Rebel Heart – Review

She’s prickly an stubborn an everythin you’d put at the bottom of a list if you was makin a…a list of that kind. Which I ain’t. I didn’t.

But? says Molly.

But ohmigawd Molly, she shines so bright. (page 23)

But ohmigawd, Moira Young, you’re killing me already.

 Saba thought her world would return to normal after they defeated the Tonton and rescued her kidnapped brother Lugh. The family head west for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But a formidable enemy is on the rise. What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants?

I won’t lie: I put off Rebel Heart for a good while, after my sister and a friend both said they didn’t find it as good as the first novel, Blood Red Read. Just so it’s clear, they have lost all literary credit with me, because Rebel Heart was brilliant and unpredictable and everything I want in a story.

First, I think the entire Dustlands should come with a warning. They are extremely dangerous. This happened to me while reading Rebel Heart: 

Part of this is because of the clever structure of the book. All three of the Dustlands books are divided into sections, rather than chapters. In Rebel Heart, the story is split into 10 chunks. Because of this, when you say, Oh I’ll just go to the end of the chapter,” your family and close ones better be aware that they will not be seeing you for most of the day.

I felt like I was tumbling helplessly into this book: everythin jest came back to me. The writing style, most notably, the absence of quotations to introduce speaking somehow works perfectly: I can always differentiate narration from dialogue, and who is speaking, without having to go back and re-read. It’s simply flawless, the writing.

Everything was flawless, really. I might have hated some characters (more on that later), but it wasn’t because of poor writing or weak character development, or just terrible characters in general. Every character was human, was real, and that means they’re not perfect. We, as readers, are going to get mad with them, disappointed with them, but it doesn’t make them less spectacular or less dynamic – it does the contrary. It makes me believe, that somewhere in the future, there could be a Saba, that maybe in our own world there is a Saba an Jack an Lugh an Emmi among us. I love that magic.

Saba. I’ve loved Saba in the first book. She was strong and beautiful as a character. I thought she was perfect. Rebel Heart gave me more depth into her character: in Rebel Heart we get to see how she reacts to the aftermath of tougher decisions with lasting consequences. She’s still badass:

I grab him. Twist the neck of his shirt. Quick an hard, to cut off his breath. I says, I am the Angel of Death, little man.

The red hot burning and twisting inside of her has not faded at all, but I found myself frustrated with Saba many times in this book. My biggest problem with Saba was her stubbornness.  She thinks she can conquer the world all by her self, that the things she needs to do require her to take on the world herself. This is not altogether a problem. The problem was that she does NOT listen. I wanted to reach into the book and smack her head together, shouting, LISTEN, GAWDAMNIT, SABA. It brought to mind those horror movies where there is a serial killer/monster lurking outside and EVERYONE in the house warns the protagonist not to go outside, but he declares that he will, or finds some thin justification to do so. Saba also made me sad. She has to make some tough decisions, and unfortunately, she doesn’t do so with complete success. At one point, the full force of her mistake blasts her in the face, and I was trembling with worry.  Some of the things she did left me disappointed, but I want her to learn from them in the next book. On a lighter Saba note, she’s the hottest thing in the Wasteland and New Eden. Boys, boys, everywhere! Where can I get that milkshake, Moira Young?

On the other hand, her twin, Lugh? I can’t be the only one thinking that Lugh is just a jerk. Quick in temper, undeservingly scathing, hot one minute, cold the next. It came to the point where I didn’t even want him to speak. I need to know what the hell Lugh’s problem is, and only if it’s heart breakingly sad, will I not hate him forever. Your sister crossed the Wasteland, fought countless girls in Hopetown, risked her life FOR YOU. Be grateful! I’m grateful when my sister gives me her leftover fries. If I can appreciate Saba, you should not be barking up her tree, no sir. I think I had such an intense dislike of Lugh because we don’t get much of him in Blood Red Road. Rebel Heart is our first time of prolonged contact with Lugh, and we don’t have the history that Saba and Lugh have. She knows the old Lugh, but all I see is a really mean and jerky brother. The glimpses of the Lugh Saba used to know are rare. This is one that stood out to me: Whatever’s broke, he says, I can fix it. I’ll fix it all. I promise. But after what happened in Rebel Heart, I fear we may never fully see this gentle side of Lugh.

Other characters I enjoyed were Maev and Tommo. Maev is just as intense and kickass as Saba, so I love her automatically. Tommo is just this young boy, so broken and beautiful in spirit, I just want to hug him. Hug him so hard all his broken pieces snap back together into place. I’ve got a ship for him, and most of you probably know who the co-captain is, but I will not say it, for fear of jinxing Raging Star. 

In terms of plot, Moira Young knows how to play your emotions. She knows how to create that roller coaster and send you flying until your heart cain’t hardly take it. I love it. I felt like a broken record while reading this book. First it was: no no no, not ___, no no. Then DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN WHAT ARE YOU- MY HEART, IT- DAMN! And then at the end YES YES YES YES, WAIT NO WHAT. WHAT. WHAT. You think you know where the plot is going, in a general, broad sense, right? WRONG. It’s just like Saba says: Nobody’s like I thought they was. Nuthin’s like I figgered. Nuthin’s like I thought it would be.

You think you know where you’re going, but then all of a sudden a fog descends upon the plot, and you don’t know what’s happening until you’re there, in the moment and the heat of it, and it’s emerging right before your eyes. And it’s glorious. In Rebel Heart, Moira Young twists everything: twists DeMalo, twists Jack, warps the rule of three until I could barely recognize any of them.

The biggest thing that stood out to be in this book wasn’t central to the plot. It was a moment when the plot pauses, and Moira Young seems to be speaking directly to us, here, sitting or lying in our beds and hammocks and cozy chairs. She says something powerful and terribly real and raw about our society and our people (Wreckers), and I don’t want anyone to just pass over it. I’ll close with this, my favourite part of the book:

By the pale, cold of the moon, I look on their violent work. Their earth hate… if restless spirits ride the Wraithway, they ain’t Wreckers. They’re nature spirits. The spirits of earth an water. Of air an plants an creatures. With every right to ride vengeance on men. No, Wrecker souls don’t roam the road. This place, this hell, is their home…Their voices gutter in the flames. Take pity, fergive me, have mercy on me. Prisoners of their own destruction. Trapped till the end of time. (67, bolding my own)

I’m already reading Raging Star.

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