2011 winner of the Costa book awards, Moira Young’s Blood Red Road is a highly-rated dystopian novel – and I can see why.
Young’s debut book is filled with action, heart, and moments of comedy. I read this book a few years ago – as a teenager, the intended YA audience – and remember fully enjoying it. Now, as an adult, I have recently had the time to revisit the dustlands that main characters Saba, Emmi, Jack, and Lugh travel through. And you know what … I still love it. Probably more than I did before.
While the story is as gripping as I remembered it, I can now fully appreciate the author’s style. The twangy accents are consistent throughout, and the unique names for certain commonplace objects (such as the “long-looker,” which is a pair of binoculars) is a satisfying aspect which adds even more depth to the world Saba lives in. What stands out the most to me, however, is that there are no speech marks (I know!). I’ll admit it was slightly confusing to read at the start, but with its being written in first person, from protagonist Saba’s perspective, the dialogue soon became easy to differentiate from narration, thoughts, and description.
I tip my hat to Young, for opening my eyes as both a reader and writer. With a compelling storyline and memorable style that adds to the already strong characterisation, Blood Red Road is a novel you will not want to put down. I am looking forward to reading the sequel, Rebel Heart (2012), and have just ordered the third instalment to The Dustlands Trilogy, Raging Star (2014).
About the reviewer
Siobhian R. Hodges is a writer and author of the supernatural thriller, Killing a Dead Man (2019). She has a BA in Creative Writing and Film Studies, and an MA in Creative Writing. When she’s not writing, she enjoys long walks in the countryside and raiding the biscuit cupboard. Her favourite authors are Kevin Brooks and Patrick Ness.
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