Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Girl in Red - Christina Henry

My Favorite 2019 Book Cover
I have been a fan of dystopian novels for as long as I can remember, but that’s not really what drew me to Christina Henry’s excellent dystopian offering, The Girl in Red. What did it instead was my fascination with the book’s cover art depicting a girl in a red hoodie carrying a large axe over her shoulder as she walked through the forest. It was only at second glance that I even noticed that the forest floor was also the back of a huge black wolf with red eyes. I mean, come on, how cool is that? And for about a month, that cover seemed to be everywhere I looked, so I knew I would be reading this one sooner or later.

Christina Henry is, to say the least, an imaginative author. She has already written a “historical fairy tale” based on P.T. Barnum’s Fiji Mermaid exhibit, two books giving a whole different take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and a Peter Pan prequel of sorts featuring Captain Hook. In addition, she has a seven-book bestselling fantasy series  called Black Wings featuring an Agent of Death and her gargoyle sidekick. So, this Little Red Riding Hood rewrite fits right in there.

Red, much to the dismay of her Shakespeare-teaching mother, has grown up on dystopian novels and horror movies. And because she has treated those books and movies as an end-of-the-world instruction manual, she is better prepared than most to help her family survive the mysterious virus that is doing its best to wipe out the human race. Red, though, seems to have forgotten the most instructive aspect of all those apocalypse books and movies she’s devoured over the years: surviving the initial life-changing catastrophic event is just the beginning. Now comes the big problem of what people turn into and what they are willing to do to each other in order to survive the aftermath.

But Red has a plan. She, her parents, and her brother need to get to Grandma’s house.

Christina Henry
It’s not safe in the woods, however, and it’s a long, long walk to Grandma’s house. The military is out in force looking to roundup any survivors they find so that they can be moved to  quarantine camps that actually do more harm than good by mixing healthy people with those already infected by the virus. And those are the good guys. The bad guysare the paramilitary groups whose members seem to have little on their minds other than how they can sexually exploit the women and children they run across in the woods. Yes, there are a whole lot of two-legged wolves in the forest but maybe, just maybe, the real Big Bad Wolf is Red, not them. 

Bottom Line: The Girl in Red is particular fun for a couple of reasons: its take on the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale and the fact that the book’s central character is herself such a huge fan of exactly this kind of novel – upping her odds of postapocalyptic survival. My one quibble with this one is its rather abrupt “25 Days Later” ending that so completely changes the tone of the 291 pages that preceded it. It couldn’t have been that easy, and the ending feels like a little bit of a copout. 

6 comments:

  1. I agree with your quibble. I loved the book, but the abrupt change in tone bothered me as well. The cover is original and beautiful, isn't it?

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    1. It's kind of sad that it ended the way it did because I would have been perfectly willing to read another 100 pages or so to find out how they finally got to their destination and what was going on there...the reaction to their arrival, etc. Oh, well.

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  2. This is a great cover. Very eye-catching and compelling. I haven't read the book yet, but I've heard great things about it. I'm glad you enjoyed it, quibble and all!

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    1. It really is a great cover. I find that cover art is one of the most underrated things in publishing and that some publishers pay way too little attention to it. After all, if they don't catch your eye, you are never going to pick that book up, are you?

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  3. You know I liked this one...I really loved that Red was such a fan of this genre herself. All her 'rules' made me laugh. But I get what you mean about the ending feeling a bit abrupt.

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    1. Those rules were great, weren't they? And they were pretty much the correct move to make in every situation she found herself in - she always made things worse when she disobeyed one of them.

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