Book Review: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Blood Red Road (Dust Lands, #1)Blood Red Road by Moira Young
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read for the Women of Genre Fiction Challenge and the Apocalypse Now! Challenge.

Method of the world’s destruction: ??? (not a clue)

I ended up with this book because I bought it (and its two sequels) for my stepdaughter, who gave it back to me when she moved. I thought, “What the hell? I’m doing an apocalyptic-fiction reading challenge, let’s give it a whirl.”

It’s a decent young adult post-apocalyptic adventure romance book. I suppose if I were a young adult, it might have a lot more appeal for me. The heroine, Saba, is really kind of kickass. I won’t say “badass.” She wants to be a badass and isn’t quite there. It frankly makes me want to mother her.

Some people have criticized or praised the writing style, which is first person personal, present tense, does not use quotation marks, and is heavily peppered with the terrible grammar of a backwoods hick, which the character is, so I suppose it displays that well. Personally I think that it’s a little overdone; like maybe Young read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, thought, “This is a hip and cool way to do post-apocalypse,” and tried her own hand at it. Nothing wrong with that, but McCarthy it is not.

Still, you forget about the style within a chapter or two, and just read, so that’s fine. You should always choose the style that tells your story the best, and present tense, first person personal is what’s needed here, so I applaud that choice. I’m not sure we needed the bad grammar, but okay, why not?

I would like this book a lot better if I didn’t despise the romantic subplot. Seriously, can we get the f*ck over the teenage romance where you know the boy is interested in the girl because he’s a leering, swaggering cock-of-the-walk who signals his interest by smoozing and being pushy, and then the girl rightfully tells him to take a hike, but he’s persistent and calls her mean and it’s love at first sight anyway, and so he just continues to stalk her and eventually she gives in because she’s sorry for being mean and look, it was meant to be? Seriously; bra-snapping is something boys do when they’re ten or twelve, not when they’re eighteen or nineteen, and we should teach them not to do it anyway. Jack does have some redeeming qualities – bravery and loyalty being chief among them – but the power dynamic is bad (Saba is depending on him to help her and her little sister survive) and I just don’t think guy is worth it.

Also, can we get over the this-is-a-young-adult-book-so-every-adult-in-it-is-either-abusive-crazy-incompetent-or-destined-to-die thing? The heavy-handed “drugs’re bad, mkay?” metaphor as an excuse for unbridled human evil for evil’s sake was a little distracting too.

On the other hand, the world was interesting, the action scenes were excellent, and I cared about the fate of the characters, so it’s not a total loss. It’s sort of Mad Max-esque; mostly a harsh, believable world complete with a Thunderdome, crazy people making use of grossly misinterpreted and even silly symbols of the old world, some weird stuff, the occasional new plant and animal, ruins, and something subtly supernatural that remains unexplained. I wish I knew more about what caused the apocalypse, but we don’t get told that in this book. Maybe Young explains in the sequels.

But I probably won’t know for a while, because while I cared to see if the characters survived this adventure, I’m not sure I’m going to go seeking out the other books. I think I have them lying around too, and I’ll probably get there eventually, but I’m not in a big rush.

A good book to read if you want to make a flight or a bus trip go quickly.

View all my reviews

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