A Fever in my Blood

 

Boy, this took me long enough! I finally, finally, got around to reading Rebel Heart by Moira Young, book 2 in the Dustlands trilogy. I happened upon Blood Red Road (book 1) while I was in Canada one summer. Without having heard much about it before, I picked it up, because I couldn’t leave a bookstore empty-handed. Honestly, I didn’t begin reading it until a few months later, but once I did, I flew through the pages. Once I realized there were to be two more books following, I pre-ordered the titles as soon as they became available. That was a few years ago now, and since I loved BRR so much, I wanted to be sure Rebel Heart made it on my list of books to read this year.
Rebel Heart, Blood Red Road, Dustlands, Moira Young

 

The first thing you’ll notice about the Dustlands trilogy is the way it is written. That may sound sort of generic, but flip through the pages and you’ll see there are no quotation marks indicating speech. It is also written in the vernacular of the world. G’s are dropped from words ending with ‘-ing,’ instead of ‘for’ it’s ‘fer,’ rather than ‘afraid’ it’s ‘afeared,’ ‘can’t’ is ‘cain’t,’ etc. Honestly, it felt really odd for the first 40 pages or so, but soon you find yourself in the rhythm and you don’t even notice. Sometimes, the line spacing even makes the prose feel like verse… which may sound weird, but it works!

Moira Young does a marvelous job of supplying the reader with just enough detail. Sort of like a watercolor painting, her words suggest description while leaving us to fill in the specifics with our own imagination. It’s remarkable how liberating that feels… but I didn’t realize it until after I was through reading the book. It’s not like other writers that will ramble for pages about the bark of a tree.

Rebel Heart starts with a shift in perspective – we hear from another character’s point of view. Immediately I thought about Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, wondering if this book would follow the same pattern: book 1, one perspective – book 2, two perspectives – book 3, three perspectives. In this case, the shift serves as a prologue. The book picks up pretty much where the first left off. (I’m purposefully leaving out characters and plot points for spoilers — Yeah, I’m being nice this time. You’re welcome.) Again, it took me a little while to get into the stylized rhythm, but I adjusted. The character names were all familiar, but I had to remind myself who was who from the previous book.

Saba, the protagonist, is the same as she was – stubborn, fierce, and unrelenting. After the events of the first book, it’s rewarding to see her struggle and develop through this next installment. She’s not perfect. Often I feel as though these strong-female-protagonists-in-a-post-apocalyptic-dystopian-world-for-young-adults all start to blend together. Not so with Saba. Her inner conflict is so… I wanna say textured, but that sounds weird… It’s pebbly and rocky, if that makes sense. And a few times, her decisions made me go “what?!” — and THAT’S what makes her such an interesting read. Saba is easily my favorite protagonist in this genre so far.

Oh, and speaking of genre. Something I should mention: this is very much a Western. That may shock you readers, but I urge you to give it a try. There are a lot of John Ford and John Wayne influences… In fact, does anyone remember The Searchers (1956 film)? If you liked that, you’ll definitely like this series. Now that I think about it, I suppose book 1 sort of follows along that same kind of story too.

Hopefully it won’t be another 3 years before I read the final book, Raging Star!

 

No Awful Books – EVER!

A few months ago, I found a new website through Twitter called Blogging for Books. Immediately, I registered. The premise is simple: Choose a book, read the book, review the book. As someone who is desperately trying not to purchase any more books, I’m thankful for this little loophole of a website. That said, in my new job, I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to actually READ rather than LISTEN to books. Hopefully this doesn’t disqualify me from my review, but I happened to find the audiobook version and got through the book that way, since I was having a difficult time paging through it. So here we go: my review of Mother, Mother.

 mother, mother koren zailckas

Touted as “Mommie Dearest” and “Psycho,” I had hopes this book would be thrilling and emotionally charged, perhaps cultish. Unfortunately, by the time I finished, I was still waiting for a crazy murder scene. I will say that there was a lot of emotional manipulation, but the twist was a smidge predictable… but that’s just my own impression! There are lots of people that wouldn’t pick up on it! I still enjoyed this book and would recommend it — in fact, I have recommended it.

We’ve got a mother and father, both of whom are very concerned with her public appearance. The father is a closet recovering alcoholic. Their eldest daughter has run off and has pretty much been disowned. The middle daughter has been blamed for harming their younger autistic + epileptic brother. So as the story chugs along, we eventually discover that (kind of spoiler🙂 the eldest daughter had gotten pregnant out of wedlock. Middle daughter is in hanging out in a mental institution getting post cards/letters from eldest daughter. Little brother is being coddled and soothed by mom. (Oooh… maybe that’s where the Psycho-Norman-Bates reference comes from.) Every chapter alternated viewpoints between middle daughter and little brother. I’d say most of the story progression happened with the daughter’s chapters, while the son’s chapters provided vignettes illustrating the mother’s behavior… which is in many ways repeated in the daughter’s chapters. I’m not saying those chapters weren’t necessary, but the son didn’t really provide us with anything we couldn’t gather from the other viewpoint. Furthermore, he didn’t experience any character progression like the father and daughter did. But that’s being really picky… and I feel criticizing a character that has a disorder like that… He just felt a little one-note.

Sparing you any more spoilers, secrets are revealed, and most characters meet their appropriate ending. Reading through this again, I really don’t mean to be so critical. I did enjoy the book. I blame the blurbs and marketing for this book — I was expecting something more scary. So my expectations were a bit skewed… that’s all.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

I’ve Been Featured…

I’m totally geeking out right now.

I was interviewed by the lovely Nicole Brinkley (@nebrinkley) a little while ago and it was published online today! How awesome is it that I’m featured on YA Interrobang?? VERY! I’m so appreciative to have been a part of Nicole’s column and I’d love it if you all went over and showed some support.

ya interrobang yainterrobangFor those unfamiliar with YA Interrobang (@yainterrobang), it’s an online magazine all about the world of Young Adult literature. In other words: everything right up my alley. Though you may be skeptical since they only launched in August 2013, trust me, Nicole knows what she’s doing, and she had created an awesome ‘zine. There’s Author News, rants, event announcements, giveaways (who doesn’t love a good giveaway??) and so much more. The content is quality and there’s a lot of it. Ever since I Twitter-met Nicole at BEA earlier this year, I’ve been a fan.

So go read my interview, and go support another awesome blog.

Bloggers unite!