Scarlet

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Scarlet
Author(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
February 14, 2012
ISBN
0802723462
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Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

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Overall rating 
 
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Scarlet

I probably/most likely/definitely never would have picked up Scarlet on my own. It really wasn’t a book I was interested in. However, my little sister is the leading YA epic fantasy/fatasy-esque historical fiction expert, so when she said Scarlet was good, I figured it was worth a try. And wooooo! you go lil’ sis!

It is very rare anymore that I’m completely in love with a book halfway through the first chapter. It’s also very rare that I get all swoony over the main character’s love interest, especially if I get swoony in the first chapter. By page 10, I knew I was going to love Scarlet.

The first thing I noticed (and eventually came to like) about this book was the style Gaughen writes in. It’s narrated in first person from Scarlet’s point of view, and let’s just say that Scarlet has some issues with her grammar. Normally, I would have hated it; I mean, the entire book is written “incorrectly.” But I actually think it worked. I got used to Scarlet’s “I were smiling at him” and “He were ‘bout to see my mug” diction. I fell into an easy rhythm and really worked.

By far, my favorite character type in any given novel is the melancholy antihero. Tall, dark and handsome, mysterious past, full of honorable intentions to atone for past mistakes. Well, in Scarlet, there are two of those characters. First, Robin Hood, a landless earl devoted to saving his people. And then Scarlet herself, who besides being a strong, brassy protagonist, is also a female antihero. Whoa. Sign me up! Feminist takes on a legend like Robin Hood are always welcome on my shelf.

Then there’s the romance, and, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I absolutely loved the love triangle. Yes, I said it. Robin Hood and Little John were two amazing guys, and I loved both of them to death. And the thing that made me not mind the love triangle was Scarlet herself—she never once flirted or led either of the two guys on. She wasn’t interested in romance, honestly. And because Scarlet was a “brother in arms”, Rob and John were never over the top in the ways they tried to make Scarlet notice them.

Yep, anyway, let’s just say that if I could have a Rob or a John, things would be great. It’s really reminiscent of back when I was 7 or 8 and only read middle grade historical fiction. You’d be surprised by the swoon-worthy men that populate that genre.

Aside from the swoon-worthiness, the plot for Scarlet was pretty good. There’s the typical Sheriff of Nottingham running around, taxing without representation, and then there’s this really creepy Gisbourne fellow who the Sheriff hires to search and destroy Robin Hood and his gang. Except Gisbourne has something to do with Scarlet’s secret past, and things get very juicy very fast.

I also really liked Gaughen’s “take” on the Robin Hood legends. Everything was still recognizable as the original story, but there were some changes, making things grittier and more true to life in a lot of cases. It was like The Adventures of Robin Hood but with a more serious atmosphere. Rob, for instance, wasn’t quite as jolly as his Eroll Flynn cousin, since he had the burden of his own secret past and a forbidden love for Scarlet.

And then there is the end. Oh boy. Gaughen is a genius with her end, I swear. She left things so open-ended, and while the swooning part of me wanted a bow-tied happily-ever-after ending, I think that the actual final scene is so much better. It’s definitely one I’m going to be thinking about and turning over for a few days.

You know, I stayed up all night trying to think of what I didn’t like about Scarlet, but I couldn’t think of a single thing. My little sister gets crazy mad applause for recommending this one.

Unique writing style and strong characters set A.C. Gaughen’s Scarlet apart from most YA novels. I was hooked in the story from the very beginning, and I was never disappointed the whole way through. Scarlet is an absolute must read on a historical fiction standpoint.

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MUST READ!!!

I'm a Robin Hood junkie and Scarlet definitely quenched my thirst for a good, intense Robin Hood novel. I didn't let go of the book until I was completely done. There was just so much excitement! Curiosity was eating me up.
The characters were incredibly awesome. Scar turned out to be someone you don't want to mess with. She ranks on my top ten best kick-butt characters ever. Sometimes she could be infuriating, completely stubborn, and irritating with all her secrets, but she made up for it in the end. I also enjoyed Scar's voice in the novel. She has this manner of speaking somewhat different from the norm, it's unique and very memorable. She fit the tough-girl spot perfectly.
Robin Hood was absolutely swoon worthy. He's fearless, but flawed in so many ways. Scar and him are perfect together. She acts tough, he acts tough, but inside they're both scarred and afraid. I understood why he got angry at Scar so much, her secrets could be overwhelming at times, but he seriously needed to work on his romantic approach. His timing was off by just a little bit.
Little John and the rest where interesting. I liked the new take on the legend, Gaughen gave it a nice tweak with the love triangle going on. And Little John's character was the perfect rival to Robin Hood's. While Robin Hood was responsible, confident, and distant, Little John was reckless, funny, and a womanizer.
I'll admit that I was a bit disappointed when the book finished. The ending was so abrupt and there probably won't be a sequel (At least not that I know of). Lots of things were left unattended to and some of my questions weren't entirely answered.
The plot was somewhat predictable and yet the ending surprised me. The pace is consistent throughout the book and then quickens near the end. I had no problems with anything in particular. The characters were well-developed and the plot was fascinating.
Overall, Scarlet was an enjoyable, fast-paced read. I highly recommend it to any other Robin Hood junkie out there. This is definitely one novel I will remember and want to reread.

