144 of 159 people found the following review helpful
When originally I heard about this book I was very excited. I'm not huge on dystopian novels, but in the case of this one I was ready to invest a considerable amount of time into it because it was a rather long novel (450 or so pages) and the MC is older then most (as far as young adult fiction goes). I kept away from early reviews and excerpts because I wanted to go into the book with a fresh set of eyes, no preconceptions whatsoever.
I really wish I had read a couple at least, so I was prepared.
As a plot BLOOD RED ROAD was thoroughly engrossing. This story is 100% Saba's; her voice, her perceptions, her feelings. Saba doesn't hold back or try to sugar coat things, she's very upfront (to the reader at least) about her faults as well as her strengths. She readily admits that her younger sister is an unwelcome burden, a constant reminder of what they had (a happy family) versus what they didn't have when their mother was alive. She also admits that Lugh is the bright light, the one that leads them and is their guiding force. She doesn't say anything of this with bitterness, she merely accepts that he leads and she follows.
The closeness the twins share is a steady pulse throughout the novel, even when Lugh is taken away and Saba has to face a world where he isn't there to show her what needs doing. I wouldn't say that Saba suddenly realized 'Gee I'm just as smart as Lugh!', it was more of a gradual understanding that Lugh's understanding of the world came from how he saw it. As her perception changed so too did her her ability to interact with the world.
As I said, the plot held me captivated. So its with some irritation that I report it took me nearly two weeks to finish this novel. In that time I put it aside so often I got nearly three times that many pages done on various other books. Even while I sat wondering how Saba figured out a way to keep going, I could not make myself read it any faster than I did.
To put it simply the writing killed me. Not that Young couldn't write, its just because the book was from Saba's POV everything was written as if Saba was writing it down. And since Saba's education was rudimentary at best that meant a whole lot of spelling mistakes, grammar headaches and weirdly placed punctuation. At first I thought it was because it was an advanced reader's copy, but with a sinking feeling I realized that's how the ENTIRE BOOK is written. If it had just been when Saba or the others talked, I could have tolerated it. But when Saba is describing a scene and its in that broken mostly phonetic spelling it grated on me.
That's a personal problem however. As I said, the plot is gripping, I just couldn't get beyond the narrative tone.
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2011
I hate to start off a review with a negative, but it was a big one for me and I see for many others as well. The writing style. It was horrible. Moira Young wrote the book in the voice of Saba, not just the dialogue, but the whole thing. Saba had a dialect that seemed a cross between the deep south and Texas, the uneducated parts, so there was a lot of drawl and misspelled words. It was incredibly painful to read over 450 pages of that.
Aside from that, the story was very entertaining. It's great to read a novel with a powerful young woman as the main character. Saba does a lot of growing up throughout the novel as she learns just how strong and creative she can be. Even when she's down about as far as she can get, she doesn't give up, she keeps fighting.
Young keeps the action and adventure moving swiftly so I never got bored, even with such a long book. She handled a myriad of leading characters with great finesse, giving them depth and separate personalities - and I never got any of them confused, which is easy for me to do in some novels!
This is marketed as a young adult book, but adults will enjoy it, too. Give it a read! It comes out tomorrow (June 7, 2011)!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2013
Pros: Interesting story, good character development.
Cons: Writer chooses to write without using quotation marks. So plan on spending a good part of the reading time trying to decipher if the words are the character's thoughts, his or her words, or an outside observation. Some sentences finally make it clear by using the words "she said," or "Emmi said," long after the non-quote is started. Some don't.
Too bad an otherwise talented writer chooses a writing style that makes it hard to understand, and harder to read, since the reader is constantly shifting from being immersed in the storyline to moving outside it to try to understand if the words are a quote of spoken words, or are the character's thoughts, or something else. Maybe Young thinks the lack of punctuation makes it more "real," or maybe she's an amateur who just doesn't understand how quotation marks work. Too bad. I would have given it 4 stars if it were not so confusing to try and follow with this crippling fault.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2011
There are many successful books that get turned into movies. Not necessarily good movies. Actually, it is very rare for the movie to be better than the book. But not impossible.
Blood Red Road might be one of such rare cases.
I read somewhere that this book was optioned to be become a movie even BEFORE being published. That's where the problems lies: Blood Red Road is trying too hard to be a movie before even being a book.
