The Chaos Walking Trilogy, for instance--but I've never read a book where it was just well done. When I first started this, I was a bit worried, not gonna lie. There's a small, two-ish page opening, and then the chapters start. Take a look at the first line paragraph:
The day's hot. So hot an dry that all I can taste in my mouth is dust. The kinda white heat day when you can hear th'earth crack.
There's no "and." It was always "an." And you know what? Do you. Know. What? It was fantastic! It took me not even the first section to fall into the language. It. Was. Perfect. I think I found one slip up (she used "afraid" once, like normal), but that's all, methinks.

Dialect aside, the actual voice she gave Saba was amazing as well. Strong, refreshing, yet still real. And know what else Young did and pulled of? Absolutely no quotations (except for the two places I mentioned). Not around dialogue or nothing. worked! After the first few dialogue lines, I was completely in it. Before I go into more rambles about how Young is officially on the favorite authors of all-time shelf, I'll just move on and spare everyone.

You's not often a commercial, non-general fiction books makes me tear up and almost start crying. But with this characterization, it was impossible for me not to tear up during certain situations and scenes. Again, I need a second to figure out what in the world I'm going to say about these characters. They were so natural. Not like characters at all. I always talk about characters being realistic in my reviews, but now that I'm thinking back, did I really know what that was until now?

With the majority of characters in all other books, I can feel their realism, but I'll still think of them as characters, and I'll see where the author put things in just so the readers can get to know them. But with this book? With these characters? There wasn't that feeling. Young didn't bother diving into them like other authors do. Clearly, she let them create themselves. She let them develop themselves and let Saba know only what real people would know about others they just met. doesn't happen often, especially in commercial, non-general fiction novels.

Saba was this naturally strong, born fighter, who doesn't realize her true strength at all until she's forced to. She thinks it's always her twin brother, who's shadow she always was. Being a shadow was okay for her, but as she grew, I loved watching her discover her hidden feelings and her true self. She was this broken character who had been through so much, who took her anger out on those around her, clearly so she doesn't have to show the pain that's buried inside. And for Young to show that in such a natural way was beautiful. Saba should go down as one of the best heroines in YA.

This is already getting pretty long, but I'll sum up the other characters quickly. Our love interest, Jack, was in no way, shape, or form a derivative of other YA male leads. Words cannot express how thankful I am to Young for creating such a deep soul in Jack. He had many sides to him, secrets that he wanted to keep hidden for the safety of others, and behind his joking demeanor, he has a beautiful heart. He was so complex and believable. I loved him from the start. As for the others? Absolutely adored little Emmi, and the others were perfect. Just so perfect. There are no other words for them. That's the only one I can say without giving much away about who's who and whatnot. Let's just say true identities--the ones that are buried deep within--are shown in this to the fullest, in different ways. There's a little bit of everyone in each character. And that is something Young should be praised for.

The plot? Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. Did I for real just read a book like this? That kept me so immersed that I actually got pissed off if someone interrupted me? I started this late last night, so I had to go to sleep (stupid freaking health problems knock me out too freaking early so that I can't freaking stay up into the stupid freaking wee hours of the stupid freaking morning because I know I would have because this freaking book was so freaking incredible), but this morning I woke up and started reading. I had a few disruptions...ugh...but was finally able to sit down and read.

Let me tell you...this blew me away. It's like a real dust cloud rained over me that was full of awesomeness. This plotline was so, so fresh, and considering it's dystopian, that's an even more incredible. This is the type of dystopian that should have been advertised and promoted like no one's business. This one, people! This one! From the immediate beginning I was thrown into Saba's world, I connected with her and with her life. And then as soon as the intensity picked up at the end of the first section, it never once slowed down.

I felt like I was there, running, fighting, racing atop horses, feeling with Saba and the others. Even now as I type this, I'm trying to get back into the current time. This is one of the few books where I can think back now--and probably for a long time to come--and remember almost every little detail. That's how into this book I was. There were many twists I never saw coming, which completely shocked me, and some of the scenes were just so intense that my heart was literally racing. As though I was the one involved, not Saba. I really can't say enough about this brilliantly paced book that had me on the edge of my seat.

Oh, and one more thing: The romance. You see, followers? Do you see?! This is what I mean when I say the romance shouldn't take away from the plot. It never once did with this. It was realistic and there, but never took over. Young let Saba and Jack have their connections, have their moments, but they stayed focused. There wasn't any of that lovey-dovey crap where the girl can't focus on anything but the boy's looks. There was a strong, focused girl and a strong, focused guy, who understood what the important goal was. And it wasn't getting into each other's pants. Perfect! A true "epic romance" as the book cover's summary says.

Besides the intense plot, there were beautiful and emotional moments. The kind I'd expect to read in a general fiction where the story's made for that. There are so very few commercial, non-general fictions that give the type of emotion this did. I almost started bawling at some points, and my heart ached for Saba and the others. It was fantastic. And let me just say how much I loved the sibling bonds. Not really spoilers: The bond of hatred between Saba and Emmi, yet that runs deeper and develops and changes. That was beautiful to watch. And the twin bond was perfect. I understood Saba's need to find her brother, why she wouldn't hesitate to do anything to get to him. That was both realistic and wonderful.

I just...oh my god. This book, the plot, the pacing, the intensity, the characters, the blew me away. Completely away. I've never read a book like this. It was everything I could have wanted and more, full of excitement, action, romance that's realistic and doesn't distract, and deep feelings and messages that you don't normally find in commercial books unless they're geared toward that. This is an all-time favorite, Young is an all-time favorite, and I can't hardly wait to fall into this world again with the next book. Simply incredible!

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