Raging Star: Dust Lands, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Raging Star: Dust Lands, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Strong nonviolence message in exciting trilogy conclusion.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Explores a future society where lawlessness has taken over, a situation readers can compare with similar ones in many other books and movies. It's also a quest filled with trials, allies, and enemies, another very popular literary idea dating back to Homer's Odyssey. Raging Star breaks all kinds of grammar and spelling rules -- reading and schooling are no longer available to people such as Saba. So readers will have to, for example, fill in their own quotation marks and decide for themselves whether this gives a stronger sense of Saba's character.

Positive Messages

The power of nonviolence against enemies is thoroughly explored here. Also, what makes a good leader, and what are the building blocks of a good society?

Positive Role Models & Representations

Saba is a flawed heroic character who's full of secrets, but she finds her voice as a leader and follows her instincts even though everyone is against her. Jack tells her, "Love don't make a good leader. It weakens you," and Saba finds a way to prove him wrong.


Despite Saba's big push for nonviolence, there are still a few sad deaths by gunshot, some fistfights, an arrow wound stitched up beside a campfire, an exploded bridge with causalities, a beaten boy, a miscarriage, and babies born weak who are left out overnight to die. There's plenty of talk about past losses -- Saba has visions of her dead mother, and Jack thinks back to his baby who died of fever. Also, there's talk of slaves beaten, a girl taking her own life when her baby is taken and killed, forced marriage, people dying in prisons, and people branded.


Saba and Jack sleep together, although it's not described. Other minor characters sleep together, too, but there's only talk of kissing and going off into the woods. Saba recalls with shame sleeping with another character earlier in the series.


Mostly versions of "damn," "gawdamn," and "hell." A few each of "sonofabitch," "ass," and "bulls--t." A character carries a big "W" brand on her forehead, standing for "whore."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters 18 and up drink wine and homemade brew, especially around the campfire. One character smokes a pipe. Talk of one husband being a heavy drinker.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Moira Young's Raging Star is the final book in the postapocalyptic Dust Lands trilogy. Despite the main character's push to topple an oppressive society without violence, there are still some sad deaths by guns, some fistfights, an exploded bridge with casualties, and babies born weak who are left outside to die. The sexual content is similar to that in Book 2, Rebel Heart. The 18-year-old main character has sex, but it's not described. Language gets as strong as "sonofabitch" and "bulls--t," but rarely. Characters 18 and over drink wine and strong homemade brews around a campfire, and one man smokes a pipe. Saba's quest for nonviolent opposition is met with resistance, but she's determined. She's a flawed hero character of the best kind: She follows her instincts and overcomes self-doubt to be a true leader.

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What's the story?

Saba desperately needs a plan. She's back on the outskirts of New Eden, hiding out from De Malo, the Machiavellian mastermind behind this strict new society where no one is free and families are torn apart for the "greater good." She waits with her small band of rebels during the day and sneaks off to meet her insider contact at night. No one knows Jack's still alive -- a secret she keeps from everyone as he acts as her eyes and ears in New Eden. But there's a bigger secret she's keeping: that Saba slept with De Malo in a moment of weakness. All that comes back to haunt her when her rebels blow up a bridge and she's followed. De Malo hunts Saba down and makes his demands: He will marry her by the blood moon -- in seven days' time -- or all the rebels will be killed, including Jack, as well as Saba's brother and sister. Now Saba really needs a plan. Seeing babies born weak left out to die and families separated gives her an idea -- one that may work without any weapons at all. The only problem is everyone thinks she's crazy and that it will never work, let alone in seven days' time.

Is it any good?

The writing is so strong in the Dust Lands series. Author Moira Young has a gift for poetic reflection and the building of fascinating characters. Saba is both tough as nails and a deep thinker, and her band of rebels comprises incredibly colorful characters. The addition of the senile junkyard pilot totally fits in with the motley crew. 

Fans of the series will enjoy the conclusion, RAGING STAR, but may find the writer's strengths getting in the way of consistent pacing. Saba broods and doubts herself a bit too long, and the fascinating characters spend a lot of time arguing and posturing -- way too far into the book. The climactic action and the ending feel quite jarring and abrupt as a result. It's also memorable, though, as is the whole series. Readers surely will be on the lookout for whatever this talented writer comes up with next.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Dust Lands trilogy. Did you find Raging Star a satisfying conclusion? Was anything unexpected? Will you read more from author Moira Young? 

  • Why is Saba's idea to fight De Malo without using violence so hard for everyone else to accept? 

  • What nonviolent movements have occurred in history? What made them so powerful? ​

Book details

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