That means that while it's got some elements that would be of stunning effect on screen - cage fights, killer worms, a battle à la Braveheart - it falls a bit short on the elements which are needed to make it a good book. I am talking about a solid plot, characterization, worldbuilding and... well, common sense, actually.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, we meet Saba, her twin brother Lugh, her sister Emmi and their father living in Silverlake, a place which reminded me a bit of the movie Mad Max. The mother is dead and they are experiencing a terrible drought that is making their lives really hard. When some mysterious men on horses kidnap Lugh and kill their father, Saba sets off with her little sister to rescue him.
It is during this quest that she becomes involved in spectacular cage fights, a jail breakout, a race across the desert and killer worms. With the aid of a team of rebels, Jack - a guy to who she seems to be unexplainably attracted to - and his friends, will they succeed in their mission and save Lugh from a terrible destiny?
The beginning of the story is really promising. It has a certain The Reapers Are the Angels: A Novel feeling which I really like. Both the use of the language and the lack of quotation marks enrich the book and the rhythm is so fast-paced that it is pretty difficult to put it down. The narration is engrossing, the scenes spectacular and very imaginative. As I said before, it is probably going to make a nice movie. Up until about 70% I would probably have given it 4 stars.
But then things started going downhill and even the little flaws that I had spotted before and was willing to overlook - because the book was fun - started to add up and become one too many.
My first problem is with world building. In this book it's so basic that if I had to draw it on a map, it would look like one of my 4 y.o. daughter's drawings.
We set off in SilverLAKE, we pass through CrossCREEK and reach HopeTOWN. We then take horses and go meet people under some DarkTREES, cross the DarkMOUNTAINS and after a battle in the FreedomFIELDS we go live happily ever after to the BigWATER. There is no mention of other towns, of other people even existing outside of Hopetown, no hint at how this world is structured. Take the King. What is he king of? It feels like this world is populated by just a handful of people who live in a bunch landmarks.
The plot had too many holes, there are too many things which don't add up and which include - but alas, are not limited to:
-Saba's ability to fight like a pro wrestler with no prior training whatsoever;
-the unlikeliness of the all-knowing crow;
-the use of telepathy on various occasions between characters;
I was constantly asking myself questions which belong to the sphere of common sense:
-why would one take a 9 year old on a suicide rescue mission?
-why would one shoot a clearly already dead person and NOT the source of all her problems who only SEEMS to be dead?
-why would a king hold a celebration that takes place once every six years and which testifies his power in front of a bunch of slaves and not of all his subjects?
and most of all:
WHY does Jack like Saba?
Which takes me back to the last problem: characterization.
With the exception of Saba, who is a well formed, albeit unlikable character, I thought the other characters fell a bit flat. I felt that JUST AS they started to become interesting, something happened and they were interesting no more.
Take Jack for example: from cocky bastard he turns into besotted idiot. And for the life of me I could not understand why he became so enamored of Saba. She is so inconsistent and fickle, so apparently unexperienced, rather morbidly fixated with Lugh... I admired her stubbornness and her ability to hold her own but why Jack would be so in love with her... not a clue.
And I won't even talk about Lugh.
I am sure all my questions will be answered in the sequel(s) to this book, but I need them NOW. Their absence is enough not to make want to pick up the sequel to this.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2012
I read in a blog a recommendation of Blood Read Road for those who liked Grave Mercy. Why, I wonder? These two books have nothing in common.
In Blood Red Road there's no quotation marks (" ") to distinguish dialogue which makes it a little difficult to follow but it is something that you can quickly get used to once you get the hang of it.
Seba is the twin sister of Lugh and he means the world to her. They live with their father and little sister Emmi in a deserted land where the nearest neighbor is four leagues away.
Their father can read the future in the stars but, what is this gift good for if he cannot do anything to change what he sees coming?
One day, riders show up in the middle of a sand storm to take Lugh away. Why? All that is clear is that they want him because he was born in midwinter. Of course, Seba being his twin was born in midwinter too, but they are not interested in her. Again, why? So the riders take Lugh, kill their father and leave Seba and Emmi behind.
Of course Seba sets out to find Lugh... and here start the similarities with Arena One (The Survival Trilogy) by Morgan Rice.
In fact, Blood Red Road is so much like Arena One that I had to go back to the cover and title to make sure what book I was actually reading.
Seba is taken prisoner for cage fighting in a coliseum. Of course she wins all the fights and soon becomes to be known as the Angel of Death because she kills anyone who fights against her. How can Saba, a girl who was raised in a shelter win every cage fight? When, and I mean on what page of the book, did she develop the skills to make her a winner? And for someone who had never been among people other than her immediate family, she sure is not afraid of strangers! Aren't you even a bit shy when facing a crowd? Well, all I can say is that Seba is an apocalyptic future Xena: the warrior princes!
