For eighteen-year-old Saba, her entire world has always been the dried up Silverlake, a place where sandstorms and drought influence everyday life. Although life is hard, Saba feels comforted by the fact that her twin brother Lugh is there for her. When some men ride up, shoot her father, and kidnap her beloved brother, Saba is determined to save him. As she navigates the chaotic world outside of Silverlake, Saba discovers that she’s a strong fighter and a quick thinker. With the help of the maddeningly handsome Jack and a group of girl rebels called the Free Hawks, Saba might just be able to save Lugh after all.
Moira Young’s tale of a girl living in a post-apocalyptic society is pretty epic. The first book in a planned trilogy tackles loss, love, the pains of growing up, and giant killer sand worms. This is an adventure story of the highest order, and it’s entertaining, engrossing, and worth every minute of its 450-odd pages.
Told in Saba’s phonetic, illiterate dialect, the writing takes some getting used to. Once the reader is able to adjust to Saba’s unique voice (there’s nothing to be afeared of here), they won’t be able to get enough of it. Saba’s voice lends authenticity to her tale, and Saba herself is remarkably well-drawn: she’s persnickety, and there’s a great deal of impressive character detail given to her and to her friends.
There’s a lot going on in Young’s novel–some people will argue that she crowds too much into it. There are so many subplots occurring that Young can’t address them all. As a result, some of them are dropped, but it’s this reviewer’s guess that they’ll be picked up in future installments. Despite being perhaps overly crowded with ideas and events, Young’s novel is extremely well-paced and completely captivating. This is an engrossing story that features a strong female protagonist in the same vein of Katniss Everdeen.
Recommended to fans of sci-fi post-apocalyptic fiction. Readers who are missing new installments of The Hunger Games might find a kindred book spirit here.
Blood Red Road by Moira Young. Doubleday: 2011. Electronic galley accepted for review.