I have found a new favorite series, Dust Lands by Moira Young. I spied this on the shelf of some bookstore last month and while perusing the YA (Young Adult) section at the Library I happened to stumble upon it again. Luckily I did, because this is one incredible series!
Both of the books have it plastered everywhere that it is better than The Hunger Games. Sorry Moira Young, but your books are too unique to be a comparison. I suppose some would relate it to The Hunger Games only because Saba is a female, she is a natural survivalist and fighter and she has a little sister. Outside of those things, the world is too different and the people are too different to be of any comparison. I love The Hunger Games series, but other than those few areas of similarity, Dust Lands is really nothing like it. It is on a whole other level. In fact, I would actually compare Blood Red Road to The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It has the same dystopian worldview where what was is never quite explained and yet accepted by the reader, the unique language style of Saba and how it is written as it would be spoken (intermixed with various other dialects) and most importantly the journey. Though, unlike The Road, the story continues. Moira Young gives you a few footsteps into the Dust Lands through the eyes of a naive Saba and then awakens you with her clarity in Rebel Heart.
So let me explain what the Dust Lands Series is and give the synopsis of each book.
The Dust Lands series is written by Moira Young and exists in the ruins of our once-upon-a-time civilization. We (as in humanity now) are called The Wreckers for the destruction we placed on the earth. In the Dust Lands there are no electronics, no vehicles or flying airplanes, etc. It is a dystopian apocalyptic world where sandstorms ravage the land and water is scarce. Most of the population is under the control of Chaal, an addictive substance that causes excitability, rage and insanity. It is farmed, sold and distributed by a self proclaimed King and his soldiers, the Tonton. In all of this there is one girl who has the ability to change everything, Saba.
Blood Red Road –
Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.
Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she’s a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.
Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, violent action, and an epic love story. Moira Young is one of the most promising and startling new voices in teen fiction.
Rebel Heart –
It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.
What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads of danger and destiny, betrayal and passion.
I absolutely love how Moira Young is very subtle about whatever happened that created the world and how she introduces it in various points doesn’t take you away from the surroundings. It doesn’t distract you into wondering too much about what happened before, you feel you already know even though it isn’t written because it is the road you are already existing in.. if that makes sense. In the moments when Saba is stunned into a memory her Father told her about The Wreckers, you feel as though her eyes are turning and looking right at you. She seems almost real, on another plane perhaps, with dark shadowed eyes looking in.
The story is in Saba’s point of view and the main characters are most often Saba, her absent brother Lugh and Jack. However, her younger sister Emmi begins playing an actual part in the story as she begins to find a place in Saba’s heart. I like how Moira Young has evolved her spirit as she ‘grows up’ in the world outside and is placed in dangerous situations that force her towards evolving from the innocent 9 year old girl into something wiser. Each character changes bit by bit as the story unfolds, just as they are faced with challenges and choices that they had never known before. This always leaves you questioning what will happen next or whether or not someone is truthful. Although you assume you may know what to expect, the story turns and you are faced with the unknown.
I wholeheartedly recommend reading this series. It has all the elements of what could be a great Literary Fiction, but made for Young Adults. It does contain violence, but not so descriptive as to make it unreadable by teens. Definitely a book that is multi-generational, one that both parents and teens would love. You can read more about the books and actually see the Book Video for Blood Red Road, as well as an excerpt from Rebel Heart, on Moira Young’s Official Publishers Page. You can pick up the first of the series, Blood Red Road (Dustlands, Book 1) for $9.79 on Amazon.
And just as an added note, they’re making Blood Red Road into a MOVIE! That’s incredible.
I picked this book up at the library.