May 10, 2011

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce: Review

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Kelly from The Written World and I read Sisters Red together as a buddy read last month. We had a good ole chin wag about the book and "the controversy" (see below). Sisters Red is a retelling of the Red Riding Hood tale by Jackson Pearce. While the story is a modern take with sisters battling wolves, Pearce stayed true to some of the aspects of the story.
Here's the first part of our conversation. You can find the rest on The Written World.
Chris: Overall I thought it was a well done modern retelling. I did have a few issues but I’ll get into those as we go. I like how she tried to touch all the elements of the original story: Grandmother, the wolf coming to the house, the red cape, the woodsman, even the axe. Interesting how she chose 2 red riding hoods.

Kelly: I agree! I also enjoyed how she worked in other fairy tale elements, like the use of seven. It is also not your typical werewolf story. By making it a retelling and tweaking the wolf idea, I found she created an original story to a degree. Some of the elements were similar to very popular trends in young adult fantasy at the moment, but she did try and create a fresh story. Well, a fresh retelling.

Chris: I thought I’d throw that link to the Book Smugglers in here so we all know what we’re referring to when we talk about the ‘controversy’: The Book Smugglers and Bitch Media.


I did agree with a few things in their review but it didn’t bother me enough to not allow me to enjoy it. I did find Scarlett tiresome at times. She was a bit of a nag. I also didn’t like how she perceived other girls as “stupid” or “ignorant.” That’s hardly their fault. I had to wonder at why it was just 3 young people battling the wolves. I could have understood it better if they had been part of a secret society or something along that line.

Kelly: I have to admit that I had a few issues with the overall book. I wanted to love it, but a few things gave me pause. Scarlett has had a rough life, she is angry, and she takes her anger out on others. So, when she says the comments about other girls, I just assumed it was because she was jealous. I mean, she is scarred and they are young, pretty, and guys flock to them. That will never happen to her. When she was very young her life took an entirely different path. I don’t look at that as it being said the victims bring it on themselves. I look at that as Scarlett is pissed off with her life. That being said, Silas, the male character, agreed with her and said that he was glad that Scarlett and Rosie weren’t like that. See, THAT bothered me. It is one thing for Scarlett to say things because you can accept that she is a bit angry, but I wish that they had just left it for her.

Chris: I agree, it was totally within Scarlett’s character to think that way, being scarred and angry. But Silas is such an easy going guy, it seem very out of character for him to say that. It bothered me too. I also didn’t understand why Scarlett would be so gung-ho to protect those girls that she didn’t respect. Why try so hard? Was it just revenge?

Maybe Pearce was trying to incorporate the part of the mythology about female sexuality (that red cape!) into the story by making the victims pretty and flirty but I think she could have went about it from a different angle. I never fully understood why it was just pretty young girls that were victims, seems like the defenceless homeless would have made easy pickings.

Kelly: I know. I didn’t get the Silas thing at all. He was so easy-going about most things, so it was strange she had him thinking so negatively about that one topic. That’s another thing that I thought about. If Scarlett hates these girls so much, why worry about protecting them? I guess that even though she was angry and jealous, there was still a heart in there worrying about other people becoming like her. It’s really hard to say based on the available facts.

I understood that the young were targets because of their smell and colourful appearance. Those are the methods that Scarlett and Rosie use to attract their attention after all. And, I suppose they liked a bit of a challenge. They liked luring the girls in and getting a bit of trust before attacking and the homeless was too easy? It doesn’t make it right, but it sort of gives some understanding to the whys.

What did you think of the portrayal of the wolves themselves?

Chris: I didn’t really see them as “wolfy” more monsterish. (I know those aren’t real words spellcheck but that’s what I think.) I couldn’t get a grasp of their numbers. Sometimes I thought there were 100s but in the final battle it was about a dozen (?). I liked how Pearce turned the story around to the girls saving the guy. That, I thought, was a modernizing I could get behind. I did think she sacrificed realism for the elements of the story. Like the red capes, that was a bit bizarre- maybe if they had brilliant red hair instead. And who says ‘woodsman’ anymore?


6 comments :

  1. I'm not big on fairy tale retellings, but my sister is, so I'm going to tell her about this book.

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  2. Very interesting conversation. I'm hoping to read this later this year and I think that even if I don't enjoy it it will give me a lot to think about.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading your conversation about the book. I haven't read many fairytale retellings, but this one sounds interesting.

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  4. Great convo! I love fairytale retellings and on a completely shallow level, I adore this cover.

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  5. Kathy- Hope she likes it.

    Nymeth- It really does.

    Col- Neither have I, this might be my first.

    Andi- It is a striking cover.

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  6. It was fun reading and reviewing this together. :)

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