Check back tomorrow for a guest post from Alison Cherry in which she discusses the research she did for the book. For now, read on to see my thoughts on Red!
Red by Alison Cherry
Author: Alison Cherry Website|Twitter
Published: 2 January 2014 (Quercus)
Buy the paperback: Amazon|Hive|BookDepository
Buy the e-book: Kindle|Kobo
Source: Received free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks Quercus!
Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
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 sucess.
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.
I have always wanted to be a redhead (pretty much for the same reason I have always wanted to be a twin - I loved the Linsday Lohan version of Parent Trap as a kid) so I was super excited to start Red by Alison Cherry. The book tells the story of Felicity St John who is entering the Miss Scarlet pageant, fearful of her secret - that her glorious red locks are actually dyed - will get discovered.
To start with, I just adored the whole premise of Red. Felicity lives in Scarletville, a town known as a sanctuary for redheads. People with red hair are celebrated with annual fairs and pageants. In Scarletville your hair also affects your social standing. Brunettes and blondes are looked down upon, with people who dye their hair like Felicity known as "arties". It was just such a fun twist on how we view red hair and I really loved seeing all the divisions it has caused and how that affects the society Felicity is living in. There was a little glimpse of life outside Scarletville, where attitudes are completely different, and I definitely would have like to see more of that - or more to the point I would loved to have seen Felicity experience more of the outside world. But I think the added nature of it being such a secluded place and her not having seen the world was what helped it work as an idea.
Felicity herself is a pretty great character, and I wasn't expecting to like her as much as I did. Maybe I was expecting her to be a typical popular girl, prom queen type who are always portrayed as a bit bitchy, but there was a really nice side to Felicity. She's living in the shadow of her mother who was a former Miss Scarlet herself, and who piles all this pressure on her daughter to follow in her footsteps. Felicity's mother was definitely the bad guy, where as Felicity's actions stem from that fear of her secret being discovered or not pleasing her mum. Even though she has to be forced into a lot of the nice things she does, I could still tell there was a lot of genuine heart in there. I loved Felicity's passion for art too which is where she really gets to express herself.
As well as Felicity, the rest of the characters in Red were a real highlight for me. Felicity and her two best friends Ivy and Haylie form this fantastic trio. All the girls are pretty different and the way they bounce off each other was so funny. Their friendship goes through some ups and downs throughout the book with the trust between them tested, and it said a lot that I was so invested in what happened between the girls. I particularly fell for Ivy who seemed to be the most level headed one of the three and is the anti-pageant contestant, which made a lovely contrast to Felicity and Haylie who are immersed in that world.
My absolute favourite character, however, had to be Jonathan. A brunette and fellow art student, he is the sweetest guy. I loved the scenes with the two of them and how Jonathan came out on top every time Felicity's tool of a boyfriend Brent came on the scene. I was rooting for Felicity and Jonathan the whole way through the book. There were some scenes where Felicity and Brent were together that I wasn't so keen on, just because I didn't like the way she was so desperate to keep him on side (Brent being a red head and popular) and how one minute she'd be moaning about how annoying he was, and the next minute she was all over him like a rash.
Red had pretty much everything I want from an American high school novel. It had romance, blackmail and plenty of drama! I adored the writing and the characters were fantastic. I thought the plot had some great twists and I loved all the moral dilemmas Felicity had to face and overcome. For a book about a beauty pageant, it was anything but shallow. I thought the focus on peer pressure and stereotypes was brilliantly done and how deep down the book really captured the idea of following your dreams, not being put into a box by other people.
Books like this: Revenge of the Homecoming Queen by Stephanie Hale, How to be Popular by Meg Cabot