Title: The Girl in Red.
Writer(s): Christina Henry.
Format: Advance Review Copy.
Release Date: June 18th 2019.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
Retellings are fun to visit when your favourite stories are brought back to life under new lights. From enjoying the references to discovering new adventures with your beloved characters, these stories are enjoyable from time to time if the author knows how to manipulate their pieces. Christina Henry is one of those authors who like to write darker retellings of classics like Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. Praised for her fantastic writing style and flawless imagination, her books have always managed to please her fanbase as she hits all the right notes with each of her books. Her latest story turns out to be my first avant-goût of her work and promises exciting reading experiences to come soon.
What is The Girl in Red about? Transforming the perennial classic “Little Red Riding Hood” into a gritty and dark postapocalyptic retelling where a young woman, who goes by the name of Red, fights for her survival but also fights to prove her womanhood to all the naysayers around her. With two timeless, one set at the beginning of the Crisis and one much later, the story follows Red in her quest to avoid the plague that decimated the population by searching for a refuge at her grandmother’s cabin located in the woods. Although threats of hungry creatures are inevitable, they aren’t the ones that she’ll have to look out for as humans continue to show their best side during crises. With a rocky road in front of her, Red, however, plans on pulling out her axe to just about anyone that dares to get in her way.
While Christina Henry delivers an entertaining and atmospheric story with The Girl in Red, which favours a fast pace with colourful characters and a truly cinematic experience, it is far from being the most perfect retelling as the author rounded corners to achieve a rather basic story that doesn’t necessarily reach new heights in what has already been accomplished in this subgenre. A lot of the intrigue felt like déjà-vù as the story went through a checklist of necessary ingredients for a postapocalyptic survival adventure. Speaking of checklists, throughout the story, there was an overwhelming impression left on me that indicated that the author wanted to include as much diversity and health issues (ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, etc.) as possible to please those who actively search for those elements in their stories. While she doesn’t dwell long on each of the issues to make it seem like she was preaching to her audience, they did seem unnatural and unnecessary to the story.
Where I also had issues with this story lies in the protagonist and how she evolves throughout this story. The narrative structure allows the reader to indulge a certain amount of suspense, where they are kept oblivious of the cause of the Crisis and what exactly happens to Red’s family. However, throughout most of the story, Red is arrogant in her perception of events and actions. She continuously and fervently repeats the importance of movies to her understanding of the rules of survival during postapocalyptic scenarios, as it seems to be her sole reference to help guide her way. While she is strongly independent and bleeds with courage, she simply isn’t a character that I could mentally support throughout her quest with her façon d’être always there to annoy me.
The Girl in Red is a fast-paced and gritty retelling that explores the willpower and perseverance of a young woman as she seeks safety from an intangible threat.
Thank you to Berkley for sending me a copy for review!