A lot of times when describing some of my favorite books to people I end up noticing a pattern of violent girls in them. Then I’m bashfully shy and seriously considering my tastes when they look at me like I’m demented. In my mind a lot of fictional girls fall under this edgy category but recently there’s Katniss, Katsa, and now Saba.
The incident that changed Saba’s life? That’s easy. Five horsemen came and took her twin away (Lugh.) The only clue she has is their birth on midwinter’s day. Why wasn’t she taken as well? On her way to find her brother she is caught and forced into a life of cage fighting where she must fight for her life nightly. With the help of some girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks she formulates a plan to find her brother and free herself. There’s also a guy named Jack who always happens to be in the wrong bar at the wrong time, but comes in useful by knowing where Lugh is held. Along the way she realizes the situation is a lot bigger than just finding her brother.
As a word of warning: some people don’t like the narrative style which is told from Saba’s point of view, and since she is uneducated there is a lot of misspellings mostly spelled phonetically. Her language is simply a product of her environment. Here’s a passage:
Because everthin’s set. It’s all fixed.
The lives of everybody who’s ever bin born.
The lives of everybody still waitin to be born.
It was all set in the stars the moment the world began. The
time of yer birthin, the time of yer death. Even what kinda
person yer gonna be, good or bad.
If you know how to read the stars, you can read the story
of people’s lives. The story of yer own life. What’s gone,
what’s now an what’s still to come.
Back when Pa was a boy, he met up with a traveler, a man
who knew many things. He learned Pa how to read the stars.
Pa never says what he sees in the night sky but you can see it
lays heavy on him.
Because you cain’t change what’s written.
Even if Pa was to say what he knew, even if he was to warn
you, it would still come to pass.
I see the way he looks at Lugh sometimes. The way he
looks at me.
An I wish he’d tell us what he knows.
I believe Pa wishes he’d never met the traveler.
Personally the plot was strong enough for me to overlook this, and after awhile It didn’t even bother me.
It’s an intense read. I mean a good portion of the book is Saba being a cage fighter and earning the name “Angel of Death.” She’s such a raw girl, and her having a raven companion just adds to her enigmatic persona. What makes her character so likeable despite being so prickly is her immense love and determination to find her brother. Constantly she fights giving in to fear, and I think that is something most people can relate to. If desert pirates and cage fighting wasn’t enough trouble there’s also the Tremors element with giant worms with claws that come out at night to hunt for food. It’s like a desert Odyssey with people trying to survive in a world full of violence and crime.
If you like dystopian novels with strong chicks then by all means read this. And for those who have already read, am I the only one who likes DeMalo? Let’s hope his moniker doesn’t speak of his character.