I received this book for free from Quercus in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Red by Alison Cherry
Published by Quercus on January 2nd 2014
Top student. Beauty queen. Girlfriend of the hottest football jock. Felicity's got everything. And it's all down to her red, red hair. Felicity lives in Scarletville, the world's only redhead sanctuary, where red hair is celebrated, protected - and the key to success. But Felicity has a secret. A red hot secret. And if anyone finds out, she's finished. Because Felicity's actually a natural blonde. And in Scarletville, blondes need not apply.
Review: Red for me was a strange read. On one hand it reminded me of Drop Dead Gorgeous and there was a strong satirical and humorous feel to the novel with a slight Mean Girls edge. However the central concept of someone dying their hair to fit in with the rest and playing a ‘redhead’ along with the town of Scarletville had some difficult implications. When I was at university, one of the books I studied was about post apartheid life in South Africa and involved a couple able to pass as white during the apartheid, so obviously there were some clear parallels here for me as I read.
Red obviously has a message about tolerance and discrimination and looks at these issues through a more satirical lens. However some parts were so over the top it detracted from the key point of the novel for me and didn’t always feel successful. For example, the chapter when they go outside of Scarlettville just didn’t work for me as they were so naïve it felt unbelievable. Even though the intent was clearly to look at stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination, the concept of prejudicing those without red hair sometimes felt a little too frivolous and while this was the point and demonstrated how arbitrary and ridiculous judging someone on their appearance alone is, with the real life history and parallels I sometimes felt it didn’t quite work.
A few of twists towards the end and the blackmail plot didn’t entirely work for me or convince me. The implications and parallels in the real world about discrimination and prejudice also didn’t always sit comfortably for me in such a seemingly superficially lighthearted novel . While Cherry was using this to address greater points on discrimination and prejudice, I just didn’t always feel it worked for me in this quite quirky delivery. However, I do think this might be an interesting gateway to get readers thinking about and discussing important topics including prejudice and popularity/social status.
With all of that said, I thought the romance was quite engaging and overall it was an addictive read which I read in just one sitting. While Red did not always work for me, I would probably read Alison Cherry’s next novel as I enjoyed a lot of her writing style, however I am not sure I want to return to the land of Red.