Saturday, January 7, 2012

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

In a post-apocalyptic future that resembles the lawless wild west of yore, Saba vows to rescue her twin brother, Lugh, from the horsemen who stole him away from their dust bowl farm. She is admirably single-minded in her quest, undeterred by setbacks like being caged and forced to fight against other girls. Brave Saba escapes to tangle with skeletons and battle giant mutant worms. Even the sexiest of guys -- with moonlight silver eyes and a muscled, hairless chest -- will not sidetrack her resolve. So what if Saba's magic pendant gets warm whenever Jack is near... she will push him in the mud if he tries to kiss her!

"I ain't dreamed of fire before. An it warn't Lugh I was searchin fer so frantic. I dunno who it was." Saba's backwoods diction and terse style translate well to audiobook format (Recorded Books; 11.25 hours) performed by Heather Lind. I'm a sucker for dialect, especially in audio. The downside in this novel is that there is a lot of yelling, which Lind whisper-shouts. It was easier on the ears than actual shouting, and I don't know if there is a better alternative, but it was annoying anyway.

Blood Red Road is pure escapist adventure, the kind of book with witty quips exchanged during battle skirmishes and the ability to somehow see perfectly across long distances on cloudy nights. Young women racing on horseback, long past the age of combustion engines, urge one another to "get the lead out." It isn't a book for thinking; it's for when you feel like being swept away by fierce characters, a vivid setting and nonstop action. I liked that Saba isn't a romantic. When Jack tells her: "You make my brain hurt," she says: "Yer the most puffed-up big-headed swagger boots I ever met."

It's Canadian-born Moira Young's first novel. It's a lot of fun and it won the Costa Children's Book Award earlier this week. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, you gotta read Blood Red Road.

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