Saturday, March 10, 2012

Two Points to Ponder - Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Our March book for book club was Blood Red Road by Moira Young, but instead of having opposing opinions, Rebecca and I both disliked the book. So, here are two reviews focusing on different aspects of Blood Red Road.

Sci-Fi Splicing Failure: Rebecca's Review

Just the Facts:

Overall Rating:  2 stars

Addiction Level:  I read it every waking moment.

Believe-ability:  My childhood imaginary world was more real.

Dystopia Factor:  The world has been turned upside down and all hope is lost!


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to combine all your favorite movies into one?  Yeah…me neither.  Young unsuccessfully combines Mad Max, Gladiator, and Tremors to create a far-fetched splicing nightmare.  The problem begins when she jumps from Mad Max to Gladiator.  I was just beginning to adjust to a hell-bent 18 year old (Saba) and her 9 year old sister (Emmi) and their quest to rescue their kidnapped brother when both girls are duped, drugged, and enslaved. 

The dialect, made-up language, and lack of quotation marks make this a challenging read.  Add that to an unbelievable protagonist and wa-la = disaster!  I do not like Saba, nor do I buy her character.  For someone so sheltered and isolated, I find it hard to believe that she is a survivor who can fight her way out of a corner, be a horse whisperer, and charm dashingly handsome men.  At least Katniss’ survival in The Hunger Games is believable, because she uses those same skills at home.

Saba’s lack of growth frustrates me and turns my attention to the minor, more relatable characters.  I feel more invested in them than I do the protagonist.  What the heck?!?!?!?  Additionally why do so many characters like Saba?

The only thing I like/can stand is the role Fate plays in the story.  Young does not beat the reader over the head with it; she seasons the story nicely with it.  Perhaps this strikes a cord with me, because I believe God ordains everything for our good.

In conclusion Blood Red Road epically fails for me, because too many overused ideas are crammed into one story.  Not enough cohesion exists to bring the story or characters close to my heart.  I expected more from this disappointing read.

Catch & Release: Esso's Review

Just the facts:

Overall: 2 Stars

Addiction Level: I read it when I had spare time.

Believe-ability: It was believable.

Dystopia Factor: The world is starting to disintegrate. (I guess…)


     Blood Red Road is about a teenage girl who finds herself parentless and searching for her kidnapped twin brother, all the while having to tote her kid sister along with her. Mindful of, although not necessarily adhering to the conventions of the dystopia genre, Young sets free her characters in a post apocalyptic world full of danger.

     I love to fish. Put a pole in my hand and I’m happy. I’ll fish from dawn to dusk, nonstop, even if the fish aren’t biting. I’ve been this way ever since I was a child and my parents would take my brother and me for day trips around the state. However, I’ve never been one to clean and gut my fish. Growing up, the rule always was that if you caught a fish you had to be the one to clean and gut it. No exceptions. Well….I do not eat fish or any creature that originates from some body of water. No thank you! I quickly learned that if I wanted to be able to fish I would have to take up catch and release (and later acquire a loving, fish-eating husband who would do it for me).

     I feel that this is exactly what Young has decided to do with her debut novel Blood Red Road. Catch and release. Engage the reader and then disappoint the reader.  As I said earlier, it is obvious that Young knows the general conventions of writing a dystopia. A fear inducing ruler, some means to control the population, a post-apocalyptic landscape, futuristic dangers that are not found in the present, a protagonist with the ability to kick ass, etc. Throw in a possible love triangle for good measure. Catch. Nevertheless, having all of the boxes checked doesn’t make a great dystopia in and of itself. You have to elaborate on these areas and make them feel believable. Engage your reader! There was no depth to the story. Release. Throughout the entire book, Saba kept facing situations which could have been really engrossing if it weren’t for the feeling of a teenager saying to her dad, “First I did this, then I went there, blah, blah, blah,” no details, no emotion. She spends weeks on end forced to fight for her life, but you never get the desperate, heavy feeling that you should in that situation. Release. Saba and her friends have to face a seemingly unstoppable and endless attack from man eating creatures, but it’s over before you can even believe they’ve gone through their stores of ammo. Release, and I haven’t even gotten into the characters yet.

     I’m finding it hard to believe that Young plans to weave a series out of Blood Red Road. Where will she go from here? This may be a little *spoiler*, but it seems like all of the ends are pretty tied up. Not much left to go on; unless she plans to make her other books primarily a love story. So, here’s what I would like to ask and hope for - even if it means I have to finish the series.

  • Please give DeMalo the attention he deserves. There were only 3 real interactions between him and Saba. He’s the most intriguing character in the whole book!!!
  • Please create something tangible and real between Jack and Saba. She can’t just fall for a guy she knows nothing about!
  • Please give us a story full of depth and emotion. Catch your readers; snare them, whatever it takes!
     I trust that Young gives up on the idea of catch and release and really cleans and guts her next book. After all, an author can’t have someone else come in and do it for her.

(Looking for more about how powerful books should be? Check out this post from Divergent author Veronica Roth.)

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