Review: Blood Red Road

Review: Blood Red RoadBlood Red Road by Moira Young
Series: Dust Lands Trilogy #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry on June 7, 2011
Genres: Adventure, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
Pages: 459
Format: Hardcover
Source: Won
Goodreads
five-stars

Saba lives in Silverlake, a wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms where her family scavenge from landfills left by the long-gone Wrecker civilization. After four cloaked horsemen kidnap her beloved twin brother Lugh, she teams up with daredevil Jack and the Free Hawks, a girl gang of Revolutionaries.

Saba learns that she is a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Saba and her new friends stage a showdown that change the course of her civilization.

First Sentence: “Lugh got born first.”

Review:
Y’all know that I jest cain’t stand dialect. Them books is the worst. I espect good and proper writin. All them misspellins and such jest get my goat. I ain’t never liked one and I ain’t never thought I could. I probly should of not even read this but I’m powerful stubborn. Turns out Blood Red Road’s ezzackly as it should be.

I hardly expected to like this book, let alone love it. Dialect really does annoy the ever-lovin heck out of me. It’s distracting, unpleasant, gives me a headache and slows me down as a reader. Basically, it’s torture, plain and simple. Well, apparently, it can be done right. Moira Young has proved that and left me speechless, so it’s a good thing I’m typing my review rather than vlogging it. I don’t quite know precisely why her dialect works so much better, but I am plum grateful for sure that she didn’t put apostrophes in place of every dropped g (ex. runnin, fightin, etc). By the end of the book, I didn’t even have to work to process the text; I was completely sucked into the story, something that’s never happened to me with dialect before.

Writing in dialect was not the only bold stylistic choice Moira Young made, and it’s not even the boldest. She made the really odd decision not to use quotation marks. There are none in this book. However, that’s not because there’s no dialogue; in fact, there’s plenty of it.. She doesn’t mark the dialogue in any way, except by he says or I says, but even those aren’t on every bit of dialogue. Rarely did I have any issue distinguishing dialogue from narration. The fact that she did this and the result emerged easily comprehensible speaks volumes to her massive talent.

This novel has some of the best characterization I have ever encountered. There is not a single character in this book that’s around for more than a page that doesn’t feel just as real as you or me. Their personalities are all distinct and vibrant. They leap off the page or, perhaps, pull you into the pages to spend time with them. The story had to be told with dialect, because that’s who the characters are. They don’t know how to read or write; they only know how to speak and that’s how most people talk in this strange post-apocalytpic world.

Speaking to that, I have no clue what happened to the world, none at all. Either we’re somewhere out west near a lot of deserts or something’s happened to cause less rain, because most everything is arid, parched, harsh. What technology exists comes from the time before. Knowledge has been lost. Few people are familiar with book learning, and I suspect fewer still will in a couple of generations.

In case that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also an evil, crazy king, whose mission in life is to take over this dusty world. Guys, let me tell you: he is creepy as all hell, like Louis, the Sun King, meets Henry VIII and his festering wounds. GROSS. Plus, he has his troops, the Tontons (which I have to try really hard not to picture as tauntauns – they’re people). More mysteriously, there’s his right-hand man, DeMalo, handsome and haughty. There’s something to him and I want to know more.

At the beginning of Blood Red Road, Saba doesn’t know hardly anyone but her family. In her whole life, she’s met just three other people. She’s not bothered though, because that’s just how life is. There’s her pa, who claims to be able to read the stars, her twin brother Lugh, the light of her life, and her little sister Emmi, who she hates for having caused their mother’s death (childbirth). Saba doesn’t start out as an especially likable character. She hero-worships her brother and is a right terror to her sister, so much so that even I thought she was being seriously awful.

Men on horseback show up, kidnap Lugh, kill her Pa, and ride away, leaving her behind with a useless sister and desert land. She has no purpose in life but to rescue her brother. As she goes, she keeps trying to leave her sister behind (with good people to look after her) but Emmi, just as stubborn as her sister, is having none of it. Along the way, as mentioned in the blurb, Saba picks up more people, like Jack and the Free Hawks, a badass group of women.