How can a book that started with so much promise become another girl-fight novel escapes me...
What I liked: the dialect. It reminds me of the series Chaos Walking. Both Young and Ness create a unique world with their own dialect that if not easily followed at first but it definitely distinguishes the book and makes it different. And yes, once you get into it, it becomes totally enjoyable.
How does Seba escape her prisoners? What happens to little Emmi? Does she find Lugh?
All this is revealed in a book that lost its appeal to me. But if you are a fan Arena One and that type of books you are going to love Blood Red Road.
Note: and why is this book even compared to Hunger Games? It seems to me that every book with a badass girl that fights it's being compared to Katniss. No, no and no. This has nothing like Hunger Games in it...
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Blood Red Road is a young adult novel and, as an old adult, I'm not part of its target demographic. I thought I might like it anyway; I still enjoy the Heinlein juveniles I was reading as a kid and I'm generally a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction. Blood Red Road is apparently a post-apocalyptic story (we're told that reading and writing have largely become lost skills) but the nature of the apocalyptic event is never revealed. Although the characters seem human enough, it's not even clear to me that this story takes place on Earth; I can't imagine any sort of apocalypse that would produce giant carnivorous Dune-style sandworms (recast as "hellwurms," these have legs and claws). Too much in this novel is left unexplained, perhaps because no credible explanation could be concocted (e.g., what kind of weapon is a "bolt shooter" and how does it work in the absence of a power source?). The gaps in narrative logic are one of many reasons the novel just didn't work for me.
Eighteen-year-old Saba has always blamed her nine-year-old sister Emmi for their mother's death during childbirth. When their father dies while trying to prevent five horsemen from stealing her twin brother Lugh, Saba suddenly finds herself in charge of Emmi's welfare. She twice tries to dump Emmi on the only responsible adults she can find so that she can rescue Lugh, but she can't rid herself of Emmi that easily (after all, the conventions to which the novel adheres require Saba to learn to love her kid sister). Saba undergoes a couple of ordeals that test her mettle as she tracks down her brother's captors. She also falls in love with the guy she keeps pretending to hate.
My most significant gripe about this novel is its utter predictability. Saba's adventures are predictable, the love story is predictable, and Saba learns predictable lessons like "nobody asks to be born into this world" and "never give up." The story is too shallow to generate interest, much less dramatic tension. Although Saba lives in a violent world, the violence she experiences is so far from graphic that it's difficult to take seriously. That's probably a plus for impressionable young adults but the muted tone robs the story of its potential power.
Another complaint: there are elements in the story that border on fantasy, from a "heartstone" that grows warm when Saba is "near her heart's desire" to a pet crow that might be the smartest character in the book. So is this a realistic story of a post-apocalyptic future or a fantasy romance? I think it tries to be both and doesn't succeed very well at either one.
I give Moira Young credit for having her characters speak in a consistent voice, but I found the voice troubling. It resembles the language spoken by the less educated characters in a TV western crossed with the language spoken by TV hillbillies. (In fact, Young's characters sound like they're imitating the characters on Firefly -- a wonderfully funny show that exploits that style of speaking for comedic effect.) Language would change after an apocalyptic event but it would evolve into something new; words like "britches" that have all but disappeared from our vocabulary would not make a sudden reappearance.
In short, I thought the novel was predictable, unoriginal and unconvincing. On a positive note, the story moves along at a quick pace and Young's writing style is lively. For those reasons, young readers might enjoy it -- particularly those who haven't been exposed to truly well-written examples of post-apocalyptic fiction and who might not realize that Blood Red Road suffers from comparison. To be fair, the marketing materials claim the book is appropriate for readers who are 14 or older. To a 14-year-old looking for a post-apocalyptic love story, I might recommend the novel; to other readers, not so much. If I could, I would give it 2 1/2 stars.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2013
I am not going to finish reading this book. I just can't continue to read the narrative as written. The narrative voice/grammar is grating on my nerves and I no longer care what happens to the character. Saba, the main character is annoying from the beginning of the book. I wouldn't order this online. Go to a book store and flip through the first chapter. If I had done that, I would have skipped this book. Maybe I would watch the movie.
23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2011
Blood Red Road starts off really pretty good. The writing is written in the main character's dialect: uneducated ignorant hick language. Some reviewers did not like this language/writing style; however, I found that it really brought the main character's story to life and really made you feel as if you were seeing what she (Saba) saw and feeling what she felt.
