by Moira Young
Proclaimed as "Better than The Hunger Games" (MTV's Hollywood Crush), Moira Young's trilogy Dust Lands embeds the reader in a dystopian world that has the characters struggling first with brutality then survival and finally retribution in this final book, Raging Star. Set in motion with the abduction of Saba's twin Lugh in Blood Red Road (Doubleday, 2011; reviewed here), Saba has endured life as the cage-fighter known as the Angel of Death, met Jack and the Free Hawks who help her free Lugh, and then part ways as she and Jack attempt to rebuild connections with others, all within the threat of the Pathfinder's establishment of New Eden (Rebel Heart, Doubleday, 2012; reviewed here).
Saba has become the unofficial leader of a motley resistance group that includes Lugh, her younger sister Emmi, the deaf boy Tommo, the raider Creed, Free Hawk Ash, Ike's beautiful Molly and travelling medicine man Slim. In secret collaboration with Jack who has infiltrated the Tonton, Saba works to sabotage the Pathfinder's (DeMalo's) plans for a new world he has envisioned. While young teens are paired as Stewards to settle on plots of land in New Eden, babies and children are raised at Eden House to become Stewards, and slaves are used to construct roads and bridges, Saba is unsure of the efficacy of destroying the Pathfinder's work by violent means. It doesn't help that she is conflicted by her feelings for Jack, who seems less loving to her, and DeMalo, who convincingly suggests that all her friends and family would be safe if she would agree to be his.
Still, encouraged by the very images DeMalo uses to impress others of his vision of a new world, Saba suggests the idea of using non-violence to ensure a New Eden that accepts all, gaining power through bringing families and loved ones together again. As shrewd as that plan may sound, not everyone believes it to be so. But Saba has grown as a sister, a leader, and a friend, and she knows to draw on all her skills and experiences to keep those she loves safe while offering hope for a better future. Sadly, as determined as she is, trust is an issue that she still hasn't resolved.
While dystopian literature is hot everywhere, only Moira Young takes readers into a society so unfamiliar in its way of speaking, vocabulary, and way of doing things that it becomes a true representation of life in a post-Wrecker world. We are the Wreckers, those who developed the technology and advances of planes and cars and structures that only exist as ruins or remnants. The Wreckers who dragged the world through global warming, leaving the land a dust bowl of sand storms and infertile soil. And with a crumbling society, education and schooling would have crumbled as well, leaving few characters speaking the English of our Wrecker world. Deciphering their literal and oral vocabulary, from shooters and firesticks to long-lookers and trackways, and spellings such as fer, yer, and git, make it clear that their world has been built on the vestiges of another time and culture.
With Raging Star, Moira Young has ensured Dust Lands a critical spot on any top ten list of dystopian literature. Don't be fooled by its lack of film adaptation, not yet any way. Dust Lands will surpass all other dystopian literature by virtue of its chaotic world, fallible characters, including their relationships, and honest representation of the world we're bringing about through our actions, greed and arrogance. We can only hope Dust Lands remains a world of literature, not our future.