Though I want to leave most everything for you to experience on your own, I just have to comment on the perfection that is the evolution of relationships in this book. Saba’s relationship with her sister changes ever so slowly, the character arc so believable. So too is Saba’s slow evolution to being able to trust people that aren’t Lugh. Then, there’s the romance, which made my toes curl. Saba, not being trusting, has no desire for romance and fights it just like she fights anyone who tries to kill her or hurt Lugh. This allows for a perfect slow burn. She and Jack have amazing chemistry; I just love the way he teases her. *swoons*

If Moira Young can make me love a book written in dialect, the same could happen to you. If you like post-apocalytpic novels at all, do not miss out on this one. You would be cheating yourself of serious awesomeness. Also, my birthday is coming up (September 14), in case anyone wants to send me a copy of the second book as a present. 😉

Favorite Quote:

“Because everythin’s set. It’s all fixed.
The lives of everybody who’s ever bin born.
The lives of everybody still waitin to be born.
It was all set in the stars the moment the world began. The time of yer birthin, the time of yer death. Even what kinda person yer gonna be, good or bad.
If you know how to read the starss, you can read the story of people’s lives. The story of yer own life. What’s gone, what’s now an what’s to come.”

40 responses to “Review: Blood Red Road”

  1. This has been on my TBR-list forever! And unlike you, the whole dialect thing makes me even more excited. I’m not sure what’s the reason for my excitement. Probably the fact that I loved Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go so much, and it’s a book written entirely in dialect too. ^^

    I think I might read this one in the nearest future then. Thank you for this great review and I’m so glad you liked it!

    • Christina says:

      I tried reading The Knife of Never Letting Go once and promptly gave up. I do plan to try again, though. Forewarned is forearmed, right? I had no idea it was dialect until I started.

      You should!

  2. I’m so glad you liked this book. I loved it when I read it. I agree with what you said about the characters. Everyone of them was believable and real. I can’t wait for another. I hope there is another! I didn’t look to see if she is writing one!

  3. YES!!!! *jumping up and down* I ADORE this book! SO so glad you loved it! and we are on the same wave about DeMalo – he is much more that it’s shown to us. Very intriguing character. Crazily good review, one of the best on this book! *hugs*

    • Christina says:

      See? I do like books sometimes! I really, really do! I feel like DeMalo could be awesomeness of Darkling proportions later on. Or maybe that’s just me.

      Thanks so much, doll!

  4. aLilLacey says:

    The dialect really wasn’t an issue? I had a hard time with just reading the favorite quote. The story sounds like an awesome girl-kicks-everyone’s-butt read though.

  5. This was a favorite read of mine from last year. It made the top ten list I do at the end of the year. I’m glad you liked it. I have an ARC of book two and I hope it’s as good as the first one.

  6. I’ve heard many good things about this book. I think I can request it through inter-library loan 🙂

  7. Nori says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I am so happy you finally finished this! Love, love this book! I had a feeling the dialect would bother you tons, but I’m so glad you finished it and loved it. It was one of my favorite books of 2011.

  8. Lilian says:

    I didn’t like the book as much as I wanted to. But I am glad you loved it! (FIVE STARS! WHOOOT!) The dialect just bothered me throughout the novel.
    I just found the story too predictable for my tastes. And whatever I wanted to know got resolved by the end, so I don’t know if I would even want to read the sequel.
    ..now that I think of it, I forgot what I thought about this one.
    *reads my review to see what I thought of it*

    Ah, apparently I hated Lugh. So…he was just waiting around to be saved by his younger sister? *sigh* And because he took Tommo’s bow.

