Title: “Rebel Heart (Dust Lands #2)”
Author: Moira Young
Genre: YA, Western, Dystopia/Post-Apocalyptic
Publication Date: October 30, 2012 (S&S – North America)
Source: Edelweiss review copy
Summary: It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.
What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants?
☆: 2.5/5 stars – beautifully written, but poorly paced.
Review: I think we were all left reeling after the events of the first book in this series, “Blood Red Road” after it was published last year. It was a hot, wild western ride with lots of action and a good dose of emotion to balance it out. So when I heard that “Rebel Heart” would be continuing the series, I was pretty excited. But reading it…well, that was something else entirely. While I enjoyed the more thoughtful, contemplative tone in this book, there wasn’t enough to keep me interested in the whole thing. I wish I could say that I loved “Rebel Heart”, but it just fell really flat in the plot/arc department.
Things I love about this series: the tone, and the style of the writing. Young’s voice is fresh and new, and it’s like being in an old western…except in the future with a really depressing (but really well constructed) world attached to it. She gets the sensory imagery and details down really well, and you can almost taste the dust in your mouth. The world is also great, and you can practically see the earth shriveling beneath your feet. Her characters are extremely compelling, and are sympathetic.
However, this book fell flat in the sense that there was very little feeling of momentum (physical momentum). There was a lot of Tolkienesque journeying, and thus, left Saba and the rest of the main cast lots and lots of time to emotionally reflect on the last part of the first book. As satisfied as I was with the emotional momentum (more on that later) and tension that really revved up within the group, and especially between Saba and Lugh, there wasn’t enough external, physical tension to keep the story going. This is why I felt I couldn’t quite finish it – it just started to lag after awhile, and my attention drifted, and suddenly, with all of these feelings and reflections and emotions, I’d had enough. There just wasn’t enough external tension/momentum coming to help balance that all out.
Now, very cleverly, I liked the way that Young shrank the world around our main cast to them and their journey – it really gave a good internal worldbuilding landscape for the reader to admire. Things are not well within that group – definitely not well within Lugh in particular – and so there’s lots to work with there. Saba is becoming increasingly unhinged by visions of people dead by her hand, Lugh is having severe PTSD, and everyone else is getting tired and hungry and just wanting to make it to Big Water. This was a great way of tweaking a world already in place externally and building more internally, and I have to laud Young for that. Through various styles of POV we get a good look at how everyone’s doing post-book one, and how quickly the group devolves into fighting each other in various ways and in various situations. I loved the emotional angst that Young had no qualms about delving into – and that was really refreshing, period. But without a lack of something happening on the outside, soon all it is is angst in the end, and thus, starts to lose meaning.
To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m up for book three or not. The writing styles of external/internal worldbuilding and action/emotion between these two books were so intensely different that I’m not sure what to expect for book three. But I may just take a shot at it. Final verdict? It needed more action. Period. I just wanted a little more external threat, rather than just the threat of madness on Saba’s part, or PTSD on Lugh’s part, or longing on Jack’s part. I need more than emotions to feed me in books.
But that’s just how I feel. “Rebel Heart” is out today from Simon and Schuster in North America, so be sure to check it out. While it definitely deserves the read, it’s polarized the audience, so how will you feel about it?