Title: Blood Red Road
Author: Moira Young
Series: Dust Lands, #1
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Imprint of Simon & Schuster)
Date Published: June 7th, 2011
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.
I really wanted to like this book. But unfortunately Blood Red Road is not for me. What I absolutely could not get past was the way it was written. Essentially the entire book is purposefully grammatically incorrect from start to finish.
Let me first talk about why this was done. The book is written in the first person, from Saba’s point of view. It’s a loosely-classified dystopian world that is somewhat barbaric and most people do not know how to read or write, including Saba. That being said, the book is written given the impression that Saba is writing it. Therefore the grammar errors are to give personality and “life” to Saba. Where it fails is in its readability though.
I could probably have gotten past the word substitutions like “yer” instead of “your”, and “ezzackly” instead of “exactly”. But what I could not get used to was the lack of quotes around dialog. Instead, at the end of a block of dialog, we get a “he says”, “I says”, etc. If you’ve never read anything in this format before, trust me, it’s not easy to get into the story because of it, and it makes the entire story feel choppy simply because you’re trying to decipher dialog from inner thoughts.
Some people will probably love the whole grammar thing and see it’s value. But I couldn’t get past it and it’s the number one reason why I rated this book so low.
The story itself is interesting and has lots of adventure and such. I really liked Jack, although we don’t get to know him that well. He’s a smart-ass, which I love though. Saba annoyed me at times, Emmi annoyed me all the time, and the rest of the characters I didn’t care one whit about. While I did see Saba grow and change throughout the book, I felt like the focus was all on the language and we didn’t even really learn much about any of the characters (including Jack). So it makes it really hard to connect with any of them, or care what happens to them.
So overall, while I would like to read about Jack some more, I will not be continuing this series. I can’t get past the way it’s written in order to enjoy the story itself. If you think you can (as it seems like most people have been able to) then you will probably like this, otherwise I’d stay far away.