CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 5 . . . . October 5, 2012
Rebel Heart is the second volume of the “Dust Lands” trilogy. In the earlier book,Blood Red Road(Vol. XVII, No. 35, May 13, 2011), Saba was able to defeat the Tonton and rescue Lugh, her brother who had been kidnapped. Now, the siblings and various others are headed west, away from Tonton territory and hopefully toward a new life. Nothing in Saba’s world is ever that simple, however. There are new enemies to contend with, and even her closest allies, like Jack, no longer seem trustworthy. Saba is determined to find Jack and find out the truth once and for all, but this leads her through new and dangerous lands and eventually into the very heart of Tonton power.
Moira Young will keep readers on edge from the opening page of this novel. The character of Saba continues to grow and mature as she carries on her quest from the previous volume. She is tough and smart when she needs to be and yet is increasingly aware of her softer side. Thus, Young mixes an excellent adventure story with a love story. Saba hopes that her heartstone truly guides her and that, when she finds Jack, he will be able to explain his actions. But before that happens, two other men fall in love with Saba, and she must confront her feelings for them as well. Her brother, who has always been her closest soul-mate, has become more distant and less willing to confide in Saba, and this, too, stirs up feelings which are new to her.
Rebel Heart is set in a post-apocalyptic world, full of heat, dust, and problems in finding the bare necessities of life, such as food and water. As Saba and her fellow travellers follow the Wraithway, they realize there is no opportunity to stop, a point which is proven when they see hundreds of skulls in a sort of temple, the aftermath of earlier battles. During her headlong rush to find Jack, Saba ends up destroying a bridge and later a road in order to keep pursuers at bay, and she highjacks a wagon which turns out to be filled with weapons and explosives. The excitement and action never end and are guaranteed to keep readers involved from beginning to end of the book.
While often headstrong and stubborn, Saba is also quick on her feet and willing to fight for what she believes in. Although ruthless, she can also be hurt, and thus readers will feel empathy for the softer side of this young warrior. Young’s prose suits the storyline, filled with action and moving quickly - at times using only a word or two to convey an entire scene. Yet the rhythm is slower and more poetical elsewhere. The unusual syntax and spelling, which are frequently used, underline the raw new world in which Saba finds herself.
Rebel Heart will reach many young adult readers as it is a wonderful combination of adventure, romance and fantasy which involves intriguing and believable characters thrown into circumstances which test them at every level.
Ann Ketcheson, a retired high school teacher-librarian and teacher of English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.
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