Blood Red Road (Dustlands #1)
by Moira Young
This review may contain mild spoilers, but they're nothing that you won't see in the trailer for the film. That's right, Ridley Scott optioned this book for a film before it was even published, and it's easy to see why. It's a hugely entertaining spectacle full of adventure and excitement and thrills, with action scenes that you can clearly picture as you read them.
Saba's twin brother Lugh has been kidnapped by a band of horsemen, and she sets off alone on the quest to bring him back. Well, she tries to go alone, but her pesky little sister Emmi keeps finding a way to tag along after her, even though they're trekking through a dried up wasteland filled with danger around every turn.
Here are some of the things that made this story super fun:
* Saba is a bad-ass. There's no beating around the bush about this, the girl can handle a crossbow and won't let anything get in the way of her goal.
* There is cage-fighting. Girl cage-fighting.
* There is a thrilling prison escape.
* There are giant killer worms.
I could go on and on, but frankly if you weren't convinced by giant killer worms, this is clearly not the book for you. Oh! But there is one more very important thing: Jack. Tall, handsome Jack. Saba doesn't want to be distracted by anything, but it's pretty hard not to pay attention to a guy as attractive as this one. All of these things made Blood Red Road a great escapist fantasy, and I think most people are really going to enjoy it.
There were, however, some things that I felt could have used a little more fleshing out:
* While I liked the pivotal third cage fight, the previous two fights were throwaway scenes, which were lost opportunities for more action.
* Some of the transitions between scenes could have been a little smoother.
* There are two scenes of sacrifice in this book, both of which I expected, but both could probably have been written to pack more of an emotional punch. I did appreciate the clear visual beauty of the first one, however,
* I also think the relationship in this book was probably its weakest point. I like Jack a lot, and I like Saba--but the push and pull between them felt unreasonably drawn out and a little forced. The dialogue there also bordered on a little cheesy at times, though again, I did like them as a couple.
It's also important to note that the dialect in this book, which is harsh and a little grating, may be hard for some readers to stomach. Normally this kind of thing would be irritating to me, but actually I found the speech in the book pretty easy to adjust to, which is a mark of how great a job the author did with moving the action and dialogue along. There is also lots of terrific humor and great characters peppered throughout, though it might've been nice to give them a little more ink
What makes this book a 3 - 3.5 star book for me, though is that it's an enjoyable read but perhaps one that's not terribly...deep. Or complex. But then again, it's not really trying to be. Overall, the story is a lot of fun to read and the action and adventure provide one heck of a ride. Saba's going to be remembered as a literary heroine who is prickly and flawed, but still fiercely determined and ultimately extremely likable. I can't wait to meet up with her again to see where the next journey takes her.
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Rated 3 out of 5 stars
30-second synopsis: A thrilling escapist fantasy set in a post-apocalyptic world, in which a girl sets off on a quest to retrieve her twin brother. Along the way, she deals with cage fights, killer worms, and the attentions of a tall, handsome man. An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.