Friday, May 31, 2019

The Girl in Red

The Girl in Red. Christina Henry. 2019. Penguin Random House. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The fellow across the fire gave Red the once-over, from the wild corkscrews of her hair peeking out from under her red hood to the small hand axe that rested on the ground beside her.

Premise/plot: The Girl in Red is a postapocalyptic retelling of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. Our heroine, Red, may wear a red hood and be going to Grandma's house, BUT, she also bears a striking resemblance to the woodcutter/hunter. I would recommend this to those that enjoy sci-fi thrillers.

Life as she knew it has come to an end...and it all starts with a cough. Its a highly contagious, near-always fatal disease. Though some seem to be immune to it. The few that are left have seemed to lost their minds...gone savage or lawless.

When we first meet Red, she is on her own. Readers learn slowly about her family and how she came to be alone. As for Red, she has taken to the woods for her own safety. She hopes to make her way to Grandma's house--since apparently her Grandma lives in a secluded, off-grid place. But it won't be an easy journey. Every day will be a struggle.

My thoughts: I found The Girl in Red to be a mostly compelling read. The first half definitely packs in a LOT of suspense and mystery. Chapters alternate between present and past, before and after.

Red, our heroine, is a complex character: biracial, bisexual, college student, book-loving, movie-loving, an amputee. She's smart. She's skeptical. She's opinionated. When people first start getting sick and dying, she knows--because of her book-reading and movie-watching that sooner or later--the family will need to flee their home on foot. She starts preparing mentally, physically, emotionally for that inevitable time.

Her brother, Adam, thinks his sister is being ridiculous and overly dramatic. Why not trust the quarantine camps set up by the government? If they can't stay in their own house, why can't they drive to Grandma's house? If they have to go on foot and rough it, why can't they travel by road? I think Adam exists just to disagree with Red.

Her parents agree with her--to a point. They agree that they'd end up walking at some point. (The highways would end up congested, they'd run out of gas, the car may break down.) But they are not ready to drop everything and head off into the woods. They want to wait until the last possible minute. They want to go to town and buy supplies. They want to take their time and pack. Red disagrees. Better to go unprepared than to go prepared but EXPOSED TO A DEADLY DISEASE.

The Girl in Red is definitely heavy on the THRILLER. It's a gory read, purposefully so. This isn't an intellectually-driven plot with well-drawn characters and complex relationships. It's all about the fight-for-survival. It's all about the shock factor.

The Girl in Red was working for me for most of the novel. But at some point it began to fall apart for me.




It wasn't enough that there was a highly-contagious thought-to-be-air-borne disease that was wiping out whole towns, cities, states, nations, etc. NOT ENOUGH DRAMA. It wasn't enough that this led to no electricity, no radio, no tv, no cell phones, no internet, no technology. NOT ENOUGH DRAMA. It wasn't enough that survivors turned lawless, starting looting and killing, and forming their own militias. NOT ENOUGH DRAMA. It wasn't enough that some militias were white supremacists, or, that others were out to kidnap women and children but slaughter all the men. NOT ENOUGH DRAMA.

What if, on top of that there was a government-experiment-gone awry? What if people were "birthing" parasitic flesh-eating monsters? Wouldn't it be all kinds of awesome if in the middle of this novel, Red stumbled across classified information that the government was trying to hide?!?! Surely this makes perfect sense. Some people legitimately had the COUGH and died from that disease while others had a cough, died, and then the parasitic monster would EAT ITS WAY OUT OF THE HOST AND ATTACK OTHERS. That isn't pushing it a little too far at all. In fact, the other novel would hardly be worth reading, right?

The other thing that bothered me was THE ENDING. I got to about twenty pages from the end and I knew there was absolutely no way in the world this was going to be wrapped up in any kind of way. Sure enough, near the very last page we find a convenient sentence...."25 days later...."

Are you serious?!?!?! You're just going to stop mid-action, give me a 25 DAYS LATER... and then cut to a scene where she's about to knock on Grandma's door?!?!?! And then not bother to linger long enough with Red to see if anyone at all answers the door?!?! So all that and STILL NO RESOLUTION. EITHER GRANDMA IS ALIVE OR DEAD. It doesn't matter to me which--not really. But is it really better for readers to forever be left guessing. Perhaps it is.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP