Book Reviews

Review: Dustborn by Erin Bowman

Dustborn was described to me as “Mad Max Fury Road” meets a postapocalyptic Western and I was like, “YES!” That is the vibe I am looking for recently. It’s been so long since I read a fantastic YA SF setting so I was looking forward to Dustborn. Keep reading this book review to find out if I found exactly that!


Delta of Dead River has always been told to hide her back, where a map is branded on her skin to a rumored paradise called the Verdant. In a wasteland plagued by dust squalls, geomagnetic storms, and solar flares, many would kill for it—even if no one can read it. So when raiders sent by a man known as the General attack her village, Delta suspects he is searching for her. 

Delta sets out to rescue her family but quickly learns that in the Wastes no one can be trusted—perhaps not even her childhood friend, Asher, who has been missing for nearly a decade. If Delta can trust Asher, she just might decode the map and trade evidence of the Verdant to the General for her family. What Delta doesn’t count on is what waits at the Verdant: a long-forgotten secret that will shake the foundation of her entire world.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

I adored the setting of Dustborn from the beginning. The postapocalyptic “Mad Max Fury Road” feeling was established from the first pages. Dustborn is, unsurprisingly, a story about dust, but also desperation. It’s a world where water and survival aren’t guaranteed. A world where I would not last one day. Well, I hope I’d rise to the challenge, but maybe not because I have contact lenses….ANYWAY, Dustborn is a story about survival, resourcefulness, and community. At the same time it’s a story about hope, promise, and ethics.

Dustborn features Delta, a girl who is just trying to be reunited with her community, despie the harsh conditions of the world and humanity. She is clever and resourceful, while making decisions we may not agree with at the time. Delta is a character driven by her sense of community, even when it might be better for her to move on. Dustborn is a testament to the power of memory, promises, and trust. Desperation tends to leave half baked plans in a world where trust has its costs and you can never be too careful.


While I greatly enjoyed the setting, and Delta’s character, my main issue was the pacing. I felt like I was enjoying the pacing, and then towards the end so many things happened that I was just stunned. I felt like there had to be more somewhere and wish this had been a duology so we could have had more time to explore the interesting twists. I loved some of the revelations towards the end, but just needed a bit more time for Delta and the world to dwell.


Dustborn delivers on a promise of a fabulous SF setting. It’s an action based book that examines how softness can expose your soft spots. How it ends with salt and spears. It’s a book that left me with lingering questions that I need to talk to someone about! Find Dustborn on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


Do you have a favorite postapocalyptic (YA) book?

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2 thoughts on “Review: Dustborn by Erin Bowman

  1. I’m super excited for this one! I love Erin Bowman. That’s interesting about the pacing because I know Bowman had originally planned for this to be either a trilogy or duology (I don’t remember which) but it was bought as a standalone so she had to condense it down to fit into one book. I wonder if that’s why the end feels so rushed.

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