June 2nd 2011
In a lawless future land, where life is cheap and survival is hard, Saba has been brought up in isolated Silverlake. She never sees the dangers of the destructive society outside. When her twin brother is snatched by mysterious black-robed riders, she sets outon an epic quest to rescue him. The story's searing pace, its spare style, the excitement of its fabulously damaged world, its unforgettably vivid characters, its violent action and glorious lovestory make this a truly sensational YA debut novel.
I had seen a lot of brilliant things about this book, but for some reason I was still a bit worried that I wouldn't like it. I'm not a huge fan of Dystopia on the whole, and I thought that the dialect would annoy me, but I literally couldn't put this book down. I was hooked for the whole thing and I am just immensely glad that I have Rebel Heart lying around so that I can read it straight away.
I think a lot of the reason why I got on with it so well is that it didn't feel like a dystopian. It wasn't all high-tech and fancy Caste systems and overbearing evil governments. It felt a lot more like reading a Western, or an adventure story, because at it's heart, I guess that's what it is. The book isn't all about how dystoian it is, if you know what I mean. In fact, we're not really given much explanation as to how the world came to be that way, because Saba wouldn't have known. She hasn't been educated about anything, really, and from what we see of her world, not really that many people have been, and I guess that knowing things really isn't anywhere near as important as knowing how to survive, which, in Saba's world, seems to be hard enough.
I actually really liked Saba, as well. I know that she got on some people's nerves a bit, but I felt that the book being written in dialect really solidified her character. I really admired her strength and her determination, and I really loved seeing her relationship with her little sister grow as a result of Lugh being kidnapped. And yes, she could be coarse and ungrateful, but this is a girl who has grown up basically isolated from other people bar her family. She doesn't really know how to socialise and interact, especially while under the immense pressure of trying to find her twin brother - the only person she's ever been truly close with her whole life. Of course she's going to be unlikeable at times! But then, I also just really love characters who aren't the kind of wishy-washy type that are there mostly so that the reader can imagine themselves as being the MC. I like characters with a real sense of personality, and Saba had that in shedloads.
I also really liked the fact that the story didn't begin with a Mysterious Boy, and that the romance was only introduced a lot later in the book. You don't even know that there is a love interest until, like, 200 pages in, and that didn't even bother me at all. I was just really glad that the main plot was all about Saba going to save her brother so that they could all live together again. I did like Jack, though, after a while. It did take me a bit to warm up to him, though. I don't like charming people, you see. First rule of YA is that if a person really charming, they're usually up to no good. Okay, so maybe it's not the *first* rule of YA, but if go and find every charming person in a book, 8/10 times they're probably the bad guy.
And I know I've said a bot about this already, but I just really loved the kind of Wasteland-ish setting. You really got a sense of the world, and the people struggle to live and survive in it. I especially loved the whole cagefighting thing - or, well, I thought it was interesting, anyway. And the stuff about the King, and all the drugs! It was just a really interesting, well thought out, fresh take on Dystopia in YA that I haven't seen yet. I think that this is definitely one of the best books to have come out of the Dystopia trend (though to be fair, I haven't really read that many.)
Blood Red Road was just a book that really took me by surprise, and I absolutely loved it. I really need to read Rebel Heart soon (even though the book didn't even end on a cliffhanger! I KNOW. How could I possibly want to read the next book in series that didn't end with me wanting to tear my hair out?! *sarcasm*)