Blood Red Road

Moira Young
Blood Red Road Cover

Blood Red Road


Saba's voice in Blood Red Road is distinctive and Young's decision to write the whole story in first person and in dialect just about works. A wasted land, where rusted out shells of a civilization that hints at ours dot the landscape, is sketched in quick, blunt strokes (I couldn't stop picturing something along the lines of The Book of Eli, a movie I sort of hated actually…) When Saba's twin brother Lugh is captured by four mysterious horsemen, she leaves the only corner of the world she's ever known, aiming to get him back. With her little sister Emmi dogging her steps and getting in her way, Saba faces numerous obstacles and discovers in herself a fierce warrior. What started as a rescue mission turns into an epic battle that will influence the course of many of the lives lived along the dusty red road.

I think my main problem with Blood Red Road is that I never got round to liking Saba. She kind of annoyed the crap out of me. I kept wishing that the story was about Emmi, the little sister whom Saba spends most of the book resenting. Emmi was plucky and inventive and resourceful and paid a whole lot more attention to the important things than Saba. The book also employs two out of five of the most overused plot devices in YA Fiction (as detailed here by Adam of Hitting on Girls in Bookstores) – 'I need to rescue my brother!' and the 'super mysterious male character'. As Adam points out, plot devices aren't inherently bad things – they just need to be used with skill and creativity if they enter the story. Young doesn't handle them particularly well in my opinion – and although I have no tolerance for lazy writing, I will cut her some slack because other elements of the story have potential (and not because this is her first book). Emmi, for instance, is a good character – and the gang of girl revolutionaries that Saba encounters are badass and awesome and I hope they feature hugely in the next Dustlands book (Rebel Heart, which I will undoubtedly read sooner or later…)

For the larger essay (of sorts) that is review is pulled from, visit: