Blood Red Road (Dust Lands, #1) - Moira Young I loved Blood Red Road. Loved, loved, loved it. I feel entirely unoriginal in a sea of such positive reviews ... but really. This book was right up my alley.*I'll tell you right now, I used the word "kickass" in this review 6 times. Enough said. I also used the word "ass-kickery" which I don't think is actually a word, but you get the idea.*Here's the story:In the future, the world is made up of vast deserts ravaged by sandstorms. 18-year-old Saba lives in such a desert with her twin brother Lugh, her 9-year-old sister Emmi, and their superstitious father. One day, a group of men appear, kidnapping Lugh and killing Saba's father. Determined to find her brother, Saba sets off on an epic journey across the deserts, accompanied by her pet crow named Nero, and Emmi. Saba is met with challenges such as cage-fighting, giant evil worms, and ... well ... lots of crazy stuff.What I thought:I decided to read this because so many people were saying it reminded them of The Knife of Never Letting Go, which is one of my all-time favorites. Upon opening it, my first thought was that yes––the writing in this book is very similar to that of Patrick Ness, the author of the Chaos Walking series. Like Ness, Young writes in an "accent", spelling out a lot of the words phonetically instead of how they're supposed to be spelled. When I first started reading The Knife of Never Letting Go, this type of style bugged me. But after reading all three Chaos Walking books, I guess I became immune to it, because in this book I didn't mind. I see a lot of people complaining about how it takes some getting used to––and okay, if you haven't read Chaos Walking (SHAME ON YOU!), it will. But if you have read Chaos Walking, it most likely won't bother you.Plot-wise, this book is not very similar to The Knife of Never Letting Go. The only similarities I detected were the writing style––as I already mentioned––and the fact that both are futuristic/adventure type stories.If anything, the story reminded me more of The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, another one of my favorite books. (I found it kind of hilarious that Ms. Farmer wrote such a glowing blurb on this book, because I'm like, "Dude ... that's because the idea is almost exactly like yours." LOLZ.) Spoiler if you haven't read BOTH Blood Red Road and House of the Scorpion: Both books involve a "king" ruling over some sketchy drug kingdom, in which all the slaves are controlled with drugs. And in both books, the king demands some type of sacrifice of a teenage boy in order to remain immortal.But, oh well. I'll forgive Moira Young for any subconscious and/or unintended plagiarism, because this book was still kickass. And it had its original aspects, of course.This is quite the compelling, action-packed adventure story. So if you like something very fast-paced and exciting, I highly recommend this. Like I said ... Cage fights. Giant worms that eat people. Seriously, how can you resist a book if it has creatures called "hellwurms" in it?Side note: Did anyone else automatically think of the Alaskan Bull Worm from "SpongeBob"?But no, this book was not all about the action. My favorite part had to be the characters.Saba is now among my top favorite YA heroines. I'll admit, lately I've been a little fed up with the "LOOK AT ME, I'M SO KICKASS!" female leads of every book. Like okay, you're allowed to go around shooting people or whatever, but do you have to rub it in the reader's face so much? Especially in dystopian lit, it seems like all the female characters are Katniss rip-offs. (And don't kill me, but honestly ... I never found Katniss very kickass in the first place.) The problem is, a lot of fictional girls in YA books seem to be the type that are tough on the outside, and then turn out to be all gooey on the inside. Like, a boy comes along and the kickass façade just melts. And suddenly it's like, "BOO-HOO, I HAVE FEELINGS!" ... Yeah, but that isn't the case with Saba.Yes, there is a love interest in this book. Jack. *Refrains from fangirling* (Oh look, I did it!) Okay, but really, he's a wonderful character. Both funny and kickass––just the way I like 'em! (I would like to get to know more about him, but I assume that will be addressed in the remainder of the series...) The relationship between Saba and Jack is nicely done. A little corny in places? ... Well, maybe. But, I don't care. In a book that otherwise has a lot of violence and ass-kickery going on, I think you can get away with being a little cheesy once in a while. Saba does kind of do the clichéd playing-hard-to-get thing, but at least her relationship with Jack doesn't transform her into a wimp. She doesn't break down, and she doesn't get distracted from what she needs to do. Her dedication to finding Lugh is at the top of her priority list, and it remains that way. Even if there's a little romance going on, she still finds time to keep on being a kickass warrior chick.Another thing I loved was Saba's relationship with Emmi. Their relationship has always been complicated since their mother died giving birth to Emmi, and it's always been hard for Saba not to blame Emmi for that. Emmi has always seemed like a burden to her, and the two sisters have never been close. At first Saba acts rather cruel towards Emmi, but both girls change and begin to grow closer together as the story progresses. I have three younger sisters, so I totally related to this aspect of the story. I know how it is. Little sisters can be a total pain, but in the end you have to love them. (I apologize, and I grant thee permission to gag.) In all seriousness, though, I thought their relationship was realistic and beautifully done.All right, I think I'm out of things to say. In conclusion, this book is thrilling, well-written, spectacular, crazy, amazing, romantic, funny, and awesome. And the characters kick butt. I was sucked in from the very first page and was totally hooked throughout the book, to the point where I felt like I was living in it. Go read it, you fools.