Two Post-Apocalyptic YA Novels

Blood Red Road by Moira Young (Dustlands #1)
            At the risk of giving away too much at the beginning, I LOVED THIS BOOK!
There. I said it. You can leave for the library now. Go put your name on the holds list.
No? Want to know why I loved it?
Blood Red Road is an adventure story, a post-apocalyptic western. When Saba’s twin brother Lugh is kidnapped by a gang of  cloaked men who coincidentally kill their father as well, Saba is determined to get him back. Accompanied by her little sister Emmi (whom Saba still can’t forgive for being the cause of her mother’s death) they set out on the trail. Their world is dark, hard and barren, the legacy of the Wreckers (us) whose technological debris still dot the landscape.
On their journey, the get caught by a ruthless couple who makes Saba participate in the fights (think Roman coliseum). They meet a gang of female warriors called the Hawks and a charming scoundrel named Jack. In order to save her brother, Saba is going to have to figure out how to trust people, something that does not come easy to her.
What I loved about this book:
1. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else but a really great , exciting story. There is no deep meaning, though the characters are textured and complex, and the world building is meticulously developed and elegantly executed.
2. The writing. Not once did I stumble over a sentence or a thought. I read a lot of books and notice that great world building or exciting plot usually comes at the expense of careful writing. Young pulls off a western dialect perfectly- words misspelled, but not too much, a lilting rhythm to the speech and to Saba’s thoughts. The description is sparse but evocative, the characters well-drawn.
3. Young does not make the man subservient to the strong female protagonist. Jack (yes, the charming scoundrel) is equal to Saba and even teaches her some things. Too often in YA lit, we get the brooding, self-hating, angst-ridden idiot for the love interest ( I am thinking of Jace in City of Bones- let the angry rants begin). Jack is Saba’s equal. The last book I read with equally strong characters is Graceling by Kirstin Cashore (yes, Peeta and Gale are both strong characters, but still feel a little subservient to Katniss- just Peeta’s unabashed love alone feels a tad pupp dog-ish.) Jack is just as strong, just as good as a fighter. They are mutually attracted to each other. Thank you M,. Young, for not perpetrating the myth that all relationships must be passionate and doomed. They can be passionate and joyful and right. Of course, it takes the characters a while to figure that out…
4. The villain! Oh the villain! The king, hands down, has been my favourite villain for a very very long while. Modeling himself after Louis the IVth, he speaks of himself in the third person (which is creepy and psychotic). I won’t say anymore, but he is truly frightening.
I would recommend this book to anyone who liked the Hunger Games and other post-apocalyptic fiction. heck, I would recommend this book to anyone who needs a book that will sweep them up and away from the drudgery of their daily existence. Because it was fun fun fun!

Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (Blood of Eden, #1)
I have not picked up Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, but have many fans of it in my library. So when I saw there was a galley for the first installment in her new series, Blood of Eden, entitled Immortal Rules, I jumped at the chance. One, because I haven’t yet read a book on my iPad and it was about time I give it a whirl, and two, because my taxed brain can’t take anything deeper right now than a vampire story.
Not that there is anything wrong with vampire stories.
So. Immortal Rules. Allison Sekemoto is an unregistered, which means she does not belong to the vampire rulers of the city. Though life is hard and dangerous in the Fringe, she prefers it to being the property of a vampire, where she would have to give her blood up once a month. She hates the vampires, hates what they have done to the human race. When she discovers a cache of food outside the walls of the city and convinces her gang to come help her reap the spoils, they are attacked by the rabids, sort of a mixture of zombie/vampires. She is fatally injured. A mysterious vampire saves her and offers her this choice: he can turn her into a vampire, or he can kill her before she turns into a rabid.
As you can probably tell by the summary, Kagawa has a lot of setting up to do for the reader to be able to understand her post-apocalyptic, plague-ridden, vampire dystopia. The first part is basically exposition. Though I found the writing a little onerous at first, I do appreciate her world building.
Because it is Dark (capital D intended). Before Allison turns into a vampire, her life consists of pure survival. She spends her days looking for food and not being killed by the many, many predators, vampires, rabids, human or otherwise (there is a blood curdling scene with a rabid doe- Bambi it is not). And when she does choose (spoiler alert!) to become a vampire her life consists mainly of…well, survival. Vampires rule the city. Rabids roam the country. There are gangs of merciless humans. Everybody wants to kill her.
In short, it was kind of awesome. Throw in some unease about her new vampire stat, a cute boy met on the road who happens to have been indoctrinated and trained to hate and hunt vampires, some major ‘tude from Allison herself and pretty horrible villains ranging from the complex to the no so complex and you got a pretty bitchin’ beginning to a new series.
The story ends the way that most series end these days, which is not at all. She manages to get her group of ragtag humans to their destination without eating any of them, but the romance is left hanging as is any sort of closure with any of the villains.

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