Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: Red by Alison Cherry

Review: Red by Alison Cherry
Release date: October 8th, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte
Series: No
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.



  1. Uh yeah I think I'll pass on this one. On the positive side YAY for the HP gifs :)

  2. You had issues with the setting too, Gillan (I very nearly called you Gills)? So glad I wasn't the only one! The key to making a satire work for me is a setting that's believable. It's the problems the satire is messing with that need to be completely ridiculous, not the setting. That's why I like Oliver Twist and Vile Bodies as satires: they've both got very realistic settings, but the characters are taking the problems of the time and turning the dial up to eleven so we see what is so screwed up.

    liked Felicity a little more than you did, though. ;) I'm totally sticking around for whatever novel she has coming up next. Great review, girl. Had I not loved Ivy, Gabby, and Felicity like I did, I'd be saying all the same stuff.

  3. Ugh, I was really really looking forward to this but it sounds like I'll end up having the same issues. Have you read any of the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett? That man is the master of hilarious satire.

  4. I've been really looking forward to this book so I'm sad it didn't work out for you! I didn't know it was a satire but I don't think I'd find this very enjoyable. Satires are very hard to write and I just haven't been having a good run with them lately. I doubt this book would change the pattern! I do tend to like my satires to be subtle and not over-the-top and this sounds rather...out there.

  5. This book sounds a bit disastrous. I liked the idea of it, but now I'll probably pass on it. There needs to be more satire in YA. I don't think I've read any intentional satire...

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  6. Sorry this one didn't work out for you! After reading the description I believe you that it really should be a satire, otherwise it just doesn't make sense. So that's weird that the book made it seem realistic, because well that's just wrong. Also a boring protagonist? I'm going to pass on this one. Thanks for the review!

  7. Yeah, I didn't want to pick this book up before I read your review and I darn sure won't pick it up now. I kept thinking to myself "how could your mother shun you? It's not like you've been dying your hair since birth! I'm pretty sure it wouldn't come as a big shock or revelation to her." O_o

  8. I had my doubts about this book cause it sounded that if done right it'd be fantastic but if not... and it seems that it's a case of the if not's... I will be skipping this one I'm afraid!
    On the bright side... Gingers! Weasleys! =D

  9. Thanks to you, I now have a new saying- I don't give a flying fruitcake. Where has that one been all my life? Lol! Too bad about Red, I thought it sounded great too. =/

  10. Ahhhhhhhh this is so disappointing. I had high hopes for this but I know we have super similar tastes so I will probably just wait until my library gets it. And I have to agree with Octavia on the thing about her mom in the synopsis...that part made no sense to me lol.

  11. This book sounds like it failed! Failed I say. I hate when books with huge potential fail. It's a bummer that you had to go through with something that just didn't work, but luckily I know not to now, so thanks for that!

  12. Awwww nooooooo. I'm reading this one soon, and I surely hope I have different feelings on it (you and I do tend to have different opinions in terms of YA, so we shall see). I do appreciate your honesty, and I kind of love the part where you said you "don't give a flying fruitcake about Felicity" because I've never heard that phrase before hahah. We're so going to have to discuss this once I've read it.

  13. Wow, I already didn't really want to read this one but now I'm SURE I don't want to try. Plus, Giselle just DNF'ed it so I'm just...backing away slowly. The author really should have done a much better job at nailing a satirical tone. Ewww. :(

  14. "HOW DARE YOU. I totally have maroon hair naturally." - said no one.

    Me too. This is part of why I stopped doing Waiting on Wednesday and those "most excited for" TTTs, because, inevitably, every book I put on those lists ends up being somewhere from shit to ehhhhh.

    Why is this not witty? Cherry is so funny on her blog and I just don't know where all of that went. And why is there no realization that judging people by hair color is bad? WHY?

    Ditto with not writing her off but waiting for reviews.


  15. Uggh, this book. Your review for it is SIRIUSLY perfect. (Not really relevant, but then again, HP puns are always relevant. Always.)

    Major lulz at the maroon hair. I don't know what the cover designers were thinking. That does NOT like something that didn't come out of a bottle. Of the three, only the one on the right seems to be a natural redhead. God, and the whole thing in the story where Felicity's hair was supposedly the reddest and healthiest-looking of the entire town? Implausible. Artificial red seriously messes with your hair, especially if you dye it as frequently as she does. I could have bought it if she used henna to dye her hair, because that actually nourishes and strengthens hair while also giving it colour, but chemical dyes? Nope. Also, red washes out pretty quickly so absolutely NO WAY her hair was the reddest. Just no.

    Oh look, my HP intro does have some relevance. Yeah, Felicity must have been sheltered as hell. I also don't get why the non-redheads didn't just move away. It is one town. One small town in the entirety of the US. Let these awful redheads be awful with one another and create more awful babies until they die or finally realise their stupidity. I wouldn't want any kind of approval from these twits.

    Side note: the Weasley twins would be discriminated against in this world. They probably count as strawbies rather than reds. This alone should tell you how awful this town is. MOVE AWAY BRUNETTES. RUN.

    The romance was so half-assed I don't understand why it was there in the first place. (There's a lot about this book I don't understand in general.) If Ivy had been the main character, this probably would have read as a satire. I hated her other friend. The tiny one. Whatsherface. The ending was ridiculous. I think that's what bothers me most. Felicity doesn't address the injustice of the Scarletville system. She only addresses the parts that affect her personally. This is another point where it failed to be satire. Whomp whomp.


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