My problem with Blood Red Road is how unbelievable/ridiculous it became. Saba's brother is taken by some armed horsemen, and she sets off after them. She crosses a massive desert (about a week across) meets the King's mother on a land-wind-ship (with no armed guards), is poisoned by said mother and sold to a cage master where she has to fight other girls in 1vs1 hand to hand combat. The fights are never described, just that Saba wins every fight. Go Saba.
Saba then escapes the cage master/prison with the help of a group of rebels - called the freedom hawks. Who waltz into the city, and rescue Saba and all the fighters right out from underneath the king's nose, who's armed guards are nowhere to be found. The writing does not go into detail, just says what happens. Saba literally climbs on top of the cage and jumps out of the stadium to escape. As if no one else had ever thought of this route of escape. It's a cakewalk. And ridiculous. The 50 freedom hawks blow stuff up and burn the city down. None of it is described, the author just says that it happens. It's pretty boring. Saba wins. Go Saba.
It get's even worse when Saba escapes the city with the Nighthawks. The landwindship comes after them, not with an armed guard of soldiers to kill these rebels. No, that would be too realistic. Instead, the King himself and the king's mother come after them. Saba bravely says, "this is my fight," and proceeds to shoot the person steering the landship with a single shot, causing the ship to lose control and crash. This kills all aboard. King is dead. GG. Go Saba. So amazing.
This book seems written for a 10 year old, yet it is filled with violence and anger and revenge. I would not recommend this to anyone above 10 years old, and I would not recommend this book for a child as it's themes and morals are not what children should be taught.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Blood Red Road, by author Moira Young is one of the latest editions to the YA dystopian genre that's taking readers by storm. The characters of Young's dry and dusty world will stick with you long after finishing.
In the first few pages we meet Saba and her family - twin brother Lugh, little sister Emmi and their father - who live a meager life on the rim of a dying, if not pretty much dead lake. It's a harsh life, as is any life within a dystopian world. They live day to day, waiting for rain that might not ever come.
Saba takes her strength from her brother. She follows his lead and works hard to do her part. Lugh is the golden boy - so to speak and does all he can for both of his sisters. Their father has been somewhat of a lost soul since their mother passed away years earlier. Then there's the youngest child, Emmi, nine, who is just trying to find her way in the family.
When a big red cloud comes fast and furious across the dry lake bed, none of them could imagine what was about to happen next.
I thought that Saba was strong at the beginning of the book, but she's a different person at the end. She was stubborn, hard headed and fiercely determined. To me, she's the epitome of a heroine in the ever growing popularity in the dystopian genre. She faces everything with the same strength and stubbornness, but grows because of it and her family and the other people she meets along her journey.
Jack is one of those people she meets along the way. He's a character to say the least. He challenges Saba and while the two tend to butt heads, there's more to it than meets the eye. I loved Jack! It's all about the push and pull to their relationship that I couldn't get enough of. There is a bit of romance to the story, but it's something that's in the background.
The writing took me awhile to get use to. It wasn't anything I'd experienced in other books to this extent. I'd have to say it was more the narrative of Saba that was a struggle at the beginning. Once I got use to it, it wasn't anything I even noticed as much. However, it fits the characters and the world that Young has created.
All in all, Blood Red Road is filled with some amazingly strong characters in a bleak environment. Young's story and characters are ready to take the genre by storm. I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially fans of the dystopian genre. And for me, the long wait begins for the next book in the Dustlands series. Enjoy!
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2011
I was reluctant to read this one. Not sure exactly why. I saw it being promoted around its release date and read some reviews, but something made me hesitant. I eventually acquiesced and bought a copy.
Now that I have finished it, I am willing to admit that it was a decent story with some truly likeable characters. However, the writing style/language was a huge distraction for me. It's written in what some are calling a poetic or prose style. But, as far as I'm concerned, it's written in a backwoods, backwards English that made my grammar driven mind cringe. I can honestly say that it took till the very end of the book for the bad English not to interfere with my reading of this book. I just don't see how the writing style added to the book. Though I thought the story was gripping and exciting, I wish I would have just gotten it from the library rather than spending money on it.
Saba and Luce are twins who live out in the desert with their half crazy Pa and little sister Emmi. When Luce is kidnapped, Saba swears that she will find him. Saba tries to dump Emmi with an old friend of her mother's, but Emmi ends up following Saba and the two must find a way to put up with each other. They set out on their search and end up on quite the adventure, meeting both friends and enemies along the way.