Red

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3.3 (2)
 
3.3 (2)
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Red
Author(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
October 08, 2013
ISBN
0385742932
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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?

Editor reviews

2 reviews

A Spunky Romp Through Scarletville
(Updated: October 13, 2013)
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
As a self-proclaimed Artie, I knew I had to read this story when it came out! What is an Artie? An Artie is someone who dyes her hair red or enhances the color.

What worked for me had to be how the author plays with stereotypes in such a way that it works. Also I loved the whole premise of having a town where Redheads rule. It's an interesting twist on discrimination against those who aren't Redhead such as Blondes. The nastiness isn't hidden much either. In this town even the adults reinforce the rule that only Redheads get ahead.

I also liked Felicity. It would have been so easy to make her vain and full of herself but she struggles with the knowledge that she's really a fraud as she'd been dying her hair since she could remember. She admits she likes the popularity that comes with being a Redhead and all that comes with it like the hot jock boyfriend. But there's times when she fears she'll be exposed for the truth. This works well in this storyline. I felt her struggles, fears, and confusion. I also like her one friend Ivy who is everything that Felicity isn't-she's not afraid to be who she is.

What I had issues with had to be the whole blackmail premise. I found it hard for Felicity to not do anything against her blackmailer for so long. Also the blackmailer reveal was kind of obvious. I think it would have been fun to expose someone that the reader didn't expect. And finally would Felicity really have a hard time with knowing that there were other towns where it was okay not to be a Redhead? But that's just me.

Also some of the stereotypes like the dumb jock kind of went over the top. I did like the other possible love interest that shows up right when Felicity starts to question everything she's been groomed for since childhood.

Overall, I enjoyed this funny and at times thought provoking story. The humor really works.

A spunky romp through Scarletville where Redheads rule. A twist on discrimination with a heroine who finds she's not a cookie cutter girl in a town filled with them.
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Ginger Domination
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
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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User reviews

2 reviews

Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
2.5  (2)
Characters 
 
4.5  (2)
Writing Style 
 
3.0  (2)
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Red by Alison Cherry
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
I receive my advance reader's copy for during birthday week, in which I was so excited to read this book. I always love free books :)

At first, It was hard for me to get into it and for that reason I give 3/5 starts, but the more pages I keep turning, the more I liked it. I love humor in the book. It's great to read a fun and quick contemporary book, after reading so many series.

Felicity is a fun protagonist. though my only remark would be the ending. I wish there we're a little more. I want to what happen to the other characters.

I most likely will read more of Alison cherry's book
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Bad as a satire but great as a “normal” novel
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
2.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Red initially sounded like a possibly dark mystery set in a strange town full of redheads, but it’s actually supposed to be a satire. Huh. Because I wanted to love this novel, I kept that in mind as I tore through this thoroughly engrossing read, but it ended up not working out that way. Red is entertaining and comes with a great cast of characters, but a good satire it is not.

Our strawbie (a strawberry blonde, though she dyes it) heroine Felicity is such a dynamic character. How she changes once her brunette classmate Gabby starts blackmailing her (it’s not a spoiler because she finds out so early on) is a wonderful transformation that helps her find what she really wants–which is not the pageant life her mother forced on her–and so much more. She carries the weight of the story easily on her shoulders, but she doesn’t even need to carry it alone because the other characters are just as strong.

Falicity’s two best friend Ivy and Haylie are mainly here mainly to act as symbols; Haylie embodies the typical redhead thinking in Scarletville while Ivy is a foil to that, though it bothers me Ivy never mentions or accepts the privilege she has as a redhead in Scarletville. Gabby = love and that’s that. Well, not really. She resorts to blackmail to institute some changes and that’s not great, but her reasons behind it once they’re revealed are really smart and she’s got all the sense of the novel. This is a ladies’ book, definitely. They rule it all! But the romance Felicity has with brown-haired artist Jonathan? Adorable friendship-turned romance deal.

But now to the unfortunately weak satire elements. First off, the use of hair color to represent racial-ethnic identities is an absolute no and kind of offensive. Hair color is so much more fluid–a blonde can go black-haired easily–and racial-ethnic identities are so not–because an Asian woman, for instance, can’t make herself white no matter what she does–that the metaphor quickly falls apart, taking the satire and the already-difficult-to-believe-in setting with it. Satires grounded in believable places work better.

The closest it gets to satire are the pageant elements, but those are very weak too. Satire, in a nutshell, will take the normal, emphasize it to absurdity with one technique or another, and present that absurdity as normal. The absurdity of pageant life as presented here is normal both in this book and in real life. Nothing Felicity’s mom puts her through for the pageant is anything I haven’t seen or heard already as normal in that area, so if this were satire, that would mean Toddlers and Tiaras is satire too. Sadly, it’s not.

Though it falls apart as a satire after just a few chapters, reading it as a “normal” novel once those elements wear off gives you something deeply entertaining. I’m definitely on board for Cherry’s next novel, due out sometime in 2014. With characters and writing as strong as this, I’d have to be a fool to miss out because of a horrid metaphor!
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