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Rebel Heart

It’s late afternoon. Since morning, the trail’s been following a line of light towers. That is, the iron remains of what used to be light towers, way back in Wrecker days, time out of mind. It winds through faded, folded hills, burnt grass and prickle bush.

“There is a price on Saba’s head. She brought down a ruthless tyrant and saved her kidnapped brother. But winning has come at a terrible cost. Saba is haunted by her past—and a new enemy is on the rise, an enemy who searches for her across the Dust Lands. Saba needs Jack: his moonlit eyes, his reckless courage, his wild heart. But Jack has left. And her brother is haunted by ghosts of his own. Then news comes that tells her Jack can never be trusted again. Deceived and betrayed, haunted and hunted, Saba will need all of her warrior’s strength just to survive. For the enemy has cunning plans of his own…”

Rebel Heart isn’t quite as good as Blood Red Road, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It has some excellent new characters and developments, and is certainly just as absorbing and suspenseful as the first book. Young really creates great tension between the characters in an unknown, scarred wasteland. They’re all hoping for better places ahead.

I loved the subtle and not so subtle nods to Of Mice and Men in Rebel Heart. At one point Lugh is telling the oft-repeated story of what it’s going to be like at the Big Water (much like George repeatedly painting a picture of the farm for Lennie). He says that “there’s rabbits everywhere at the Big Water. As far as the eye can see, nuthin but rabbits. You cain’t move fer trippin over ’em. An you ain’t never seen ones like these fellas”. He goes on to add that they’re juicy and tender and just waiting to be cooked. So obviously Of Mice and Men; the book also has a similar dialect to the one used in Steinbeck’s great novel. There’s also that pervasive feeling of hope, that things have got to get better.

Just like Tris in Insurgent, Saba is haunted by her actions, reliving again and again her shooting of her friend Epona. It’s really startlingly similar; Tris shoots Will, Saba shoots Epona. She must come to terms with this and all of the other lives, good and bad, that she’s taken. That said, Saba does a lot of really stupid things, thoughtlessly putting herself and her friends in jeopardy. It was hard to read her motivations. And Lugh’s even worse. He’s nasty and cruel to Saba, and several times I downright hated him. I would have liked to see more of a balance in their relationship; obviously, it couldn’t be restored to what it was before, but instead they were almost constantly snapping and fighting with one another.

WARNING: Minor spoilers ahead.  Proceed at your own peril.

And then there’s Jack. Oh, Jack. We meet him at the very beginning, and then not again, until Maev shows up saying that he’s joined the Ton Ton. Saba doesn’t believe it, but then it’s confirmed. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure where that plot-line was going to end up, although I had read the summary for the third book. And then something totally unexpected happened with DeMalo, and then I was just confused. That wasn’t bad though; the book just captured my interest even more towards the end. I raced towards the finish…and then something awful happened; there were thirty or so pages missing from my paperback edition! Just as I reached the climax of the novel. What a grievous printer’s error. I managed to read the majority of the missing pages on Amazon, but not all, and I didn’t get to read the death of a pivotal character, for which I’m sorry. It was so disappointing; I’ll try and get another copy.

The whole angle with DeMalo was out of the blue, as was Tommo. I actually liked it, though it’s definitely worrying. That plot-line certainly had the effect of making me really excited for the last book, Raging Star. If you loved Blood Red Road, I would certainly recommend Rebel Heart. I’m sorry I didn’t read it sooner.

424 pages.

Rating: ****

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