Thursday, October 17, 2013
Review: Red by Alison Cherry
Review: Red by Alison Cherry
Release date: October 8th, 2013
Source: gift from Christina
Rating: A blah and frustrating read that sadly doesn't succeed as a satire.
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?
The cover: I mean, her hair already looks fake on the cover. Who has maroon hair, I ask you?
The story: This is going to be a very un-fun review to write. I've been looking forward to this book fro a long time, and had it on a lot of my Most Anticipated Reads of 2013 lists. I love a good satire, and sadly, this is nothing like a good satire. It's not to say this is a complete waste of 300 pages, but when you go for something so high concept like this, it's all in the execution, and that's where Cherry falls flat.
It's the tone. For a satire, it needs to be sharp and witty or so broad and over the top. But Cherry (unintentionally, I suspect) went for realistic, which just makes you ask all the questions you shouldn't, such as: how is this place real? Why isn't the news all over this racist, prejudiced redhead colony where they actively shun and discriminate against brunette people? Why does Felicity not understand that there are a million salons in the world where she can get her hair died? How can you be this stupid, Felicity, how?
Because Cherry doesn't tell the story with the right tone, it doesn't read as a satire, and it all falls apart. It's just a frustrating experience, because none of it works. I was excepting a quirky, bitingly funny, quirky, over the top satire that pokes fun of elitism and prejudice. Cherry came up with a brilliant idea, because how silly is judging people based on hair color? That kind of absurd central idea is the stuff great satires are born of. But because the book is so serious and has to do so much with Felicity's serious emotions, none of it works at all. Because you don't buy it as a satire, all the redhead prejudice just comes across as racism, Felicity's horrific mother comes across as... well, horrific, and Scarletville seems more like a haven for sociopaths than redheads.
Also: Felicity. What a drag of a protagonist. She's weak-willed and, worst of all, she's BORING. SO HORRIBLY BORING. Get a backbone, girl! The only characters of any merit are Jonathan, the adorable if under-developed love interest, and Ivy, the kick-ass best friend who is the only redeeming quality in Red. Seriously, can Ivy be the main character? Did she suck all the personality out of everybody else, or something?
The ending is so unresolved. I blinked at the final page in confusion. It sort of felt like I'd been reading most of this for nothing. I was expecting more significant ramifications because of the Big Finale, outside of how it affects Felicity's life, especially since I don't really give a flying fruitcake about Felicity. I mean, Felicity showed one moment of backbone, but doesn't give much indication that she'll continue to have one. Also, the girl blackmailing her could have gone a bit further, just to up the satire-ness of it all.
Blegh. I don't even know what else to say. This book was a fail. Red thinks that it's tackling so many issues in a clever and funny way, but it's not. It thinks it's thought-provoking, but it's not. It's sad, because I know Alison Cherry can really write. I'll be curious about her next book, but I'll definitely read the reviews first.