Review Detail

3.3 2
Young Adult Fiction 3753
Ginger Domination
Overall rating
Writing Style
What I Liked:
Red takes place in the fictional town of Scarletville, Iowa, the National Redhead Sanctuary. Turns out that redheads are diminishing, as the gene for that hair color is recessive, so this town has been established for redheads to live together away from the ginger slurs of other places. In Scarletville, redheads are the top of the food chain, brunettes and blondes unrespected and strange.

Alison Cherry uses this light satire to highlight the ridiculousness of judging people solely off of a physical characteristic. Just like our society highly prizes blue eyes (look at any American television show and note how many actors have blue eyes) or pale-skinned individuals were believed higher class in the past, in Scarletville, people with red hair are considered a cut above. When put in this context, the whole idea is highly absurd, which is precisely the point. A person’s exterior doesn’t indicate the personality or intelligence within.

Premise aside, Red is a straight-forward contemporary novel that deals with friendship, learning to love yourself, and beauty competitions. Secretly a strawbie (strawberry blonde), Felicity St. John’s hair has been dyed to a proper red since she was two. Her mother, Ginger, is truly horrific, and the reason that Felicity has such low self-esteem she would rather be blackmailed than have people discover her true hair color. Plus, the family’s short on funds and Ginger chooses to put money into dresses and costumes for the beauty pageant, even though she has two other kids to take care of aside from Felicity. Way to teach the kids fiscal responsibility! Though I will admit that I loved the dress shopping scenes. How much do I want to go to the store where Ivy got her dress? SO MUCH.

The best part of Red was definitely the interpersonal relationships. I especially loved Ivy, who is the best character in my opinion. Ivy doesn’t buy into any of the town’s nonsense. She goes to prom in a suit, rather than a dress, refuses to wear heels in the pageant (which someone else signed her up for) because she doesn’t believe in pointless pain, and is totally logical. Also, props to Cherry for giving Ivy a boy and not making her the single tomboy. The love interest, Jonathan, is also really great, very much not the stereotypical bossy guy of YA. Also, he took her to Fry Me to the Moon, a restaurant serving every kind of french fry with dipping sauces, which I want to go to very badly.

What Left Me Wanting More:
Unfortunately, I never really bonded with Felicity, and, though she learned a little bit, it didn’t feel like a massive change. She’s so driven by what’s on the surface. Plus, the fact that she wouldn’t even trust her best friends with her secrets was pretty sad. They’ve done nothing to make her think they’re untrustworthy. I just never found Felicity to be particularly likable or interesting.

More problematic is that I’m not entirely sure what the point was. I’m running with Red as a satire because nothing else makes sense, but I don’t really think it was over the top enough for that. Also, the fact that the book promptly ends, rather than showing whether Scarletville learned anything was another drawback. Where Red hadn’t spent too much time on the romance, we’re suddenly fading out into an HEA, without getting any of the fallout from the climax.

The Final Verdict:
Though the satirical element could have been more strongly and effectively played up, I think Red will be a hit with readers who love beauty pageants and/or light contemporaries.
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