The incredible box office successes of Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games has left movie producers scrambling for the next young adult phenomenon.
Moira Young’s “Blood Red Road” is in production with Ridley Scott with an eye on 2014. It’s Young’s first novel and she has plans for a trilogy under the title “Dust Lands”.
Good luck. Each of the movies listed above were unique. And each inspired writers to follow in their footsteps: Harry Potter led a rush of fantasy novels; Twilight opened vampire floodgates; Hunger Games rose to the fore of a dystopia craze.
“Blood Red Road” is not unique, though the story is interesting enough. A twin watches kidnappers haul off her brother and vows to find him, no matter what.
Saba conquers everything Young throws at her: cage fighting; giant desert worms; a raging river. If there were cars in the dystopia, Saba would have had a wild car chase, too.
But the appealing, selfless innocence of a Harry Potter or Katniss did not translate in this novel. Saba’s voice is harsh and self-centered. She thinks in short, abrupt sentences. She says things like, “Breathe, just breathe…” over and over again.
The reader is in her head but not in her heart, because she is not in her heart. According to Young, Saba’s life has been tougher than everyone else. She writers her narrator as so wounded, Saba cannot warm to the people who pour out of the city, the desert, and the enemy forces to risk their lives for her.
Why do they risk their lives, Saba wonders. “Why?” the reader might echo. Saba dpesn’t trust anyone or care about anyone but her twin. Her cruel treatment of others is as self-serving as the landscape she traverses.
In the happy ending world of stereotype young adult novels, everything must wrap nicely at the end and accordingly, Young writes a stiff and romantic ending.
“You’re in my blood, Saba,” romantic lead Jack says.
In his blood? As in “Blood Red Road”? These words do not bode well for their relationship, to be continued in Book Two. A sequel this writer will not bother reading.