A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rebel Heart is the second book in the Dust Lands series marketed to mature teens. In this sequel, the violence remains at about the same level: pervasive but usually not described in detail. The worst it gets is imagery of a head boiling, a man nailed to a tree with a spike in his throat, and skin rubbed bloody in a delusional fit. Characters, mostly enemies, die in gunfights and with arrows through the heart. The addictive drug chaal was very prominent in Blood Red Road but isn't here; expect mostly drinking. More prominent is the sexual content. Three couples have sex, but nothing is described in any detail. The main character, Saba, is becoming a true warrior in this book, but needs help from a shaman to put her on the right path and stop seeing the ghosts that haunt her.
What's the story?
Just as Saba gets her twin brother, Lugh, back from Tonton kidnappers, her beloved Jack departs. He must tell the wife of one of those killed by the Tonton the bad news himself and promises to meet them in the good settling lands by the ocean. First they must pass through harsh desert and enemy territory. Tonton, under a tyrannical new leader named DeMalo, have started what they call New Eden and are purging the land of anyone not young, strong, and breeding. Saba, Lugh, their little sister Emmi, and their friend Tommo see the weak and frail trying to escape certain death across the desert. They feel just as desperate, especially when Saba starts seeing ghosts and having delusions; her violent past and those she has killed are haunting her. They arrive at a river encampment just in time to get help from their shaman. And to get news of Jack, who's in trouble. Of course Saba will go back for him, but how will she explain her decision to Lugh?
Is it any good?
The title -- REBEL HEART, swoon -- and the beefcake cover may attract young adult readers, but they won't get exactly what they expect. They get better. Saba's not your average fantasy heroine. She doesn't wax poetic or whine over lost loves. Readers figured that out in Blood Red Road when she talked tough and cage-fought her way to victory. Now she's racing through the desert fighting ghosts, headhunters, and armed Tonton fanatics. Her brother, Lugh, is a thorn in her side (readers may wish he gets lost along the way even though it took a whole book to find him). But other characters make up for him, especially brave and wise little sister Emmi.
The word "destiny" gets tossed around a lot, but there are still only a few hints of what that means for Saba in book 3. That's okay, because the furious ride to the middle of the journey -- usually the low point in any trilogy -- keeps readers thoroughly engaged, and always guessing about that beefcake on the Rebel Heart's cover. Is Jack really Saba's heart's desire? Or is he the enemy now?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the grammar, spelling, and punctuation in Rebel Heart. No one's educated in this post-apocalyptic world, and the author uses language to reflect this. Do you think it works within the story or gets in the way? What other books alter language to fit the narrator's world?
A shaman and Saba's father speak of destiny and what's written in the stars. Do you think Saba is heading toward her destiny? Is everything all planned out for us? Why does this worry Saba?
Whom would you rather travel with -- Saba, who's heading to fight against the enemy, or Lugh, who wants to settle down someplace safe? What if you suspected that Lugh's safe haven would not remain that way forever?
- Author: Moira Young
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Misfits and underdogs, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires, Wild animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
- Publication date: October 30, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 432
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
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