Great premise. With probably the worst execution possible.
The writing style reminds me of the Chaos Walking trilogy, but it's almost an insult to Patrick Ness, because while the two styles share similarities in misspelled words, lots of dialect, etc., Moira Young's writing is just . . . really poor. She uses her style as a crutch to mask her very simple and awful prose. An example:
As written in the book:
"I ain't doin nuthin fer you, I says.
You ain't gotta choice, she says.
You cain't make me do nuthin, I says.
Oh you'll do ezzackly what I tell you, she says."
Now, without the "spice" of her misspelled words, it's just:
"I ain't doing nothing for you, I say.
You ain't got a choice, she says.
You can't make me do nothing, I say.
Oh you'll do exactly what I tell you, she says."
I don't really know if it makes a difference, but according to the high praise and 5-star reviews, it must. It's 459 pages of writing that reads like a first draft: barely readable writing, way too much that needs to be cut, underdeveloped characters, and random, aimless events plugged in for drama but that don't further plot/characters/etc.
So many things happen at breakneck speed, but it's all one pace. It's all without depth. No action has a consequence. People get hurt--they're miraculously healed so they can do something the story requires them to do. And then they remember they're injured when the love interest comes back into play. All plot points end with a feeling of "well, that was easy".
This book also wins an award for the most cheesy and sickening romantic device ever to be used in YA history: the heartstone. A rosy pink stone that heats up around the wearer's true desire.
Not to mention, Saba (the MC)'s love interest is this cliche, cocky fellow who teases Saba relentlessly--but no, this book is so original, a breath of fresh air!! (and if Moira Young writes "My lips is tinglin" after a kiss one more time . . .)
But I need to give this book SOME credit. I mean, who doesn't love a teaspoon of ableism with their crappy YA post-apocalyptic romance? Enter the villain: the King. The King who is present in maybe 1/16 of the novel, who is always talked about as being "crazy" and also "the devil" but is never actually . . . there, until the end. Where you find out he actually probably does
have some sort of mental problem, referring to himself in the third person and spitting over everyone when he talks. Don't you just love negative representation!
After finishing the book, I have a couple thoughts:
1. The entire 7/8 of the book was about finding Lugh. Saba wouldn't sleep, wouldn't eat, wouldn't bathe
until she found Lugh. Well, she found him, and after a brief hug, she basically went, "Ok, now that that's taken care of, what's next??" I don't . . . understand.
2. I also don't understand Emmi. Was she just in the book to be beaten up in order to hurt Saba? It's ridiculous.
This review turned out a lot more sarcastic and cruel than I intended. But, as you can tell . . . this really wasn't for me.