Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2013
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book really grabbed my attention with its focus on red hair. I am very obviously a brunette and I've never really desired to be a redhead but I have noticed mocking of "gingers" and such so I thought it was an interesting concept that would be fun to read.
In Scarletville, redheads are the privileged, the elite. To have natural red hair is a source of pride. However not all do though to gain power, one must ensure its presence. Such is the life of Felicity. She's one of the most popular girls in school but her gorgeous red hair is a lie-she's actually only a strawberry blonde and has had her hair artificially dyed for years. When someone starts blackmailing her over this secret, Felicity begins to question her very life in Scarletville and what she might do if the secret gets out.
There's actually quite a lot going on in this book as I didn't even touch on Felicity's participation in the town's annual Miss Scarlet pageant along with her two best friends. There's also her interest in art, unsupported by her mother and some romantic relationship drama that is pretty predictable especially if you read a lot of YA. A big element though is satire of our world and its obsession with appearance. I'm not sure if I was in the wrong mood or what, but the satirical elements didn't always work for me and sometimes seemed to be played completely in earnest. I adored Libba Bray's Beauty Queens so I know that at times I can appreciate that approach but it was not as effective for me here.
Felicity is an okay character-the secret life she lives is very difficult for her and there was a revelation near the end that left me really feeling for her. I thought she took forever to stand up to her blackmailer but she was under a lot of pressure (and it would have made the book shorter). I enjoyed her interest in art and new flirtation (when they're eating the french fries was an excellent scene) a lot more. Her mother is very difficult; she's a single mom raising Felicity and two rambunctious young boys but she's obsessed with the pageant and getting Felicity to follow in her footsteps no matter what Felicity actually wants. It was just hard to be good with her though I do give props for her being pretty present for a YA parent.
As the book progressed, I definitely became more interested. I enjoyed seeing Felicity stand up to her blackmailer and kiss the cute guy though I wish the ending had felt more resolved. I feel like lately I want everything much more tied up than it ends up being.
Overall: I had fun reading this and the ending really lifted the story; I especially recommend this book for redheads!
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