Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Review – Dustlands Book One - Blood Red Road by Moira Young

  • Blood Red Road
  • (Dustlands Book One)
  • Moira Young
  • Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Scheduled Release Date: June 7, 2011
  • Trade Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781442431386
  • (Review copy: ARC uncorrected proof direct from publisher.)
  • 498 pages
  • Tags: Young Adult (YA); Dystopian Fiction, Action-Adventure, Quest Fiction


Blood Red Road, a Young Adult dystopian title scheduled for release June 7th, 2011, is a fast paced action-adventure filled with dark, post-apocalyptic settings and truly likable characters on a quest. Written in the first person perspective with the voice of an illiterate, but not unintelligent, main character the narrative is presented entirely in the dialect of the uneducated. While it may take some readers a while to get beyond the trimmed-down minimalistic language the quaintness of the dialogue holds a certain sui generis charm and is what really made this book an exceptional read for me. It was unusual enough to catch and hold my interest from the start and once it had my attention I was hooked. In some ways this novel reminded me a little of Cormac McCarthy’s works Outer Dark and Suttree which contain their own flavor of dialect and Blood Red Road will inevitably be compared to The Road for its murky settings, ruined landscapes, and quest motifs. Another remarkable thing about this book is that while it is admittedly aimed at the 14+ crowd of young adults there is no doubt that it will appeal to almost every age group. Take it from someone who’s been in almost every age group. It’s a catchy, well-written story and I still find it hard to believe it’s a debut novel. The author’s narrative voice, lurking beneath the dialect, is a surprisingly mature one. Add the fact that it can be read almost overnight (it really is that fast-paced and readable) and you’ll find that Moira Young has created a decidedly fresh and enjoyable novel that will not disappoint.

Somewhat predictable (the deaths of two main characters, a heated, young romance, and somewhat clichéd characters) Blood Red Road never-the-less kept me entertained throughout with its many unique and uncommon elements. The crow that thinks and acts as if it is human is a wonderful, inventive character that tends to steal the show whenever in scene. Jack, the mysterious thief, embraces untold secrets which we hope to see revealed in the later books of the series. The dark and foreboding ninja-like Tontons have yet to show their dark side and there is a mystifying familiarity between Saba, the main character, and the Tonton leader DeMalo. There are some really nasty and evil antagonists as well, especially The King and Miz Pinch. Far be it for me to reveal any spoilers here but there’s a lot of potential in this series and I for one can’t wait to read and review the future exploits of this band of survivors.

Blood Red Road is the first book in the planned Dustlands trilogy but even so Moira Young does a great job of making the book stand alone without resorting to one of those aggravating cliff-hanger endings that have become so prominent in serial novels. I truly enjoyed this read and finished the book in only a few nights. As a result I will definitely make note to purchase the remaining books in the series when they’re released.

At its heart, Blood Red Road is an old story of new love, loss, and friendship in a world where survival seems next to impossible. And perhaps that’s why it’s so interesting to me. I am, after all, a huge fan of post-apocalyptic narratives and this one mixes the very best elements of familiar stories like City of Ember, Mad Max, Desolation Road, and 70’s spaghetti westerns and turns it upside down. I should also mention that the film rights were optioned by Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down, Kingdom of Heaven, etc.) It’ll be interesting to see what Scott makes of it and, of course, I’ll also make a mental note to look for the movie in the coming years.

Blood Red Road is a fast paced, intelligent, and fun read.

4 ½ out of 5 stars

  • The Alternative
  • Southeast Wisconsin

Additional reading:

The Story

Excerpt of Blood Red Road

Short GalleyCat Article

Review of Blood Red Road at Dark Fairie

Purchase at

Goodreads Review

Snarky Mama Blog Review

The Author

About Moira Young

Official Publishers Page for Moira Young

Author Interview (Video)


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