Young Adult books are a pretty bleak world these days. Not because of lack of works or faltering quality in Young Adult genre. To the contrary, it’s a genre booming in numbers and material. It is bleak because much of it is centered on dystopian/post-apocalyptic worlds. And a new book ensconces itself in that lugubrious world but with sass, determination and fearlessness.
Blood Red Road by Moira Young is the world of teen Saba, her beloved twin brother Lugh and littlest sibling Emmi. The father of this Silverlake brood holds the family together through innumerable hardships. Yet when the greatest challenge appears on the horizon, a true deadly dust cloud, Saba, Lugh and Emmi find their father lost to raiders. And Lugh, the handsome sandy haired kind young man, is snatched from Saba and Emmi by a cadre of mysterious men known as Tonton.
The bond between Saba and Lugh is very close, almost strangely close as the story unfolds. But you realize this is a world not unlike the desolate Plains pioneers here in America, so the connection between brother and sister are intense. Maybe even preternatural.
What unfolds next is a true journey, both in mind and body. Saba goes through body parching traumas and mentally grueling violence. It hardens her. But not that one soft spot, it doesn’t callous over the vow she made to her beloved brother- I will find you.
And from there we are introduced to villains, heroes, gladiators, a band of female rebels and even a possibly reincarnated Sun King.
Written in a slang, occasionally phonetic style, Blood Red Road can be a little off-putting through the first dozen pages. But quickly the narration of Saba is distinct and grounding. Also, not sure if the occasional poetic moniker attached to Blood Red Road fits, but it does possess conciseness in some prose. Little spur movements that bridge scenes or connect fragmented thoughts.
Blood Red Road also transcends gender anchors with protagonist Saba sure to appeal to girls and boys. The pan-gender appeal to Saba and the story of Blood Red Road is owed to its nods to classic post-apocalyptic works in print and on the movie screen, most especially Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.
From blistering sandstorms to gladiatorial battles, gulleys clogged with bones and rousing adventures, Blood Red Road has all the elements of adventure fiction, wrapping a character that should appeal to teens and those a little older.
Blood Red Road by Moira Young was received free for review by Boston Book Bums