Blood Red Road
London, Scholastic, 2011, 417p
Hailed as the new Hunger Games, Moira Young's Dustland trilogy is a journey across a desert as Saba searches for her stolen brother, Lugh.
Blood Red Road is set in a dystopian world where Saba and her family live in the middle of a vast desert, miles from any other people. Lugh wants to get out, to see what is out in the world, but their father insists it is unsafe, reading danger in the stars. Then one day, Lugh is stolen by dark-robed men on horses, and Saba, lost without her twin, sets out to find him.
Saba's journey is a fast paced action story, full of obstacles and drama. She is a brave and stubborn protagonist - she will stop at nothing to be reunited with her brother. However, she is incredibly inexperienced, and thus unprepared for the evil out in the wider world. I love the way she grows and matures along the journey, becoming more willing to allow others to help her and join her. There is also an element of romance in the novel, though Saba strives to resist it.
The book is written in an unusual dialect - at first, it is somewhat difficult to read. The accent reflects Saba's lack of formal education, as her spelling is phonetic. Thus, the tag line for this book is
"I ain't afeared of nuthin"As such, it is not a great novel in terms of teaching new words or phrases. Of course, it makes the plot more convincing, and adds context to this post-apocalyptic world, but it will not teach young people to improve their spelling or expand their vocabulary.
I wish I had found Blood Red Road to be a more gripping read. I loved the pretense for it, and the world Moira Young has created is enthralling and terrifying; but I wanted a more fast-paced, less predictable story. And yet, I have very high hopes for the rest of the trilogy.