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Rebel Heart by Moira Young (2012)
Rebel Heart, Dust Lands #2 (2012)
by Moira Young (twitter.)
Hardcover Edition
Publication Date: October 30th, 2012
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry (Imprint of Simon & Schuster)
Buy a copy via Amazon.
Synopsis from Goodreads.

(Trailer for Blood Red Road. Rebel Heart doesn’t have a trailer)

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.

My Thoughts:
Unlike most readers, although I did enjoy Blood Red Road, I wasn’t impressed (partly because of the “Better than The Hunger Games…” blurb, which made me go in with unreasonably high expectations–obviously, the publisher is milking that blurb for all its worth, evident in its SECOND appearance on Rebel Heart’s cover.) Just like Blood Red Road, Rebel Heart doesn’t quite surpass The Hunger Games in my book–but it is a better attempt. Rebel Heart has more depth and emotional conflict. We see characters develop, especially Saba as she faces guilt and vacillates between family, friends, and love. Fans of Blood Red Road will be sure to ravenously devour Rebel Heart.

Pace, Everyone Decided to Take Weed…Then Cocaine with a Double-shot of Red Bull
For a bulk of the first half or so, we follow Saba at snail pace as she travels across various lands, signaled by the start of a new chapter. To be honest, I didn’t care where she was, they all seemed the same to me. These chapters are where we also explore Saba’s inner conflicts. She has to come to terms with (literally) seeing the ghosts of all the people she’s killed (but all of a sudden, it’s fixed because she visits a mystic?!?) Being impatient, I found myself putting the book down numerous times. Fortunately, the pace does pick up as Saba escapes from various dangers.

Then the last hundred pages? Every one is on cocaine. I expected Saba to be irrationally impulsive, but she turns bipolar. Somehow she suddenly turns into a harlot, while I’m scratching my head wondering where the old Saba went. “Huh? What in the world did I just read?!?! Did I miss about fifty pages of development somewhere? Is this real life?” Stuff happened so quickly and so randomly that I wondered if Saba was hallucinating again.

Hello, Love Square.
Like I said, Saba turns in to a harlot. Somewhere along the way she also grew super attractive to all men within a twenty mile radius. But I also can’t say it’s really a love triangle/square, simply because it isn’t mutual.

Lugh, Wins Award for Character That Needs to Shut Up
I didn’t like him in Blood Red Road, despite Saba’s constant praise over his gorgeous hair, I felt his actions were selfish. First, he sat on his butt and waited to be saved by his younger sister like a damsel in distress, then he took a deaf kid’s bow and left him with a slingshot. I figured my dislike was only because he didn’t have a chance to prove his worth (he was only in the first and last chapters.) I also thought he changed by the end of Blood Red Road, where he let’s Saba lead the group. But it turns out my gut feelings weren’t wrong. He is constantly whining and telling Saba that Jack is not worth it. It seems like he forgot who risked their lives to save him. However, I can’t completely fault him for his negativity. He is the one who is forced to follow his sister while she blindly tries to meet up with her lover when they should be trying to find a better life.

I remember loving him in Blood Red Road. His opening chapter in the book reminded me of just how much I liked him. He has an admirable sense of responsibility, and a sense of humor. Unfortunately, he is like Lugh in Blood Red Road, and only appears in the beginning and ending chapters.

Emmi: Hooray! She’s Less Annoying in Rebel Heart
I found her the most annoying nine year old ever in Blood Red Road. Her stubbornness and refusal to follow directions made me feel for Saba. I related to Saba most during her frustrations toward her younger sister. Thankfully, Emmi grows into a stronger character, even stronger than her brother, Lugh. But she does do something stupid as a plot device to send the crew into ANOTHER “adventure.” *bangs head on the wall* WHY?!?!

I Probably Should’ve Re-read Blood Red Road…But I Was Too Lazy
This is a problem with all sequels that come out ages after the last book. I never remember anything and spend the first half of the book blindly trying to figure everything out. I plunged into Rebel Heart six months after I read Blood Red Road, thinking it was just six months. It’s not like I’m suffering from Alzheimer’s. I should be fine! Well, that might’ve been a mistake. For the first fourth of the book I was desperately trying to recall what happened in the last book. I mistook all the animals for people and didn’t know who was supposed to be still alive.

Writing Style, That Accent!:
The accent is usually what most readers have a problem with in Blood Red Road. It doesn’t get better in Rebel Heart. For the first chapter, I kept thinking “WHERE ARE MY BELOVED QUOTATION MARKS?!” Thankfully, I grew accustomed to it pretty quickly. I remember disliking the accent in Blood Red Road, but I forgot how much. I winced every time I saw “expects” as “especks,” or “situation” as “sitchation.” It made me think of the characters as under-educated barbarians, which might be what Young was trying to do. Only one character speaks “normally,” DeMalo. But then he knows how to read, so maybe that’s why. I am curious to find out his story.

I Can’t Take the Name “Tonton” Seriously, It Sounds Like a Toy
Is it just me? I keep thinking of “Tomtom,” the GPS car navigation system.

Props To Moira Young for Touching Mature Topics
I didn’t expect Young to go this route, but I applaud her for touching mature topics such as sex, rape, death, and drugs. However, I felt these aspects could have been explored further, and not just breezed over like taboo subjects. “Ha! I touched it!!…but not really!” Death, which carried enormous weight in the first half, resulted into nothing in the second. People were killed without a tear being shed.

Overall, I felt the adrenaline and character complexity in Rebel Heart made it a stronger novel than its predecessor. Fans are sure to be left breathless (and a bit furious with Saba.) Hurry up and read it! I need to discuss the “plot twist” with someone!

Rating: C++