Young's powerful debut, first in the Dustlands series, is elevated above its now familiar postapocalyptic setting by an intriguing prose style and strong narrative voice that show a distinct Cormac McCarthy vibe. When 18-year-old Saba's father is killed and her twin brother, Lugh, is kidnapped, she sets out to rescue him, along with their younger sister, Emmi, and Saba's intelligent raven, Nero. Their travels across the desert wasteland bring them to a violent city in which Saba is forced to fight for her life in an arena. When she escapes with the help of a group of women warriors, she and her new allies (including a handsome and infuriating male warrior named Jack) try to prevent Lugh from being sacrificed. Young's writing style-channeled through Saba's wonderfully defined narrative voice-may be off-putting at first, but readers will quickly get used to the lack of quotation marks and idiosyncratic spelling and punctuation ("There ain't nuthin written in the stars. They're jest lights in the sky") and be riveted by the book's fast-paced mix of action and romance. It's a natural for Hunger Games fans. Ages 14-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
This postapocalyptic opener to the Dustlands series looks like a doorstop but reads with the fleetness of a book half its length, In part, this is due to the terse narration of 18-year-old Saba, whose single-minded determination to find her kidnapped twin brother, Lugh, takes her far out into a blasted wasteland. With her annoying kid sister in tow, Saba gets captured and is forced to fight in cage matches for the pleasure of the maniacal king Vicar Pinch (who styles himself after an ancient portrait of Louis XIV) and the populace he keeps in his thrall thanks to copious amounts of the chewable drug chaal. Saba can be a tough heroine to root for, sullen and ungrateful to those who try to help her, but fans of the Hunger Games' Katniss will find in her similar reserves of hidden good nature and ferocious fighting abilities. Some of the haphazard plot logic is hard to swallow, but Young has leveraged an intriguing action-romance story into a Mad Max-style world that'll leave readers both satisfied and eager for more.--Chipman, Ia. Copyright 2010 Booklist
Gr 7 Up-Eighteen-year-old Saba and her beloved twin brother, Lugh, know nothing of the world beyond the bleak landscape of their father's shack on the outskirts of a postapocalyptic Wrecker city. Everything changes, though, when the dreadful Tonton (think Haiti's Tonton Macoutes) descend on the homestead, kill their father, and abduct Lugh. Saba sets out to find him, trailed by her annoying little sister, Emmi. As the two girls cross a desert they enter a world in which the surviving remnants of humanity have organized themselves into haphazard and often brutal factions. An unlikely pair of scavengers captures them and force Saba to fight other slave girls in a cagelike coliseum. Her physical strength and ferocious spirit earn her the sobriquet "The Angel of Death." After a slow start that establishes the background and the siblings' relationships, the plot takes off on a wild ride through intrigues and battles, encounters with dastardly villains, and sudden reversals of fortune. Saba is aided by a seemingly human crow, loyal Emmi, a band of women warriors known as the Free Hawks, and a handsome scoundrel named Jack. Readers know that Saba will succeed, but not without overcoming impossible odds. Invented spelling and punctuation (no quotation marks are used) add to the vigor of the telling, and the protagonist's voice vibrates with the glorious energy of a young woman coming into her power. Saba has just the right combination of warrior rage and tender heart to survive and thrive in her chaotic world. The ending leaves several threads hanging, and readers will be eager for more.-Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.