Rebel Heart by Moira Young is the second book in the Dust Lands series. I first read Blood Red Road back in 2017 so this has taken me a ridiculous amount of time to get to, especially as I got this book later on in 2017!! But I’m reading it now and that’s what matters.
This book, and the whole series, does have a unique writing and speech style, I’d been a little worried from my memories of BRR but I was able to delve straight into the plot regardless. Just be aware that this is written in dialect and that speech doesn’t have speech marks around it to distinguish it from the rest of the text.
We do get to see a fair bit of PTSD representation in this book, from a fair few different people who are all coping differently. I found that incredibly interesting and I really liked that we saw different coping methods and how that impacted the people around them.
We do have the classic miscommunication and not-listening-to-the-person-with-knowledge issues, and in relation to that I was decently annoyed with Lugh a lot of the time in this book (the twin brother of our main character Saba). He is of course dealing with his own PTSD, but he’s also obtusely ignoring his sisters feelings and in certain cases aiming to harm her. I wonder if he’ll be redeemed at all in the final book.
Despite me saying I was annoyed at Lugh, I do have to admit that Saba is absolutely ridiculous in a fair number of her decisions in this and it was frustrating to watch. A lot were simply bad decisions but ones that I could understand, but why oh why is she running after a man she just met? *eyeroll*
And in terms of romantic relationships, I was getting a fair bit uncomfortable by the end of this book with just how many men were assuming control over her body. There were a fair few men throwing themselves at Saba, and that’s annoying but predictable when it comes to YA literature, but the control aspect is just so angering. I hope it’s addressed more in the final book.
I did adore the animal characters of Nero and Tracker, they added a lot of much needed levity and love in this book. And I also did very much enjoy a section right at the beginning of the book (roughly between page 50 and 80) where the vibes were really similar to The Singing by Alison Croggon (the last book in my favourite series). It was super interesting seeing how another author handled the same topic and if I’m honest I’m super disappointed that this didn’t go further down that path rather than the plotline Young chose.
On CAWPILE I rated it: Characters: 6, Atmosphere: 6, Writing: 6, Plot: 5, Intrigue: 6, Logic: 5, and Enjoyment: 6, giving an overall score of 5.71 and a 3* rating.
As you can tell, this wasn’t exactly a fantastic read. Nothing specifically awful, but there were issues with the motives utilised to move the characters, and peoples reactions to events. The men being absolutely ridiculous towards Saba and her sister just being uselessly stuck in the middle of it all. Despite this I was happy enough to keep reading each night, and so I’ll definitely be picking up the third and final book. It’s on my shelves already so there really isn’t any reason not to, I just hope that this was middle book syndrome and we get a great book for the finale!
Highlight here for trigger warnings: death, murder, PTSD, violence, parental death (mentioned), graphic descriptions of a corpse, sexism, rape (mentioned), lack of consent.