Saba lives with her father, her twin brother Lugh and younger sister Emmi in a barren wasteland known as Silverlake. Scavenging things from the long-gone “Wrecker” society allows them to eke out a meager existence, but Saba is content enough as long as she has her twin brother Lugh at her side. Then one day Lugh is suddenly kidnapped by four men on horseback, and everything changes for Saba. She sets out to get him back regardless of the cost.
One thing to be aware of going into this book is that it’s written from Saba’s perspective and to say that she doesn’t exactly speak The King’s English is putting it mildly. I initially struggled a little with the heavy dialect and bad grammar. It made me picture Saba as Jennifer Lawrence, who did a similar hack job on the English language in Winter’s Bone while speaking in an Appalachian dialect (and is, of course, going to be Katniss in the upcoming Hunger Games movie and by the way Saba would TOTALLY kick Katniss’s ass). I did get used to it after a while and it actually ended up being one of the things I really liked about Blood Red Road. I felt like it gave the book a unique feel.
Saba is a really, really prickly heroine. She’s kind of an acquired taste, to be honest, because she’s not the nicest person around and can actually be kind of an ass. She has a lot of flaws, which make her very human but also give her some not-so-admirable qualities. Her single-minded devotion to Lugh at the expense of all others is something of a head scratcher at the beginning but it does give her a chance to grow as a person, particularly in her relationship with Emmi. Her feelings toward Emmi are complex to say the least and it’s interesting to watch the two of them interact and have to rely on one another as the book goes on. And also? Saba is a total and complete badass. She’s smart. She’s a survivo, which I felt made her a really likeable/fascinating character. For a lot of reasons I felt that Saba herself set Blood Red Road apart from other YA dystopians.
Blood Red Road also has some truly disgusting adversaries, both human and otherwise. I don’t want to give too many details and ruin the surprises, but some of them are really stomach-turningly evil. Others are really, really gross and remind me of something from a movie from the early 90s which I’ve seen about a bajillion times. Anyone who has seen the movie of which I speak and read this book will know exactly what I’m talking about.
I also really liked Saba’s relationship with Jack. Definitely no insta-love here, although there is insta-attraction. I was glad that Saba & Jack aren’t described as beautiful people. In the world that they live in it makes far more sense that they would be scarred and hard-looking than breathtakingly beautiful, as everyone in YA books seems to be. Truthfully we never get a really thorough description of Saba, though she compares herself unfavorably to her brother Lugh. Jack is described as being physically flawed but having something about him. YAAAY for not being stunning, Saba and Jack. Of course, now that the cover for Rebel Heart has been released I’m going to go ahead and say that Jack isn’t quite the average guy I was picturing him as being:
Hello! But still, nobody is having their breath sucked from the their lungs at the sight of one another, there’s no constant mention of how gorgeous everyone is, etc. so it’s ok by me.
I really, really liked Blood Red Road and I will be anxiously awaiting the sequel in October.
4.5/5 stars – I Like It Very Much…and a Half!