Author: Moira Young
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Publication Date: October 30, 2012
Series: Dust Lands #2
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.
What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads of danger and destiny, betrayal and passion.
Rebel Heart begins with Jack's POV. I am a Jack fan, so this had me pretty giddy. But, alas, there will be no more narrative from Jack for the rest of the story. In fact, there's not all that much Jack in it aside from a brief stint in the middle somewhere and then a good bit of him near the end. But he is always on Saba's mind. And Emmi's. And, apparently, Nero's. So enjoy him when you can. The scenes that include him are totally worth it.
Saba is going through some Stuff in this installment. She's haunted by her guilt over events in the past. She has nightmares. She wonders if she's losing her ever-loving mind. She begins to question Jack's feelings for her, wonders if he won't come back to her, wonders if he is who she thought he was and if she can even trust him at all. She's the same flawed Saba from the first book, though in many ways she has also grown. Saba has a new closeness with Emmi, and Lugh is not the same brother that she remembers - in fact he's a big fat jerk face, presumably because he is dealing with some Stuff of his own.
It has been several months since the events of Blood Red Road came to a close, and Tommo has grown. He's more capable than he previously was. He has latched onto Lugh as the only male around that can provide him with any sort of a role model. (This seriously might be the suckiest thing about Jack being away.) He fights and offers advice and is protective of Saba. Tommo is something that I've wondered about in this book, because I could have sworn that he was very young in BRR. For some reason, I had him pegged as being around twelve years old, but at this point in time he seems to be closer to around fifteen. So I guess he was more like fourteen in the first book? (If anyone knows the answer to this or can find the passage in BRR where they speculate as to Tommo's age, I'd love it if you left that information in the comments.) Either way, Tommo grew on me a lot over the course of the story. He stepped out of the background and his depth as a character multiplied. His disability doesn't hinder him much, though there are times that he was obviously frustrated by the idea of being judged for it. He is one of the characters that I am most looking forward to seeing explored in the next book, because of his new complexity and the fact that he is at times misguided and has the potential to take a dark turn or suffer some tragic fate. I hope that he will be triumphant and find a better option for himself, because I really like where Young is taking his character so far.
The plot starts off a little slowly, as Saba is dealing with her guilt, fears, and questions, and her party is still making their way west. Once they encounter other people, though, the pacing picks up significantly. Saba sets out on a mission and joins up with friends old and new. There are times when I became frustrated and angry at Saba and some of her decisions, but she wouldn't be Saba if she wasn't making mistakes. The stuff that happens toward the end has me excited for the third book.
I'm not sure that I like this one as much as I do the first, but I do really like it. Tommo's character arc grabbed my attention and he quickly rose to become one of my favorite characters. I am curious to see how he continues to develop. Rebel Heart has more of the dystopia elements than Blood Red Road. The ending is explosive, and I am very much looking forward to the next Dust Lands installment.