Dustborn by Erin Bowman – Spoiler Free Review

Happy Thursday everyone! And happy first day of April. Anyone planning a good April Fool’s joke? I am very gullible, so every year I fall for at least one prank, lol. Anyway, I finished Dustborn two days ago, so here is my review!

I got Dustborn via NetGalley a while ago. I didn’t know anything about the book, or the author, but I really liked the cover so I decided to check it out. Though I have to say that I initially had trouble placing this book in a genre. It started out like YA fantasy, but by the end I had to firmly place it into science fiction. Possibly dystopian? I probably could’ve looked that up before reading it lol. Anyway, now you know too!Dustborn

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Dustborn Book Cover


By Erin Bowman

My Rating: ★★★.5☆
Published 20 April 2021 by HMH Books for Youg Readers
Dystopian | Young Adult | Apocalyptic
Delta of Dead River sets out to rescue her family from a ruthless dictator rising to power in the Wastes and discovers a secret that will reshape her world in this postapocalyptic Western mashup for fans of Mad Max and Gunslinger Girl.

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.

What I Liked

This book is very fast paced, which is great since it’s a standalone. The world isn’t very complicated, so not too many pages were dedicated to world building. The blurb basically says it all: Delta and the rest of humanity live in a desert-like world that is plagued by all kinds of geomagnetic storms and dust squalls. There is hardly enough water for everyone, and you can imagine that crops aren’t plentiful either. There is no central government; everyone lives with their own pack, and no one really travels because the chances of survival are very slim. I did love this world, because it’s very harrowing. Bowman really doesn’t beat around the bush with how harsh this world is to live in, and I really liked that.

The plot was very interesting, too. There is an air of mystery to this story, and you want to find out more about the Verdant, and about the General. I really had no idea where the story would go, which to me is great, because that makes it unpredictable. There are some slight twists in the story that I didn’t even consider a possibility, so that was a lot of fun.

Dustborn cover image

What I Liked Less

Even though this was a fun and fast read, I do think that some aspects of the book were a little underdeveloped. The characters, for instance. The whole story is told from Delta’s perspective, so we don’t get the chance to know the other characters as well. I liked the characters, but they fell a little flat for me. In my opinion there wasn’t enough emotional development, so in the end I wasn’t really attached to any of them. I did like Delta’s character development, though. She went from being incredibly harsh to… well, she’s still harsh, but also a lot nicer.

There is one more thing I want to talk about, but it’s a slight spoiler, so only click below if you’ve already read the book or just really want to know what I have to say.

And that’s it! Overall, Dustborn was a fun read that had lots of positives. But I really wish that the characters had been developed more. However, if you like dystopian novels but want to get away from the “evil government” trope, this is your book!

Find more reviews in my archives!


  1. April 1, 2021 / 3:43 pm

    I’m excited for this one! I love Erin Bowman’s books and this one is right up my alley. I know that she wanted this to be a duology but it only sold as a standalone so she had to condense it down to 1 book. I wonder if that has anything to do with lack of some development.

    • simonevanheijst
      April 1, 2021 / 8:28 pm

      Oh wow I didn’t know that, thanks for informing me! That definitely would explain it I think. It was a really enjoyable story, but I could tell that it could’ve had more content. Either way, I hope you enjoy it!?

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