Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: Red (Alison Cherry)

Title: Red
Series: standalone
Author: Alison Cherry
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Told: Third Person Singular (Felicity), Past Tense
Content Rating: Older Teen (sensuality, some language)
Format Read: ARC (EpicLibrarian)
Find It On: Goodreads

Felicity St. John has it all—loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.

Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:

I know your secret.

Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say "strawberry blond." Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.

Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?

*          *          *

Three Words: Selfish pity party.

Writing: An easy read, which was good because I never would've been able to finish it otherwise.

Setting: A town where redheads are revered and rule. Relatively easy to accept for the most part, but it could be unbelievable at times - a secret hair salon on a secret top floor with secret elevators? No way the mayor couldn't find it through the necessary permits alone.

Story: To protect her secret as an "artie" (an artificial redhead), Felicity succumbs to blackmail and performs uncharacteristic acts to make her mother's dream come true. (Not her dream, but her mother's dream, aka winning the coveted Miss Scarlet crown.) In the process of finally fulfilling the dream, Felicity discovers what she really wants out of life, and struggles to obtain it. It was a very plain and simple plot.

Story Morals: I'm never one to notice the moral of a book, but this had two that were impossible to miss. They were (1) Never judge a book by its cover, and (2) Be yourself. With never judge a book by its cover (or in this instance, never judge a person by the color of their hair), instead of showing not to do it, Red was a cautionary tale of what happens when you do. There were two "sides" in this story - the redheads, and the others. On the redhead side was Felicity, willing to follow the redhead way of things to maintain her popularity, and on the other side was a blackmailing brunette. Both judged each other based on the preconceptions of their "side" - redheads: all other hair colors are beneath them and are completely jealous of them; others: redheads live perfect and happier lives because they take the happiness from the others. With both sides wearing these blinders, there was no side worth rooting for. Both Felicity and the blackmailer acted selfishly without a single fleeting thought to the other girl's feelings, and when they could have actually communicated about it (and realistically so) the story wouldn't let them (I look to the highly unrealistic Closet Scene).

As for "be yourself," Felicity eventually demonstrated that it's okay to do it - even if it means your actions will cause trouble and grief to innocent bystanders. When she finally grew a backbone and decided to "be herself," she wasn't about to let anyone or anything get in her way, and was willing to ruin the lives of innocent people to get what she wanted. I found her ignorance and selfishness rather reprehensible, and refused to root for her. Since this only left me with options just as bad as her, it made for a rather pointless read. Also, by being herself, she almost completely ruined her life, the lives of her family, and a pageant that several girls (and the entire town) were looking forward to. Apparently the self she discovered was a selfish and self-centered brat.

Characters: Felicity was weak-willed and a whiner. She let her mother, and then her blackmailer, tell her what to do despite what she wanted to do, and then complained about how she couldn't be herself. She had every opportunity, but she was so afraid of what others would think of her and was terrified of losing her popularity. She did eventually start being herself, but she went about it completely the wrong way, not caring what her actions would do to others. She felt this urgency to "get it done" before the pageant ended, where if she'd simply waited until after the pageant, the consequences wouldn't have been so severe. Every bold action she took hurt someone else, usually an innocent, and I simply couldn't root for her when all she cared about was making her life better, even at the expense of others.

As for the rest of the cast, I adored her best friend Ivy, she of red hair but fierce individuality. Haylie...let's just say I wasn't surprised at the ending. Felicity's mother, Ginger, was one of those horrid pageant moms to the sixteenth power, and I hated her with a passion. Jonathan was the book's only redeeming grace, a sweet and kind boy that Felicity most definitely didn't deserve. Maybe in widening her world he'll also show her that it doesn't consist of just her - one can always hope.

Series: This book is a standalone. (Thank goodness.)

Conclusion: Centered around a whiny and selfish main character, I personally found Red rather a torture to read. I wouldn't have even finished it if not for the author, who is a sweetheart on Twitter. I must admit that I've never been much for straight Contemporary, so perhaps this simply wasn't my kind of read.

Scribble Rating
1 of 5 Scribbles

1 comment:

  1. I liked your review! Even though I don't read books like this much anymore, it's cool to read the views of others on them still.