    And I have to agree with realistic quality of the characters. Even though I can’t say I like Saba, I admire her fierce fighting skills. It’s how she treats her sister that had me a bit disgusted with her, but it’s her attitude towards her sister that allowed me to relate to her. Emmi is one annoying chick sometimes and can be dead weight. Especially when she doesn’t do as she’s told.

    I never took the king seriously after he was described as the Sun King. A guy with jeweled high heels? in this day and age? O_O

    I do want to figure out how the father with his stars and fortune-telling abilities plays into all of this though.

    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

    • Lilian says:

      OH yes, and a funny thing with this book: I read a library copy, then after I finished I won a giveaway for this book…AND then I got another copy because I won a box of mystery books with Blood Red Road included. So now I have both the hardcover and paperback (I much prefer the paperback cover). I wish I received the book before I finished reading a library copy. Now I have two copies of a book I already read, but I’m too much of a boo hoard to donate. Maybe the book gods are bent on making me reread it?

    • Christina says:

      Oh yeah, I didn’t care much about Lugh either, but he wasn’t in the book much, so meh. He didn’t bother me. If she didn’t care about him so much, she wouldn’t have had those adventures, so good job being a wimp, Lugh! I also liked that at the end, he acknowledged that he wasn’t the best anymore, that Saba had surpassed him in everything. Besides, it’s not like it’s lame for a GIRL to save a BOY.

      When she doesn’t do as she’s told? That implies she does sometimes! That girl never does. She’s like Castle in the amount that she won’t stay where you put her. Yeah, even I thought Emmi was overly cruel to her sister, and you know how I feel about chilluns.

      Well, it wouldn’t be THIS day in age. The dude was insane and had read just enough history to be dangerous. Those clothes were a status symbol: I can afford frippery and you cannot! Also, those clothes are good for covering up his nastiness and how old he’s getting underneath.

      Right? I know that must come into it some more later. I’m guessing we’ll find out from the friend they went to stay with in the beginning? It seems like they were part of some group, which might have something to do with star reading.

      I wish you had two copies of book two instead, so that you could give one to me. I prefer the hardback cover! It’s perfect for the book. *glares*

    • Lilian says:

      “Besides, it’s not like it’s lame for a GIRL to save a BOY.”
      I concur (this word sounds opposite of what it means..O_O), it definitely isn’t not. It’s just wimpy for a guy to wait to be saved by a girl who may not even come for him. I still blame him for Tommo’s death.

      I know you hate babies. So do 9 year olds fall into that category too?
      I know she listened when they were in that cage-fighting mess. It was her only useful moment. If only she stayed in that fores tplace with that lady.

      “Also, those clothes are good for covering up his nastiness and how old he’s getting underneath.”
      O_O HOW YOU KNOW THAT? History major? or were you one of his servants in your past lives? *dun dun dun* *o*

      Well then, if I do end up with a paperback and a hardback of the second book, then it will work out well. You can have your hardback while I keep the paperback. (but I think they have the same cover now)
      YOU CAN BARELY SEE SABA IN THE HARDCOVER. I did want a cover to show her bald though That would be badass.
      Though I admit, the hardback does fit the desert..dry feel of the book.

      I BENT MY NAIL…AHHHHHHH. AND THE AC BROKE ON CAMPUS. SO HOT. UGH.

    • Christina says:

      “It definitely isn’t not.” Wait. What? POOR TOMMO. He was awesome.

      Right? She should have stayed with the old lady. I’m not a huge fan of children, but they’re better than babies. At least Emmi is capable of rational thought, even though she generally ignores it.

      HISTORY MAJOR. Also, I’ve seen pictures.

      Sweet. GET TWO COPIES! It would have been BADASS if she were bald, like in V for Vendetta. Yes. They should have done that.

      ON ALL OF CAMPUS? GO TO STARBUCKS.

    • Lilian says:

      YOU MUST FORGIVE MY TYPOS. I am sleep deprived and sweating on campus with a broken AC. hmph. IT should’ve been: It definitely isn’t.
      IT’S BECAUSE LUGH LEFT HIM WITH A STUPID SLINGSHOT. WHAT THE HECK?

