Vinaya's Reviews > Blood Red Road

Blood Red Road by Moira Young
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Apr 29, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: arc-galley, books-i-liked, books-i-ought-to-love-but-dont, dystopian-fiction, post-apocalyptic-fiction
Recommended to Vinaya by: Michelle R

The whole time I was reading Blood Red Road, there was a part of me standing away and thinking — where is it? Where is the part that's going to twist me up and spit me out? Where's that intense feeling that marks a book I truly loved? Tragically, I never did reach that part.

In part, my expectations are to blame. I read too many reviews and they all loved the book so much, I think I was expecting it to be as spectacular as the Second Coming of Christ. My expectations were pretty much sky high, and this book had to pay for their unrealistic nature. But the other part of it is all on Moira Young.

Unlike a lot of other readers, I had no problem with the dialect. I've read books with way harder dialects, and this one was an easy transition. The problem wasn't so much with the dialect as it was with the sparsity of the prose. There were sentences. Very short sentences. With no description. Which is one of the biggest reasons why I never really felt connected to the book. I wanted heat and fire and passion - what I got was a terse factual recitation of the surroundings. Some authors, notably Marillier, have a talent for using a few words and pulling you into their world. This is not a talent Moira Young possesses. I knew there was a desert, vast and unending; I knew there was a bunch of mountains and forests. But I never felt the burning heat of the sun on red baked land, or the dark shadows of the green trees in the deep forest.

If there was one thing I cannot fault Young on, it's her characterizations. Saba has a very distinctive voice, one that managed to single-handedly earn this book 3.5 stars. This book is full of kick-ass woman and children. Saba is so beautifully flawed; and the joy of finding a character who can be petty and self-absorbed and mean but still courageous and vulnerable and loyal is almost painful. This is the sort of woman we need more of in YA lit. Saba is a better role model than the damsels-in-distress that populate YA paranormals. And none of the other women in the book are any less, either. From nine-year old Emmi to the tough-yet-friendly Hawks, no-one is less than capable of taking care of themselves and their group.

Emmi was great, and I sort-of wanted to hurt Saba for being such a bitch to her; one of my favourite scenes in the book is when Jack stands up to Saba and calls her on her lack of feeling for Emmi, saying that he thinks Emmi would be safer with him than with Saba. Jack was my absolute favourite character in the story. Despite not having a voice, his personality emerges clearly, cocky and funny but with unexpected depths. I thought the chemistry between Saba and Jack was pretty damn hot, and I almost never say that about YA couples.

Apart from the sparse world building, the other thing that didn't really grip me about this book was the several instances of logic fail. Seriously, Saba, you need to learn to take a pulse before you assume someone is dead. And I hated the random death at the end. What was the point? Not to mention how The Hawks turned up at the exact moment they were needed; that was a little too Hollywood for me.

But I did like how Young hints at the possibility of magic, without ever confirming it outright. From Saba's father's star gazing to the heartstone to the strangely long-lived King, there are subtle signs of the paranormal, but no obvious presence.

I like how this story could function as a stand-alone, even as it leaves many unanswered questions that form the foundation for the second book in the trilogy. All in all, I think this was a great debut novel - not too profound, but a kick-ass adventure that does its job well, and with maximum entertainment. Moira Young has an interesting voice, and I'd be very interested in seeing where she heads from here.

Disclosure: This is a review of an ARC galley. Thank you, Michelle, for sending this book across oceans and continents and making it possible for me to read it without waiting forever for the release date!
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Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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message 1: by Flannery (last edited Apr 29, 2011 10:59PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Flannery (view spoiler)

Vinaya (view spoiler)

message 3: by Flannery (last edited Jun 07, 2011 01:05AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Flannery (view spoiler)

message 4: by Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker (last edited Apr 29, 2011 11:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Great review Vinaya.

You wrote..

Which is one of the biggest reasons why I never really felt connected to the book. I wanted heat and fire and passion - what I got was a terse factual recitation of the surroundings.

After I read that, I was like, you are exactly right. So you had me thinking back on the book & reevaluating it. I still would have probably given it 5 stars because of the characters. I loved the risks the author took by not going the mainstream YA romance route AND not having the main character be all cotton candy sweet & the fact that her personality is flawed.

And you are welcome!

message 5: by Nomes (new) - added it

Nomes pleasant spoilers ladies! ;)

awesome review

"I read too many reviews and they all loved the book so much, I think I was expecting it to be as spectacular as the Second Coming of Christ."

ahh ~ isn't that always the way! sometimes I want people to keep their rave/hype reviews far far away before i psyche myself up way too much.

i also feel the same about Big Hype books. i don't know if Big Hype aids a books in sales (most likely) but often I am far more critical when reading them and far less likely to be pleasantly surprised...

Caitlin (view spoiler)

Flannery (view spoiler)

Caitlin @Flannery OMG I PICTURED EVERYONE RUNNING AWAY FROM...OMG HAHAH. I literally laughed out loud just now. My dog is staring at me...

message 9: by Lyndsey (new) - added it

Lyndsey Dammit, Vinaya and Flann!! Tell your spoilers to stop staring at me. I'm not clicking them!! I don't want to know!!!! But I do. Arg.

message 10: by Chichipio (new)

Chichipio Ha! I didn't even pause before I started clicking the spoilers one after another. This GR tool is completely wasted on me.

And about them, (view spoiler)

Vinaya Betcha Lyn totally clicked on those spoiler buttons too! I haven't seen Club Dread, is it any good?

message 12: by Chichipio (new)

Chichipio No, it's terrible! That's why I remember it. It's one of those horror-comedies that were pretty popular a few years back.

Bunch of people on an island. A killer. The typical "let's split up to make it easier!" plot. Lots of bad jokes.

message 13: by Maru (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maru I just finished this book and agree with much of what you said, at times it was really hard to like Saba, then other times I loved her... Anyway, I did pick up on those logic-fail moments, the second Saba went up to the king and said 'he's dead' without making sure I just knew he was going to be alive in the end... *sigh*. But did that guy have 7 lives, or what? Maybe the human sacrifices were actually working to his advantage (?) haha.

message 14: by Kat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kat  Snark Brilliant review, V! I just finished and I totally agree about the connection with the book, and the fail-logic. And yes, the King being alive is on her. I'm surprised she didn't see Jack lying on the ground sleeping and assume he died!

I also loved the hints of magic, that never came out and said it was magic.

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