Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Review: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Saba and her twin brother Lugh have never been separated -- and since their mother died in childbirth and their father began to slip away, they've become even more dependent on each other for survival. So when four cloaked horsemen appear in the midst of a bloodred sandstorm and take Lugh away, Saba's choice is clear: she must face the unknown and unforgiving desert, and save her twin from a grisly end. But Saba's journey is farther and more dangerous than she could possibly imagine, and only with the help of a barkeep, an infuriating thief, a deaf little boy and a band of girl revolutionaries does she have any hope of bringing her brother home.

In Blood Red Road, Moira Young crafts a gritty post-apocalyptic adventure, and once the action starts it never pauses for breath. However, it is difficult to get a handle on the heroine, Saba. In her single-minded quest to save her brother, her own identity and desires seem to get lost. I often found myself frustrated with her thoughtless mistakes and would have liked to see her grow into some kind of self-awareness over the course of the novel, rather than remaining so co-dependent on her brother. That's not to say, though, that she wasn't strong or driven. Saba had an unwavering determination to save the person she loves most in the world, no matter the cost, and was a fierce fighter and talented archer.

Part of the distance between reader and heroine comes from the dialect in which the entire novel is written. There are no quotation marks, and words like "an" for and, "jest" for just, "ezzackly" for exactly, and a general lack of grammar pervade the text. This is obviously an intentional choice by the author to set the tone for the novel, but it was frustrating to wade through as a reader. It took me half of the 500 page tome to look past the twang and appreciate the narrative.

Once accustomed to the dialect, though, Young's epic adventure became engrossing. The world-building is fantastic, putting the reader directly into the dry, deserted landscapes and ramshackle villages of Saba's story. This future world is as degenerate as they come, with a mad king and his sadistic Tonton, drugging the citizens with chaal until they're irrational, bloodthirsty animals. The eclectic cast of secondary characters makes the novel shine, including Nero, Saba's bizarrely intelligent pet crow. My favorites, though, are the "girl revolutionaries" mentioned in the synopsis: the Free Hawks, a motley crew of fiercely loyal and seriously lethal warriors that are somehow reminiscent of Peter Pan's Lost Boys.

Ultimately, though the dialect is distracting, Young's debut novel is a captivating blend of magic and monsters, betrayal and vengeance, rebellion and desert pirates that will reward tenacious readers who see it through to the ragtag rebels' final stand.

Rating: 

Disclosure: I received an advance galley from the publisher. This did not affect my review in any way.

This novel hit shelves yesterday. Click here to purchase Blood Red Road by Moira Young.

Part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.

13 comments:

lisa :) said...

This sounds really interesting but the dialect issue might drive me crazy. I imagine it might work well as an audiobook though!

danya said...

This one sounds really different but I'm not sure I could get past how it's written. I tend to cringe at typos and grammatical errors! (That "ezzackly" is kind of painful, LOL).

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

It definitely drove me crazy! I only stuck with it because I'd been looking forward to the book for so long. I talked to several people on Twitter who had to give up.

Blueicegal ♥ said...

Oh man and I was really looking forward to it too. Thanks for being honest girly :)

Small Review said...

I really wish this book hadn't been written phonetically like that. I've tried reading it twice and couldn't get past the first few pages. I might give it another try when I can get a print copy. I sounds like such a good story, but that grammar...

Lauren M said...

Ha, I was planning to start Blood Red Road this evening! I've heard mixed things about the dialect...hopefully I won't mind it too much! (The Knife of Never Letting Go had some similar phonetic stuff going on, and I still loved it)
Great review; I'm looking forward to immersing myself in Saba's adventure! :)

Midnight Bloom said...

The writing style itself was definitely the hardest part to overcome for me as well and I read along, I kept auto-correcting everything in my head. But once I get used to, there was no turning back and it was so easy to find myself lost in the story and Saba's adventure of a tale. It was definitely a better novel than I initially thought it would be. Great review Casey!! (And now that you mention it, the Free Hawks did sort of seem like a female version of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan...)

Katie said...

I just ordered this one! I hope the writing won't bother me too much, it actually sounds sort of cool! Great review! I can't wait to read this one!

*Andye* said...

I've been eying this one for awhile. Didn't get an ARC, so I'm not sure if I want to spend the $$.....maybe I should see if they have it on audio. That might help so I don't have to decipher the slanguage! :)

Danny said...

Hm hm .... since english is not my frist language I might have problems understanding it ... Maybe it's notfor me then, but it does sound good! Loved your review....

Precious said...

Oh, great review! I never had the chance to read this in ebook form. I'm very interested in this though. As of the moment, it hasn't reached that buy-asap-level for me, I don't think I'll buy this right away.

melannie skoob said...

Sounds really good, but (like Danny) english is not my first language, so I don't want to buy it and then end up not reading it if I get confused

Yani {AvidReader} said...

I love your reviews! This one seems interesting, but I am not running to the nearest bookstore to read it.

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