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!

 

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Every Fangirl’s Fantasy

As I begin to scale these towers of books, I can’t help but point out a recent trend that I have unknowingly subscribed to. This category I speak of is one that I feel I may have passed over or not even noticed in years past. Yet somehow, this particular microcosm of fiction has wriggled its way into popular young adult literature (not to mention my bookshelves) and is swiftly spreading… almost like weeds.

Thanks to the success of other fantasy series such as Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer, fangirls (and boys) are coming out of hiding by riding on the coattails of their predecessors. Pouring out of parents’ cars to swarm midnight releases nationwide, teens arrive decked out in what I can only call “Pedestrian Comic-Con Chic.” This seems to be happening more and more. Now book launch parties have become more commonplace for the everyday “flavor-of-the-week” tweener pop craze rather than a spectacular event reserved only for the crème de la crème of juvenile literature. But I digress…

Strong female characters in post-apocolyptic dystopian fantasy fiction trilogies.

Gosh, that sure is a mouthful. And I thought Barnes & Noble was crazy for naming a whole section “Paranormal Teen Romance.”

Now, before I go further, I should probably mention that this topic may very well be a springboard into several of my first book reviews. Honestly, it’s because I have read quite a few already, so please bear with me as I trudge through this mini-genre of books over the next few blog entries. (I’ll try to break things up here and there so I don’t scare away too many potential readers.)

1. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
2. The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condi
3. The Mortal Instruments Trilogy by Cassandra Clare
4. The Dustlands Trilogy by Moira Young
5. The Forest of Hands and Teeth Trilogy by Carrie Ryan
6. The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

The six trilogies mentioned above contain books that I have either already read or ones that I own. I will also mention…

7. The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano

and a special mention to…

8. The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner

The Chemical Garden Trilogy is a series that I can absolutely see myself buying that will fit right alongside the others in this little collection I already have going on. While The Maze Runner Trilogy on the other hand, offers the same general world setting as the others, but with a male as the central character — though, not exactly a departure from the traditions of what seems to be going on in this genre, a different perspective can shed light on many new things. These last two trilogies I mentioned are ones I do not own, and for the purpose of this blog, I will refrain from purchasing for the time being.

So far, three of the six trilogies are complete, while the remaining three are missing their second and/or third companions. With that in mind, I will start reviewing the completed series first, allowing more time for the remaining series to round themselves out.

~

Will Suzanne Collins will become the next J.K. Rowling?
Is a trilogy ever too long, or not long enough?
Team Peeta or Team Gale?

Tune in next time for my review and insight into The Hunger Games Trilogy.