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History Is Always Better When Rewritten with More Kickass Heroines

Scarlet is one of the books I have been completely desperate to read, since the moment I heard it was being published. A reenvisioning of a legend! A strong heroine! How could this fail? Well, in the past, a lot of the books I most wanted to read turned out to be really disappointing and awful. As a result, I held myself back, prepared myself to be disappointed.

Guess what? Scarlet totally was not disappointing. At all. I maintained my skepticism for a while, but Scarlet completely won me over. I had a lingering concern through most of the book, namely what exactly Gaughen was going to do with Maid Marian's character. Thankfully, what she did with the character was awesome.

What a fantastic way to retell the story of Robin Hood. Making one of the characters a girl changes so many dynamics, improves them in my opinion. Even better, Gaughen was able to make all of these changes without greatly altering the legend itself; it still fits within the parameters set by the accepted tale. That is seriously impressive. If I could, I would give Gaughen a high five.

Warming up to Scarlet took me some time too. At first, her dialect of English irritated me and she just was not that likable with her secrets and prickly-ness. As the book went on, I found myself loving the character more and more. The more I knew about her, the more I liked her, because Gaughen did such a fantastic job explaining why she were this way. Besides, in what world would I not respect a girl who's so strong and able to protect herself? In a time when women were not allowed rights or independence, she seized them in the only way she knew how.

The romance in Scarlet is amazing too, because Gaughen really made me wonder which guy would be better for Scar. Just like Scar wonders, although she also wonders if she wants a guy. Love triangles only work if the winner of the battle is not apparent. The romantic parts were really well-written, creating a sense of longing and a lack of confidence about the correct choice. They also weren't sappy, which is fantastic.

Most exciting is the fact that the door is wide open for a sequel. So far as I know there isn't one in the works, but one probably is. Just in case it isn't, I want to put my voice out here in the internet saying "Please write one, A. C. Gaughen! Please!"

Good Points
strong heroine
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LOVE

So, I'm not all that familiar with Robin Hood. I've watched a documentary about how he might've been real and what would've been the true story, but I never really researched or made myself familiar with the characters.

That was something I really appreciated about Scarlet. A.C. Gaughen didn't just assume we all knew the details, she explained things. We got to know the characters in a way that mixed the original tale (I learned a lot from reading the author's note at the end) and the story Gaughen was telling. I never felt like I was missing something and instead it made me want to read more retellings to see how others take on the story of Robin Hood.

I really loved Scarlet. She was a very independent, strong character. She knows how to defend herself, she goes out of her way to feed others, she's crafty and clever, she takes care of her boys. People try to jump in and protect her and she's not putting up with that crap. She's got her knives and her wits and that's all she needs.

There's also this darker tone to Scarlet. She's had a really crappy past and it haunts her throughout the story. Family issues and money issues and guy issues and eating disorders that they can't call an eating disorder because nobody called the that back then. I really appreciated seeing this kind of stuff because first of all, it's not really talked about in historical fiction. Sure the family, money, and guy issues, but eating disorders? The type of stuff Scarlet faced before the start of the novel? I rarely see it get that dark and I think it sends a message that girls are not alone in what we face now, that girls have been dealing with this kind of stuff for centuries and people want them to get better.

I really liked reading about the boys, Robin, John, and Much. John kind of bothered me in a way. He seemed more like a brother for Scarlet, but he didn't want to be and I didn't like how he would treat her at those moments. And Robin was extremely moody, which the author does touch on in the author's note, but I would've liked to see it toned down. I also wouldn't have minded more of Much. But overall, it was fun to see them interact and work together and face their problems as a team.

A.C. Gaughen wrote a really fast paced, addicting story. I read this in a day and it's an average sized book. I started reading in the car as we were running errands and I didn't want to put it down, I even almost started reading in the restaurant we went into for lunch. Then I just sat outside for an hour and read, wanting to know exactly how it would end. It was almost dark by time I finished and I didn't really care.

So, there you go. I really, really liked Scarlet, I want more Robin Hood retellings, and I'm definitely keeping an eye out for A.C. Gaughen's next book.

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