Blood Red Road

Apparently, the sequel is out (and the teacher I work with has it), so I felt this might be the perfect time to review Moira Young’s debut young adult novel, Blood Red Road. Since it’s a dystopian novel, I volunteered to add it to my reading list – even though I didn’t really have extra time on hand for reading.

The librarian who recommended this book to our book group compared it to The Hunger Games. I see very few similarities. In fact, except for the use of dialect writing, Young’s book surpasses Collins’ best-seller in every way.

First of all, Saba, the 18-year-old protagonist, trumps Katniss. Saba might not have the ability to shoot arrows like Katniss, but she has something Katniss lacks – a determined purpose. Saba’s strong character compelled me to connect with her and read on to learn how she would solve her problems.

Wouldn’t you agree that Katniss seemed driven by her circumstances? Even at the end of the series, she was unsure what would truly make her content. She’d decided to willingly settle for whatever came her way.

Not so, Saba. When her twin brother is kidnapped, she sets out to rescue him. Her only plan is to rid herself of the burden of her 9-year-old sister and follow the tracks of the horsemen who stole him away.

Unfortunately, Saba has no experience with the “real world.” Her father kept them in an isolated area far from the remnants of so-called “civilization.” If this isn’t enough to hamper her quest, the fact that her little sister is just as stubborn as Saba adds conflict and complications.

Even though this is the first book in a series, it satisfies. The main problem in this story is solved at the end. Sure, there are enough loose ends to keep people reading the next book, but it offered its own catharsis. This is something I’ve learned more about during my play writing workshop (perhaps more on this later).

I wouldn’t recommend this book to any of my students who struggle with reading. The fact that Young uses phonetic spellings to add distinctiveness to her prose would hinder their ability to read and enjoy the story. I was able to adapt to the style (though I’m still debating if it served a purpose) and read the book quickly.

I highly recommend it to fans of dystopian novels. Young’s world resembles what “could be” enough that it doesn’t need tons of extra description. When she introduces new places, though, she does so with verve and keeps the action going at the same time. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel almost as much as I’m looking forward to the conclusive novel in Michael Grant’s Gone series.

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