Published by Quercus on Jan 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 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.
RED was a fun, cute, quick read with an entertaining albeit slightly ludicrous plot and a strong moral message that I enjoyed.
Felicity has it all, living in Scarletville, the world’s only Redhead Sanctuary, she is popular, well liked, dating the hottest guy in school and a shoo-in for the upcoming Miss Scarlet pageant. Life should be perfect but Felicity is hiding a scandalous secret…she may benefit from the privilege of being a redhead but gasp! she is living a lie and really her hair is a shade closer to reddish blonde, dark enough to be called “carrots” anywhere else in the world but in Scarletville is a one way ticket to the back of the line and a life as a second class citizen. When Felicity receives an ominous note revealing that someone knows her secret Felicity knows her world could come crashing down at any minute. Will she bend to peer pressure or will she stand and challenge the status quo?
I went into RED with a slight air of trepidation as reviews appeared to range widely however I have to say I found it fun, fresh and cute. I will say I think this book is more suited to be classed as MG and as such I read it with that in mind which I think helped me to enjoy it more as I was willing to overlook the fact that Scarletville was not set in some strange, dark and forbidding dystopia where redheads are an endangered species (which would have been tons of fun) but instead was simply a town in a contemporary novel that lauded those with a ruby hue.
Despite the “out there” premise, the main plot of the story was one that I connected with and I sympathised with Felicity and her dilemma. I liked Felicity as a character, continuously pushed by her mother to fit a certain mould and always show the face that pleases those who are considered important rather than being allowed to embrace her individualism and pursue her own dreams. One scene that really got to me was when Felicity was discussing her future and it was clear it never occurred to her that it could and should be possible for her to develop her skills in art, her passion, rather than simply settling for the local school. Constantly badgered to play a part rather than be herself meant that when the initial threat of exposure is revealed to her she cannot comprehend this being anything other than a disaster. Felicity’s mother Ginger infuriated me and I willed for Felicity to stand up to her and demand to be allowed to experience her own happiness rather than having to fulfil Ginger’s hopes and dreams and be her meal ticket.
Because of the slightly younger feel to the text it was unfortunate that the themes of prejudice were never fully developed however I adored the message to be true to yourself, that marching to the beat of your own drum is never easy but is worth it. Happiness is something that is hard earned when there are people in the shadows ready to try and steal it from you but it is something that when embraced from within rather than sought from outside sources can flourish in the most unlikely of ways.
I particularly loved the characters Ivy and Jonathan. Both have accepted their differences and won’t sacrifice their truth for anyone and it was heartening to see at times particularly when Felicity was struggling to keep everyone happy.
Overall I think RED is an assured début with interesting characters, a cute storyline and a positive message to remain true to yourself in the face of adversity.