      OKAY. You’re the history major!

      I guess not many girls are willing to go bald. I can just imagine all the “do you have cancer?” stares.

      STARBUCKS IS SO FREAKIN’ EXPENSIVE. FIVE BUCKS FOR A FRAPP??!! AHHH!! And it’s also insanely popular (they just opened one branch smack in the middle of campus) and ALWAYS has a ridiculously long line.

    • Christina says:

      Go for the AC not the coffee!

    • Lilian says:

      THAT PLACE IS SO TINY! AND OTHER PEOPLE ARE ALREADY THERE!

    • Lilian says:

      besides, don’t you feel cheap when you hog a space without buying anything?

    • Christina says:

      Well, yeah, I would probably buy something. Five bucks would be worth it for hours of AC. Also, how hot is it there?

    • Lilian says:

      Well, the AC is fixed (actually, I think it wad the power outage that was the cause of all this) so it’s all COLD again! *shudders*
      Living in Hawaii makes me think everything is much colder. I am sure nobody else would even flinch. I can just imagine them thinking, “Ha! this weather is beach weather!”

    • Christina says:

      That’s why asked for temperature, you silly goose!

    • Lilian says:

      You think I carry a thermometer in my pocket or something, YOU silly goose!

    • Christina says:

      Have you met the internet? It can tell you TEMPERATURES. Oh wait, you’re on the internet RIGHT NOW!

    • Lilian says:

      The Internet can tell me the temperature of the broken-AC room I was in? I DON’T THINK SO. Unless there’s some super secret stalker website…or there’s a thermometer embedded in my laptop!

    • Christina says:

      I just meant in Hawaii. I mean, the room shouldn’t be THAT much hotter than outside, unless it’s a kitchen or a boiler room or a server room or something.

    • Lilian says:

      It’s just a room sealed tight without windows. I guess they didn’t want to let the AC out. So it was very stuffy. Very Stuffy with a snoring Santa Claus looking hobo.

      My poor life.

  9. KM says:

    I actually tend to like books written in dialect. It takes some getting used to at the beginning of the novel, but once you’re sorta in the groove of it, I think it’s the best means for characterization. (It is hard when you don’t understand stuff, though. I struggle with Zora Hurston for example because her dialect is so strong.)

    Lack of quotation marks on the other hand…sorta annoying lol

    • Christina says:

      I see what you mean and, in theory, I agree. It can let you be closer to the character. Usually, though, I just can’t take it. I’m not sure why. I think it may be because I have to translate everything written in dialect into proper english as I’m reading, so it takes forever and gives me a headache.

      Yeah, I really don’t know why she made that particular stylistic choice. It wasn’t really a problem, but I don’t know what reason there could be for it.

  10. Goodness do I love the Free Hawks! AND NERO THE CROW!

    Also? It thrills me to no end that you loved Blood Red Road despite the dialect and the lack of quotations marks.

    I really absolutely thought the characterization was excellent in Blood Red Road as well. Sigh. I can’t wait for the next book.

    • Christina says:

      Oh man, there was too much to talk about, but I also ADORED the Free Hawks and Nero was the BEST.

      Right? I was impressed. If you can get me all caught up in a book that is so stylistically antithetical to my tastes, you get an automatic 5.

      MUST HAVE NEXT BOOK.

  11. M.A.D. says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed Blood Red Road! I have to admit that I, too, typically loathe dialect/phonetics in books (‘After the Snow’ drove me nuts lol) – but the plot pulled me along in BRR enough so’s tha I ‘jes din’t notice s’ much! 😀

    Mary DeBorde M.A.D.

  12. I am so excited this book got a movie deal with none other than Ridley Scott. I hope it doesn’t suck.

    I pre-ordered it from my friends credit car(before I got my own)way back but never got the copy. Now I have the Rebel Heart and still no sign of Blood Red Road. *sigh*

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