I’m not going to lie; when I got this ARC I pretty much jumped up and down, screeching with joy. I love, love, loved Blood Red Road. It was one of my favorite books of 2011. Saba is one of my all time favorite YA main characters. This book comes out next week too, so you don’t have long to wait.
This first book took me a little while to get into because of its Western slang and dialogue. I was an English major, and of course I was dying to take a red pen to pretty much all of the words that came out of Saba’s mouth and this made my enjoyment a little bit harder. However, the book became so amazing that eventually my red pen lay forgotten somewhere. And I knew going into this sequel that this might happen again. This time however, the language didn’t really bother me that much at all, even in the beginning. I guess I had become accustomed to it. However, the characters bothered me in the beginning…
The book starts not too long after the first one finished. Saba, Lugh, Emmi, and Tommo are making their way out west (on very little water). Jack had long gone to go find Molly and tell her that Ike, the man she loves, and Jack’s best friend, is dead. And they have a plan to eventually all meet up again out west. What’s my problem with the characters in the beginning? Well, Lugh is a jerk face. He is not the brother Saba kept remembering and striving to save in book 1. He’s bossy, stubborn, and he only has negative things to say about Jack. He and Saba are always arguing about who is in charge and he frankly just never sounds happy, grateful, or loving at all… He just keeps hurting Saba with his jerky attitude.
And then there’s Saba…In the beginning she was a lot like Katniss in Mockingjay, just plain destroyed and rather helpless. The more time she spends away from Jack, and trekking across baron, thirsty land, the more time she has to think about all that she has done this past year –all the people she has killed. And while Saba is not at her best, and I kept wanting to slap her in the face, Moira Young wrote some of the most beautiful lines in the passages about Saba’s shadows. She is shadowed by all the young people she killed in the cages. And as her crew travels further, Saba looses more and more of her mind to grief.
And she seriously looses her mind. She hallucinates, faints, sleepwalks, talks to ghosts who aren’t there, terrifies her travel companions, and just plan looses all of the strength she had in the first book.
Thankfully, this is only in the beginning. She eventually gets the help she needs from Auriel, a new friend, who’s protecting a lot of scared, damaged people. Auirel has a sweating lodge, where she works to get rid of all of Saba’s demons. I was never quite sure what was in Saba’s mind and what was actually happening. And, in the lodge she dreams about all her shadows and confronts them head-on. Too bad, her session with Auriel is interrupted. Saba is pulled out of everything too soon when Maev, leader of the Free Hawks comes to camp with some devastating news.
With the bad news comes secret messages, bar fights, explosives, rescues, and even a barn dance! There’s new friends, new enemies, and a long-lasting enemy from book 1. Saba has a lot to deal with again in a limited amount of time. There’s an insane award for anyone who catches her and brings her to the Tonton. She does not have time for dealing with her shadows, and before long she and her gang are smack in the middle of what appears to be a revolution. The only thing though is that with everything seeming to go the worst possible of wrong ways, does Saba really know what side she is on? The other side begins to look a lot more appealing all of a sudden, and Saba has a lot of stuff to figure out in this book.
This book is filled with all the tough stuff from book 1: hostile village takeovers, kidnappings, killings, battles, rape, mourning, and slavery. The action made it impossible to put down. There’s plot twists, epic betrayals, more loved ones being captured and dying, and so much fighting! However, what book 2 has that the first one didn’t, are all the roads leading to an eventual revolt!
I wish Jack was in this book more. In a way, I think it’s good he was barely there because Saba needed to come to a lot of things on her own. But still, I missed him. This bleak, filled with doom, story didn’t leave a ton of space for romance or happiness. All the same, there were bits and pieces of love thrown about. A lot of this book was about Saba, Lugh, and Emmi learning to not just survive (they’ve already learned this one), but how best to live with what they are given. This book had me crying, laughing, and even screaming at Saba at one point.
There’s one scene that I’m pretty sure will have all fans screaming at Saba. Seriously, I was so mad. However, I’m glad I kind of got to see what both sides of this cruel world/war are fighting for. And learning more about the Tonton was fascinating! Also, I’m so glad that the old Saba returned and I wasn’s stuck with Post Traumatic Stress Saba for the whole thing. Emmi became so much more loveable! I loved all the scenes with Maev and Auriel. The new characters were fantastic! Also, Molly is the best. Seriously, I love her to pieces. And the beginning, which was in Jack’s point of view, was so good and so different from Saba’s point of view.
The ending was insane! I need book 3 right now. Be prepared for a good ending, with a cliffhanger. This book was not as good as the first one if only because I got so mad at points (particularly in the beginning and toward the end). But, it still holds so much Western magic. Really, Young knows how to write amazing characters, fantastic dialogue, believable romantic relationships, and just one wonderful story! I give it a 9/10.