Rebel Heart (Dust Lands #2) by Moira Young (2012)
YA Fiction | Post-Apocalypse | Western
“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?”
Book One: BLOOD RED ROAD
pooled ink Review:
**Warning: Minor Spoilers**
Blood Red Road might’ve had its flaws (as every book does) but I really enjoyed it. Totally hooked me. But sometimes when I become so excited with a story I become nervous to read what will happen next, ya know? And so I kept putting off the sequel until I finally caved and checked it out from the library. Well…I liked Rebel Heart, but not even close to how much I liked book one.
The good things first!
I really loved how the book opened with a chapter (or section, since this book doesn’t really have chapters) from Jack’s POV. It was something we needed to witness and it also ended up setting up the story with a mini-cliffhanger of promised bloodshed. It was a real OH NO moment before cutting it off and plopping us down in Saba’s POV as she travels west with her family.
This book took on some great depths with Saba and Lugh both struggling from the trauma of what they went through in Blood Red Road – Saba killing her friend Epona and Lugh enduring captivity with the Tonton. I’m glad this turmoil wasn’t brushed off or ignored. Instead we watch as it changes tough Saba to a haunted one and sweet Lugh to an angry one. And even though Lugh wasn’t happy about it, I loved how we get to spend more time with star reading. Auriel can read the stars, speak with the spirits, and soothe the soul. She was definitely an interesting character and an important guide for Saba.
We also finally get to really hear DeMalo talk and command the page with his plans after he abandoned Pinch to his fate in the last book. Even though we only really got glimpses of his mysterious character in book one, I could feel at once that he was someone to keep an eye on and I was right. He’s got plans and he was just biding his time to push them into action. He’s also a total cult leader with an air of psychotic hippie and this I did not expect at all haha. I had the vibe that he was very clever, deadly, strong, and patient. Utopia leader was not ever something I would’ve ascribed to him lol.
Overall this book is full of the essence and atmosphere that hooked me in book one so the pages flew by as I became reacquainted with these fighting characters as they endure this harsh world. That being said this book held a lot of potential to expand the world-building, a lot, and yet it seemed so surface level! So many different characters, groups, and perspectives are introduced and yet we don’t really get the chance to go deeper than a name tag. Look, this book had its strengths and I liked it, but definitely not as much as Blood Red Road. To be honest I ended up skimming a lot. I still hate that there aren’t quotation marks for the dialogue, and there were just a few too many things that irked me. Nothing enough to make me not like the book, but definitely enough to keep me from loving it (hence my skimming).
Saba almost has a “chosen one” vibe in this book and I don’t know why exactly but it irks me haha. In some ways I guess it was hinted at in Blood Red Road but in this one it was much more definite. I preferred her just being a nobody girl trying to save her brother. But that’s just me. And it’s such a small detail honestly that like I said earlier, it didn’t keep me from liking the story.
Jack. I wish we got more time with Jack. Really this book’s plot was the same as book one except this time Saba is traveling with Lugh to rescue Jack instead of the other way around. And Lugh is a much less preferable travel companion. I get that he went through who knows what while in captivity and that maybe he fears that Jack will take Saba away from him, but his character was pretty weakly developed so instead it just came across like he was a stubborn jerk who hated Jack even though Jack helped save his stupid life. Seriously annoying character unfortunately.
Maeve is awesome so I’m glad she returned to the story but I don’t think Maeve would’ve been dumb enough to misunderstand Jack’s role with the Tonton. She’s smart and it was painfully obvious what he was doing and yet she just instantly believed the worst? And after everything they went through together? It annoyed me. And it annoyed me more that for a moment Saba doubted Jack too. Everyone in this book keeps saying that Jack is out for himself but he was the most kind and selfless person in all of book one so that’s ridiculous. And Lugh doesn’t even know him!! So he’s not allowed to have an opinion haha. I get that wondering if Jack is bad or good was supposed to be an intriguing plot line that would throw out plot twists throughout the book but it didn’t work.
But at least Emmi remains on Jack’s side. In Blood Red Road Emmi constantly irritated me but in this book she was almost my favorite character. Loyal, rational, sweet, and a voice of reason! A far cry from book one when she constantly messed up or got in the way.
Tommo! Oh Tommo. I loved Tommo in book one and for the most part he was the same guy in this book except his crush on Saba grows? Apparently? But I don’t understand him feeling so surprised and betrayed by Saba yearning for Jack. He’s known that they care about each other since the day they met and he’s all she can talk about in this book! Jack is the bloody reason why Saba does anything in this book!! And Tommo isn’t stupid. Or at least he wasn’t? Ugh.
And finally back to Saba. I honestly kind of hate how Saba just jumped off that cliff right into DeMalo’s arms. Total Bella from Twilight move. Saba is fierce so that seeming act of betrayal shouldn’t have had her flinging herself off a cliff in woe. Ridiculous. And okay I know she was hurt, betrayed, and angry at the time but it was her first time ever and she’s been so NON touchy feely AND she knows full well the evil madness DeMalo has been wreaking on the people AND YET just because she felt a lil ZING she gives it all up in a desperate huff?? She somehow can’t bring herself to hate him for basically being a second Hitler?? Just seemed a touch out of character for her is all. Also that was a stupid thing to do no matter which way you look at it. Does she regret it and see that? Yeah. Does it become handy later on as a manipulation tool? Yeah. But I still don’t like it. Saba is impulsive and quick to anger, so in that sense I can totally see this happening, but at the same time I really can’t. I just don’t buy it. It was a stupid character and writing choice.
But at least we finally get a really cute scene with Saba and Jack! A scene of forgiveness and confession. A moment of simplicity and tenderness. It was everything I’ve been waiting for (even if it does end up triggering another obstacle that I’m sure will wreak stupid havoc of some sort in book three).
I liked this book in a general sense, but I had a lot of issues with it that left me feeling disappointed. This one just seemed like a lot of pointless arguing. Which is funny because the first book definitely was full of arguing, but with Jack it felt like he was helping/pushing Saba to grow. With Lugh it just became repetitive and annoying. A lot of arguing, a lot of anti-Jack sentiments, a lot of anti-Saba sentiments, a lot of selfishness from all the characters, a lot of ridiculous drama, a lot of failed plot twists, and a lot of the plot elements in this book seemed dropped in to force the book to meet the publishing industry’s marketing ploys. Character development held a lot of potential but overall was weakly executed, the plot sometimes stood strong and sometimes pandered to the market, the world-building was lackluster, and yeah I still hate that there aren’t quotation marks for the dialogue.
This one just didn’t suck me in, I had a few issues with the story, and it seemed like it moved too fast. A lot seemed to happen and yet not much happened at all. I wanted more from it. That being said I’m still going to read the next book because I want to finish what I started with this series and I am genuinely curious to see how everything will turn out, but I hope I enjoy it more than this one. Wait…actually, okay don’t hate me but I might just look up spoilers for book three instead haha. Hey, I have a lot of books on my TBR okay?
Rebel Heart scoops up characters reeling from traumatic trials of the dust lands and sets them on their next wild adventure taking them straight into the heart of New Eden. While Saba and Jack take on the world with guns ablazing to reunite with each other, DeMalo douses the earth in blood to bring forth new life from the ashes. An interesting sequel indeed.
Purchase Here: Rebel Heart
Check out the rest of the series: Blood Red Road (Book 1)
Similar Recommended Reads: Alarum by Talis Jones, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins