CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 35. . . .May 13, 2011.
Blood Red Road.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 2011.
531 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.
Review by Ann Ketcheson.
Reviewed from an Advance Reading Copy.
He ainít gonna help us. Heís too terrified.
Weíre on our own.
An I feel calm.
It seems crazy, seein how weíre both chained hand an foot an there ainít a soul to help us, but Iím calm. Because now I see what I gotta do. An what I ainít gotta do, which is waste time thinkin that anybodyís gonna help us. That somebodyís gonna come along an rescue us. I cainít count on nobody but me.
So what I gotta do now is watch. An learn. An think. An plan. Iím gonna make sure we stay alive, Emmi an me. Iíll do whatever it takes. Iíll do what the hellhag tells me.
But Iíll be watchin and waitin An when the time comes when itís the right moment to make a move, Iíll be ready. Iíll know what to do an Iíll git us outta here.
Then weíll go find Lugh. I promised him I would. An I ainít no quitter. No matter what.
Saba, 18, lives with her father, twin brother Lugh and little sister Emmi, miles from any neighbour. Theirs is a difficult struggle for existence in a post-apocalyptic future where even the necessities such as food and water are scarce. Things go from bad to worse one day when a group of black-robed men arrive. They kill Sabaís father and kidnap Lugh. Immediately, Saba decides she will not rest until she has found her twin and restored what remains of her family regardless of any obstacles fate may place in her way.
Moira Young presents readers with a classic fantasy novel based on the theme of the quest. Saba toughens and hardens as she pursues the trail of her brother, and the bookís plot revolves around her. Other characters are one-dimensional Ė black or white with little individuality. Typical of the fantasy genre, characters are either good or evil, helping or obstructing the protagonist.
The strength of Blood Red Road is in its plot which moves quickly from one exciting event to the next and will keep fantasy fans on the edge of their seats, rather like Ďreadingí an action film. Geography, weather, villains and even gigantic hellwurms all play a role as Saba seeks to find and free her twin. In the middle of the novel, Saba meets Jack who not only helps her toward her objective but becomes a love interest as well.
Young has chosen a writing style where spelling and grammar are not the norm, perhaps to suggest a future world totally different from our own, one where established norms have ceased to exist. The style will perhaps irritate some readers while others will see it as adding to the characters and the overall setting.
Blood Red Road is the first volume in a trilogy, and Young leaves questions unanswered and villains on the loose in order to tempt her readers to pursue the Saba story. The quest theme is a common one, as is the idea that the protagonist learns and grows while striving towards the goal. The majority of characters are not filled in but rather are stereotypical good guys and bad guys. However, the plot is fast-paced and full of action and thus will interest and excite young adult readers of both genders who enjoy fantasy.
Ann Ketcheson is a retired teacher-librarian and high school teacher of English and French who lives in Ottawa, ON.
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