YA Fiction, Dystopian
Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when four cloaked horsemen capture Lugh, Saba’s world is shattered, and she embarks on a quest to get him back.
I almost put this book down. Several times. Young has a very… different writing style than what I am used to and from what I expect in books. First, there’s no quotation marks on the dialog. Two, it’s written in the uneducated dialect of the characters, and uses “jest” instead of “just,” and “yer” instead of “your/you’re,” and “gawd” instead of “god.” Annoyed yet? I was after the first page.
I get that the dialect solidified the education (lack of) of the characters and of the world they lived in, but come on – the book would have been just as good, if not better, had it been written normally. Yeah, I know it showed that though Saba didn’t have any formal education and couldn’t read, she was still smart. But.
My problem is – that’s how trashy white people talk. And I find that dialect very, very, very unattractive.
Saba also doesn’t do a lot of narration – hardly any of it. The narration is straight forward. No purple prose. Not even pink prose. Which is something that I liked and disliked about this book. It didn’t use metaphors to describe the world – it showed it like it was. It made the book very readable, but also very dry and flat.
Beyond the bad-on-purpose grammar and wonky writing style, the story in the book is what kept me reading. Saba must leave the only place in the world she’s ever known to find and save her twin brother. To do so, she jumps headfirst into the world beyond what she knows, into a place called Hopetown where this very crack-like drug keeps the people under control and the “king” in charge. While Saba only cares about getting her brother back, her new friends (a band of women known as the Free Hawks and the love interested, Jack) want to dismantle the tyranny that’s ruining the land.
The story read more like an epic adventure than the typical “dystopian” story. We explore the world one step at a time, meet an array of characters, see fantastic beasts (and fight them), and gather a band of heroes.
Characters – Saba took a while to get “into.” All that she wants is to find her brother, and to be honest, her obsession with her brother is a little… creepy. I get that he’s literally the only person she’s known, they’ve not been apart since birth, and he’s her best friend. It just kind of… felt weird to me. But… Saba’s kind of a bitch. I like her, but at the same time I don’t.
During her journey, Saba tries to leave her little sister with a neighbor, because who wants to take a nine year old on a journey? But Emmi consistently doesn’t listen and gets in the way – but then. Emmi grows into her own character. She is growing up and learning to defend herself and her own – and that character development was fantastic.
I also felt that there were too many tropes – like when Saba fell into the river, of course there’s a waterfall. When she sent the bird back to get the Free Hawks, of course they’re going to arrive at the last second to save the day. The ending just… it was boring. I found myself skipping because I didn’t care anymore. Just get it over with.
And then it had to go do the typical YA trope of “which character has to die so the MC can have emotional scarring” thing. I honestly – not to spoil too much – but when that one character died – I groaned.
Blood Red Road (Dust Lands #1) overall scored a 4 out of 5. The story felt like an epic adventure, which I loved. The grammar threw me of. I can’t say if I’m going to be picking the rest of this series up. I might, but not right away. By the time I got to the end, I was ready for it to be over – the book felt too long.