My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Disclaimer: I listened to the audiobook of Blood Red Road, and when I didn't like something in the narration, I often asked myself, "but would I appreciate it or understand it more if this person's voice wasn't bothering me so much?" So, this review may be unfairly lopsided, especially since I heard such great things about this book (and it's sequel, Rebel Heart). I heard Hunger Games comparisons mentioned. I'm sorry to say that Hunger Games for me this is not, but it's still an interesting (and fast paced) post-apocalyptic journey.
I did really like how the novel starts; it showed exciting promise. Our heroine, 18 year old Saba, lives an isolated existence in a shack made of tires with her twin brother, Lugh, her dad and her little sister. The author does a really great job of subtly hinting at how food and water have become increasingly hard to come by for this family in a place once appropriately named "Silverlake". Young also establishes the dynamic of the family deftly, just in time for a big, red, menacing dust cloud to blow "into town" and cause all sorts of turmoil. Lugh is abducted by black robed riders under mysterious circumstances that hint at some cult-ish, quasi-religious world beyond Silverlake in a very intriguing way. And so Saba hits the road, hell bent on finding her twin.
Great start, right? And there's plenty of non-stop suspense, action and even romance (!) to come. So what's my problem with not loving this book? I feel like Young didn't reach 100%, though she showed awesome promise. There were some characters and situations that just fell flat for me, or (worse), weren't consistent. Let's just say there were a couple of "oh, come on!" moments for this reader. The thing that bothered me the most was the evil king that supposedly rules just about everything in this area (whatever area it may be) of what was probably once North America. He is a total wiener, and I just could not realistically believe that people would obey him, or that someone wouldn't overthrow him the first second they had. I can't go into much detail without spoilers, but he was the worst, and it just didn't jive for me that all this woe would be caused by such a total loser of a monarch. I did, however, really like how grotesque he was both physically and mentally. King of the creeps, for sure.
Other than that, I did like this book. If I decide to read the sequel, I'm definitely going to read the print copy to give Saba's real voice a second chance.