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Friday, 11 April 2014

Empty shelf/Mad Reviewer #20 "Blood Red Road" Moira Young

Reviews for this book regularly include things along the lines of "if you're a fan of The Hunger Games you'll love this", though as far as I can see there are only three similarities - a dystopian setting, a kick-ass lead, and an unwillingness to let its readers put it down.

This book is unlike anything I have ever read in the YA market. Set in America, post-war, the story is told first-person by Saba, a fierce eighteen year old, twin sister to Lugh and older sister to Emmi. They live in a place called Silverlake, a barren wasteland, with their father. One day, four men come to see them and end up killing the father and kidnapping Lugh - why, we don't yet know. However, with little thought for her own safety, Saba sets off to find him. Her sister Emmi ends up following and they get kidnapped, too, by a couple called the Pinches who exploit Saba by way of cage-fighting in a place called Hopetown. It is here that Saba meets a man called Jack and a group of women called the Free Hawks who engineer an escape for the enslaved cage fighters, while burning Hopetown to the ground.

While retaining the familiar elements of YA dystopia, the story feels new and fresh, not least because of the dialect in which Young writes. Young was a singer and actress before turning to writing - this is her first book - but you can see that she is in her element, weaving a story together with the prowess of a much more experienced writer. The characters are tough as rock but not lacking humour; the comraderie is genuine and moving; and the settings unfold in your mind like great vistas you know would be just perfect for the cinema screens. In fact, I'm wondering when the movie adaptation will be announced - there is sure to be one with this level of rich material.

I highly recommend.

Until next time!

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