Title: Rebel Heart (Dust Lands, #2)
Author: Moira Young
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Release Date: October 30th, 2012
I think we're all aware, and familiar with, the concept of the second novel in a trilogy being the weakest link of the series. Rebel Heart, however, for all its flaws, is actually a much stronger novel than
Blood Red Road ever was. If we think back to Blood Red Road, it was nothing more than an engaging, fast-paced, and page-flipping dystopian novel. Yet, Rebel Heart, despite its page-flipping action, is also a much slower, deeper, and intoxicating tale. Yes, there were moments when I felt like pulling my hair out and crying into my pillow. Yes, there were characters I wanted to shoot down and plot threads I wanted to burn. Yet, this book was perfect. I can't think of any other way this story could have gone and when you step back and really think about this novel, disregarding your own conflicted emotions, you will come to see that Moira Young is an unbelievable author, for she lets her characters lead the story and that truly does make all the difference.
Rebel Heart starts out with
Saba, Lugh, Emmi, and Tommo on their way to a new, and better, life in the west. Saba, however, is tormented by dreams of Epona and she feels as if the spirits of the dead are walking with her. Thus, when she stumbles upon a small village with a woman who claims she can help, she takes her chances with the strange magic this woman claims to be able to control. Yet, before Saba can fully be cured, she receives a message – from Jack. Thus begins, yet again, a thrilling and tortuous journey to The Lost Cause, an inn in the north where Saba is set to meet Jack. Along the way however, Saba will be forced to confront her inner demons, her strained relationship with Lugh, and most dangerous of all, her own heart.
I think what prevented Rebel Heart from being a 5 Star read were just a few plot threads that went haywire. For one, I found that the beginning of the novel, with
Saba’s grief and guilt over the death of Epona, was remarkably well-written, but it was solved rather strangely, not to mention abruptly. In addition to that, Lugh, Saba’s brother, seems to be the ultimate downfall of this novel. It is evident that Lugh has undergone a terrible experience during his time with the Tonton, but we are never told what actually happens to him. Instead, we can simply watch as his relationship with Saba wilts away and while these sibling dynamics were brilliant, Lugh’s angst, rudeness, and constant anger simply wasn’t. If anything, he became an extremely annoying character and I felt like smacking him every time he opened his mouth. Lugh never undergoes any type of character growth throughout this novel and ultimately, he winds up remaining a flat character which was rather disappointing.
Those qualms aside, I loved Rebel Heart. Moira Young’s conscious decision to make this a slower and more brooding novel was definitely the right choice as we are able to see some of the after-effects that the events in Blood Red Road have wrought upon Saba. Furthermore, we are privy to a whole new side of
Saba, which only goes to further give her more depth than she already had. While Rebel Heart had its fair share of incredible action, I feel as if it was Saba more than the plot that drove this novel forward. Yet, I thoroughly enjoyed the crew of new characters we got to meet as well as the turn in relationships that we were able to witness with some of the older characters. It is hard to imagine just how firmly these fictional beings worm their way into your heart, but they really make a home there, immersing you, the reader, even more fully into this tale. In addition, there were plenty of jaw-dropping plot twists, unexpected reactions, and betrayals to keep this plot moving wonderfully, so fans of Blood Red Road will not be disappointed on that front either.
Now that I have discussed my issues with this tale, as well as the change of pace, new characters, and the heart-pounding plot line, it’s time to turn our attention to the one aspect of this book I am sure everyone is eagerly waiting to hear more about – the romance. I know there are rumors floating around of a love triangle in this novel, but there isn't one! Yes, we do have another guy creep into
In all honesty though, I wouldn’t worry. Moira Young, more than just being a wonderful author, has proved with Rebel Heart that she knows what she’s doing. I found her characters and their reactions to every situation to be spot-on and while I didn’t particularly like the direction the last quarter of this novel headed and while I am worried beyond anything for the sequel, that doesn’t mean I don’t see the necessity and truth behind it. I think many authors would have steered away from the path that Young took, but I’m glad she took the more difficult – and frankly speaking, controversial – route. Yet, I must reiterate this, that when you step back and look at this novel without allowing your emotions to distort your perception of it, you can see that everything is just perfect. Yes, even the romance because although Jack and Saba aren’t together for the large majority of this novel, they always remain in each others thoughts and their love only grows stronger with their separation.
Overall, Rebel Heart is a novel I wound up enjoying much more than its predecessor, despite the fact that my rating for this is slightly lower than that for Blood Red Road. While I doubt I’ll be re-reading this installment as much as I will Blood Red Road, there’s no doubt about which book is the stronger one and it is refreshing to see such an original take on this plot line. I will warn you though that plenty of plate-smashing is there in the future of this story and once you finish this, you will spend a countless number of sleepless nights waiting for – and worrying about – the sequel, but it is so worth it. Rebel Heart is yet another wonderful installment from Moira Young and has made me a much bigger fan of hers than I ever was before. I doubt everyone will love this novel like I have, but I truly believe that if you look into the heart of Rebel Heart, you will only find something to love.