Blood Red Road by Moira Young
|Blood Red Road by Moira Young|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Fabulous quest novel set in a future dystopian society and in the current vogue style of a revenge Western. It's beautifully done in spare prose and has a marvellous central character. Bookbag loved it.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 544||Date: June 2011|
|Publisher: Marion Lloyd|
|External links: Author's website|
Saba has lived in the desolation surrounding the dried-up Silverlake for all of her eighteen years. The family has just one neighbour - a chaal addict, so not exactly sociable - so Saba's only companions are her father, her twin brother Lugh, and younger sister Emmi. Saba worships Lugh, resents Emmi for their mother's death in childbirth, and is confused by her father, who believes he can read the future in the stars. But it's all she knows and as long as Lugh is close, she's happy enough.
But that all changes when the Tonton soldiers arrive, abduct Lugh, and kill Pa. Saba finds herself on a quest to rescue him and it will take her through the ruined world left by the Wreckers (that'll be us). She'll endure life as a slave cage-fighter, try and fail to shake off the resented Emmi, fall in with a band of Amazonian women rebels, and see the cost of drug addiction at the closest of quarters. Spikey, quick to judge, full of bravado, she'll also avoid love of every kind until she begins to learn that it's the only thing that can save her - any of us.
Written in a sparse, spare style that fits the bleak setting perfectly, and with a first-person narration that gets us right inside Saba's skin from the very first page, I absolutely loved reading Blood Red Road. The feel is that of a revenge Western - in this book, America's future is as lawless as its mythic past. But Saba gets a great deal across in her chopped-down style and I loved her as a character. The pace is relentless and you feel her urgency in every word. And this ruined future world rises from the pages with a raw and vivid energy. And I can't imagine a single reader that won't fall in love with Nero, the perspicacious crow. It's great stuff, it really is.
I've given Blood Red Road five stars - this is because it ticks all my favourite boxes: dystopian setting; future catastrophe; pared-down writing; the flashes of sweetness life gives you, no matter how harsh your environment. I love pretty, poetic things in ugly, violent surroundings. They give me hope. But I admit the book isn't perfect. Lugh, the object of the quest, remains pretty much a cipher, and I would like to have seen him fleshed out, even in his absence. Some of the supporting cast are a little bit two-dimensional and the final sequence loses a little bit of momentum through several mini-climaxes rather than one big one.
But I don't care about any of these things anywhere near as much as I care about the fabulous, page-turning time I had reading it. So there. As a new entrant into this popular dystopian genre, Blood Red Road is going to win more than a few followers. And it will deserve them.
My thanks to the good people at Marion Lloyd for sending the book.
If they liked this, they'll also love the superb Chaos Walking sequence by Patrick Ness - everyone should read it! For a similar setting with some zombies thrown in for good measure, we can also recommend Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is another good read along these lines.
You can read more book reviews or buy Blood Red Road by Moira Young at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Blood Red Road by Moira Young at Amazon.com.
Blood Red Road by Moira Young is in the Costa Prize 2011.
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