Saturday, April 28, 2012

Can’t Get Enough Dystopia?

If you or your teen is hungering for more novels set in the future, here’s one for all those appetites awakened by Suzanne Collins’ bestselling book and blockbuster movie,  The Hunger Games.

BLOOD RED ROAD, by Moira Young, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011

Women and girls of the future will definitely be strong willed warriors. Get ready!

18 year old Saba and her twin brother Lugh live in Silverlake, arid wasteland visited far too often by dust storms. One of those dust storms deposits a sinister band of villains that kidnaps Lugh and sets Saba and her younger sister, 9 year old Emmi, off on a quest that will keep readers postponing whatever it was they planned to do.  

The outside world is ugly, lawless, and filled with unscrupulous and greedy me-first characters. The good news is that there are well-intentioned courageous people, too. Saba, who has always had Lugh to guide her, is relentless in her drive to rescue her twin, but along the way she must learn how to trust others and work as part of a team.

Isolated from “real world” most of her life, Saba’s manners (what manners?) need work and it isn’t always easy to follow the dialogue which is written without quotation marks. Who cares about speech credits anyhow when Saba and her companions are busy aiming lighted torches at eyeholes and avoiding the claws of hellwurms? We’ll figure out who said what later. The 459 pages fly by, thanks to the division into short, spare blocks of text. It’s as if the divisions are there to help the reader remember to breathe.

Nancy Farmer, a favorite writer of mine, (A Girl Named Disaster, The House of the Scorpion, and many others) is quoted on the cover, “The pace never lets up. No situation is so bad that it can’t get worse in the next couple of pages.” See if you don’t agree with us.

Saba and Emmi grow from self-centeredness to solid responsibility that is both gritty and bitter-sweet. Other developing characters help move this story forward and show potential to set off on new adventures, perhaps with Saba, perhaps not.

Billed as “Dustlands, Book One,” this debut novel is evidently the first of several to come. I won’t be the only reader eager to find out, “what happens next?”

Hillview School Library