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?
(Description from Goodreads)
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Interesting concept for a YA book was my first thought when I saw this book come up on Goodreads. It’s like a different take on the build of a person, whether they are big or small. Some reviewers are taking it as far as to say that it’s similar to racism, but I would not go so far as to say that. However, it was a different and interesting take on bullying and discrimination.
As the description says, Felicity has some of the prettiest red hair in all of Scarlettville. However, someone has figured out her secret and now intends to use it against her. The once powerful (fake) redhead now has to cater to a brunette, something unimaginable to all redheads in this town.
I liked this book a lot and it’s always nice to see a different approach to a touchy topic that is typically explored in YA books. However, there were of course some things about the book that just didn’t sit well with me. First, (and I don’t really think this is a spoiler, but it might be to some) you find out who is blackmailing Felicity within the first 1/3 of the book. I was really hoping it was someone not expected, but for me it sadly was expected. Perhaps if the author somehow dragged the revealing of the blackmailer out longer, it may have become more of a surprise.
Felicity’s mother also really got on my nerves. I think the author wanted this to happen, but it was over-the-top for me disliking her. There were really no redeemable qualities about that woman and I truly felt sorry for Felicity. If you’ve ever watched the TV show Toddlers and Tiaras before, just imagine those pageant moms and how crazy they become. That was basically what Felicity’s mother was like 24/7. I mean, the fact that she started dying her daughter’s hair when she was only TWO-years-old is just insane. Isn’t that dangerous on so many levels? I can’t. (Girl Code reference anyone?) Also, one of Felicity’s friends bugged me, though I seriously tried to like her throughout the book. The ending set it in stone for me that I was not a fan of her. No true friend would act the way she did, but that’s all I’m saying on her.
Red was a book focused on first world problems to the extreme. The girls in it were all obsessed with their hair; heck, even the guys and adults were obsessed with it! The idea that the color of your hair is what gives you status in a society is farfetched, but is a new and different approach to the idea that the weight you are is what gives you status in a society; they are not far removed from one another. I still don’t quite understand why the blackmailer felt the need to completely ruin Felicity’s life in order to accomplish her main goal (I won’t say what.) But, I suppose that’s just my take on the matter and I’m sure the author wrote this for a purpose. Perhaps I just missed it.
What I loved the most about Red was Felicity. I just loved her character and really felt myself connecting with her while I read. I felt all of her emotions while she was going through everything. I understood where she was coming from on all of her decisions. I can’t imagine what it was like for her to be told to be someone else her entire life and then all of a sudden realize who she truly was. I really sympathized with her. Am I being mushy? Maybe. But she was a real person to me, not just some made-up character. I also really loved the whole art show scene for she and Jonathan; it just all seemed to flow so perfectly, especially the piece Felicity entered into the show. The ONLY issue I had with Felicity’s character was that the book was written in third person, so I didn’t connect with her AS much as I may have if it came directly from her point of view. When it comes to YA, I prefer first person, but that’s just my preference.
This book is entirely about discovering who you are and how you fit into society. It’s about the unfairness of life and the privileges that come along with certain characteristics of people. And it most definitely makes you wonder, just how far would you go to protect a secret? Is it so important that you start ruining the rest of your life just to make sure no one finds out? Of is it easier to overcome and not care what happens? Honestly, I wouldn’t know what to do. But then again, I don’t have a secret that anyone would blackmail me for, so luckily I never have to worry about that! But still… Either way, I liked this book a lot. I was close to giving it 4 out of 5 stars, but there were just a few aspects about it that held me back from doing so. I would still recommend it, however.