Monday, July 23, 2012
Blood Red Road
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011
I want to start with something I'm very glad I knew before picking up this book. It is written in its own distinct dialect that is not the traditional proper English. "Ain't"s, "cain't"s, and dropped "g"s abound in this book. While this is something that normally bothers me, I think it helped that I was prepared. It also helped that the language is very phonetic. I could hear it so clearly in my head and I imagine this could be a really good audiobook, depending on the narrator(s).
That said, let's move on to setting, characters, and plot. The setting is the distant future with a family out in the hinterlands, at least a day's ride from other people. Father, twins Lugh and Saba, and youngest child Emmi are barely surviving in the parched landscape until a mysterious group of men kidnap Lugh and leave their father dead. Now Saba will do anything to bring back her beloved brother and this sets her off on an epic quest.
Saba is the main character and boy is she prickly! My least favorite thing about her was her dislike of her younger sister, who she blames for the death of their mother. While acknowledging the realism of that, it's the opposite of how I feel about my younger sister (who I adore) so it was painful to read at times. She is really mean to Emmi who, to her credit, never gives up and is very much in the mold of her older sister with her incredible stubbornness and perseverance. But beyond that, Saba is strong, not just physically but emotionally and mentally. She undergoes terrible traumas on her journey to save Lugh and always keeps her head up for the next moment.
However, sometimes the plot seemed to almost stall, lingering in one place instead of high-octane action all the time. And a lot of things seemed too easy, too coincidental and it made it hard for me to suspend my disbelief. The big climax at the end with rescuing Lugh felt too short and I wanted to be blown back by the suspense and excitement, whereas I was able to put down this book at several critical junctures without feeling too much loss.
One last element to mention and not to spoil anything for you but there is a bit of romance...and I loved it! I found the male love interest a little rogueish in the best possible way and I love how Saba kept pushing him away despite the obvious signs of interest. She knew there was something about him, a cocky smile, the way he pokes through her defenses, and the way he lives by his wits. I really liked him as a love interest and as a character.
Overall: Really good-I enjoyed the journey a lot and I am happy to discover there is a sequel due out later this year titled Rebel Heart.
Cover: I think the cover is very evocative of the dusty setting; the sand plays a critical role at multiple parts of the story.