Friday, October 14, 2011

Verdict, No. 14

(find the judgment here)
Blood Red Road
by Moira Young
"If you know how to read the stars, you can read the story of people's lives."
This is quite possibly the best book I have ever read.

It sounded so cliche, you know? Girl goes to save a sibling, gets caught in a government upheaval, meets a handsome stranger, makes tough-as-nail friends. It sounded like everything I've read before. I was sure it would suck. I mean, even after I bought it and it came in the mail, I didn't touch it for another day. And I just thought I'd read a couple chapters before bed, maybe like it a little. But it amazed me. Literally and in every sense. I talk about needing to be "wow"ed? This is it, folks: it's the best book I've read in a long, long time.

And I know this blog hasn't exactly...set me up as a critic of great literature. If I'm not touting Anna Godbersen, I'm suddenly in love with Delirium. But all those books--those frilly, melodramatic obsessions--they're guilty pleasures. They're great and I still stand by the writing, but...they're not everything I read, and I know they aren't the best. But maybe I've already lost some of my credibility because of it. Maybe you all roll your eyes at my choices; maybe you snort at my praise for certain books; maybe you doubt my ability to really know good literature. And maybe you do all that with good reason. But I have to ask, if you're going to listen to me on just one thing, hear me now: read Blood Red Road.

I might absolutely adore the Luxe series and I might have been blinded by Delirium, but Blood Red Road wasn't just a silly read I giggled over; this was a book that made me excited.

Remember reading Hunger Games for the first time? I came across it before it was a big deal (at least before I knew it was a big deal) and I was obsessed with it. Completely absorbed it in just a few hours and then I jumped up and down and told everyone to read it too. And people are saying this is as good as that. But it's not: it's better. It's crazy, and it's crazy-good.

Instead of some whiny, insipid girl you wish would just up and off herself already, thus sparing us the self-loathing (Katniss), here we have Saba. She's just a straight-up BA who don't take no BS from nobody. She's tough as nails, often...unapproachable, and willing to pretty much cut down anyone who gets in her way. Including, from time to time, her little sister. Is she perfect? Hardly. Is she beautiful? Not exactly. Is she idealistic and hoping to change the world? Actually, she's mostly selfish and very angry. But, even for all that, she's someone you can't help but root for.

I mean, for one, she doesn't become the face of a revolution just because she was clever enough to hide in some trees and sic bees on people; she doesn't spend her time manipulating the perfect boys around her who are inexplicably in love with her even though they're complete opposites; she doesn't mope and cry and consider suicide again and again. Saba is freakin' amazing, and her story is even more so. And I say it like she's real because Moira Young is great at characterizing. But, then again, Young, I quickly realized, is pretty amazing at everything: dialogue, emotions, narration, and just setting a really good scene.

There's nothing really unbelievable or awkward (...except perhaps 30-foot worms with claws. But, trust me, you buy into those pretty quick). And at least there aren't weird surgical beauty regimes or most of those sci-fi aspects often littered in dystopian fiction. But that's because this isn't dystopian. There's no dictator, no pretense of perfection. There's just the desert and the rusted remains of what they call the "wrecker" times. It's an ugly, lawless place, but Saba doesn't know anything else; she just wants to survive. It's her supporting cast that kind of pull her out of her self-absorbation. And they do it with all sorts of personalities. And, sure, people die. Lots die. There's killing all over the place. I mean, they're up against a drug lord. You have all sorts of people fighting to live and taking out anybody to do it.

But, listen. It might sound crazy--it might be crazy--but...I mean, from the first page, I was breathless. It sucked me in, zero seconds flat. It was like magic: I curled up under my covers, I flipped open to the prologue and...I was flabbergasted. In the best way imaginable. It was like my whole body went to sleep and I was just absorbed into the pages. Frankly, I'm in love. The language, the writing, the voice--whatever you call it--it bewitched me, body and soul.

And that handsome daredevil? I'd trade Peeta in for him any day of the week.

But I'm completely serious. If any of you really love reading, really love good STORIES, read this one now. I think I'm going to read it again. Right now. Cuz I just can't get enough of it. 

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