CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 40. . . .June 13, 2014
In Raging Star, the third volume of the “Dust Lands” trilogy, the previous two titles being Blood Red Road and Rebel Heart, Saba continues to lead her small but tough band of rebels in a final effort to defeat DeMalo and prevent his taking over New Eden and moulding it according to his own tyrannical vision. But DeMalo has other plans and invites Saba to join forces with him – to marry him, in fact. Should Saba agree to his plan and sacrifice herself and her happiness so that her rebel friends can escape? Or is there another way to find the cracks in DeMalo’s world vision?
Saba is the same stubborn, tough young woman whom readers met in the earlier books, but she has also matured and changed. When there are doubts about her leadership, Saba takes them to heart and seeks ways to unseat DeMalo which do not simply depend on brute force. As well, someone within her group appears to be a traitor to the cause. Can Saba uncover him or her without endangering herself and the others? Readers see a character who has somewhat mellowed and who is more willing to consider the thoughts and emotions of others than the younger Saba of the first book. That said, Saba still has her strong beliefs; she just has done more thinking about how best to implement them.
Young’s trilogy is set in a post-apocalyptic world ironically named New Eden. It is a gritty, raw and harsh environment where simply existing from day to day is a major challenge. Young describes a hard world, one filled with hard decisions and, often, hard people. The action is fast and unrelenting from the beginning of the novel right to the final pages. Young never telescopes the ending of the book but keeps readers on edge throughout. Raging Star is the end of the trilogy, but it is neither entirely happy nor predictable. Saba’s world is too tough and does not lend itself to a simple, easy solution to the problems faced by society.
Because the novel is both an adventure story and a fantasy story with just a hint of romance added, it will have wide appeal to both male and female young adult readers. One of the major themes of the novel is the quest for a better world, a society where families and family values are encouraged and nurtured. DeMalo is a typical despot who rules with harshness and fear, thinking only of his vision of New Eden and content to use any means in order to achieve his goal. Saba, on the other hand, sees a world where community and families are paramount and where all are equal rather than being enslaved to anyone or anything else.
Young’s trilogy presents a tough and dangerous new world in action-packed novels with great appeal. She reminds readers, however, that it is the people who inhabit and colonize this world who are the most important piece of the equation. Even the harshest environment can be tamed by those who, like the heroine Saba, have a passionate commitment to their beliefs and a willingness to work in community.
Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and high school teacher of English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.