Merry Wanderer of the Night  + [YA]

Review: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Blood Red Road by Moira Young is one of those books that you just need to read to get it. I didn't know a lot about this book when I started it. I knew that the cover gives the impression of desolation, barrenness and heat. I knew that it was a somewhat post-apocalyptic novel, set sometime after the end of the known world. And, I knew that the main character was on a mission to find and save her twin brother, who she viewed as the light to her shadow.

And I'm glad. I think that knowing so little about this book before I started reading made the book more exciting, made the level of tension I felt while reading so much stronger. I want others to have that same experience, to be able to experience that same level of surprise and excitement as they read, learning about the new world with Saba, learning about Saba's strengths as she does.

The cover of Blood Red Road sets the perfect tone for the novel. Saba and her family live in a vast desert. The nearby lake is drying up, taking with it their only source of water. Their family is almost completely isolated and Saba and her siblings know very little of the world outside their home. As is often the case in the post-apocalyptic novels, when things change for Saba and her family, the change is drastic and there is no going back.

Saba starts out with a very basic, very simple understanding of the world. She knows what she knows, believes what her father tells her, and has a very narrow, very specific and fixed world view. She doesn't leave a lot of room for gray areas. But as her world begins to change, she is forced to analyze and examine the possibility of change. She begins to realize that there are other ways to view the world and that she is, perhaps, too hard on others, too hard on herself and too quick to cast things and people aside. Watching Saba grow into herself, watching her become this amazing and strong person was insane. From the beginning of the novel to the end, she changes completely. And yet, she also stays exactly the same. She does not lose the essential pieces that make her who she is, but they grow and mature to allow for a deeper understanding of people and the world. I want this girl to be on my side. I want to be her friend.

The secondary characters were also amazing. Each was fully formed and with many of them, we see them change, and they also help us measure the changes in Saba. Her perceptions and interactions with varying characters show us this, help us understand that integral role that character had on Saba's growth without ever needing to tell us about it. The growth doesn't need to be told, because it is plainly visible.

I also loved the writing in this book. It's just as sparse as the landscape of the story, but it's rich. The dialect writing might throw some readers off initially, and it does take a few pages to get used to, but by the end of the novel, Saba's voice is so strong that the words just pour off the pages. You don't need to stop and analyze or verify the specific words, because you just know. It's what Saba would say. It's what Saba does say, and it's plain as day.

I would say that this is one of the strongest debuts that I have read this year and it's a book that I highly recommend. The story is paced perfectly. And for me, the ending left nothing to be desired. It is obvious that there are plans for a sequel but this book doesn't leave you in the middle of a scene, chomping at the bit to see what happens next. You will want to know. You will need to know. But it's more because you just have to spend more time with these wonderful people that the need to know how the scene you just cut off will end. As far as the characters go — they characters are far from perfect, far from ideal but they grow and mature and are so very, very real that their flaws are just another sign of life. I feel like Saba and the rest of this cast are just waiting to be born, just waiting for the world to destroy itself so that they have the chance to redeem themselves.

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.