Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

After a failed attempt to read the werewolf romance of the moment, Shiver, I shrugged off the burgeoning werewolf genre as not-for-me. Then along comes Sisters Red which is pretty much a bad ass book all around. Yay, werewolf hunters!

Sisters Red: v. 1Scarlett March has two missions in life: hunt werewolves and protect her little sister, Rosie. Luckily for Scarlett, fulfilling one mission usually involves fulfilling the other, as the Fenris hunt pretty young women like Rosie. Ever since a werewolf attacked and killed their grandmother when they were little, an attack which also took Scarlett's eye as she was even then protecting her little sister, Scarlett has been determined to exterminate the Fenris, and she has the scars, both literal and figurative, to prove it.

Rosie knows she owes her sister her life. Scarlett has sacrificed so much, even her own eye, that Rosie feels becoming a hunter like her sister is a small price to repay her debt. It isn't that Rosie dislikes hunting, in fact she's quite good at it and knows that without her many more girls would be horrifically murdered every month, but Rosie has never had the chance to discover if she even likes to do anything else. And now, back on the scene after a year away from hunting in order to visit relatives, Silas Reynolds is stirring up all sorts of complicated feelings in her young heart. Silas is Scarlett's hunting partner, or was until he left and Rosie took over, but does that mean he can never mean something to Rosie?

Silas is back just in time, as the Fenris packs seem to be congregating, concentrating their hunting efforts in a way the March sisters have never seen before. And there's whispers that they're looking for the Potential - the one man they can bite and turn into another werewolf, so long as they an find him before the next full moon. Silas and the March sisters know this is an unprecedented chance to hunt lots of Fenris at once, and maybe even learn more about how they increase their numbers - but that's about all they know. Hunting and killing werewolves is one thing, but learning how they tick might just be beyond even their formidable capabilities.

This is a book that uses the alternating POV chapters method really, really well. Rosie and Scarlett are so different that even though they're telling the same story, it's almost like we get two different genres. Scarlett's narration gives me the action and adventure story I love, while Rosie gives us a sort of paranormal-romance look at the same basic plot. I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

I also love that these sisters have a real love and affection for each other, even when they don't understand each other. Even when Silas is in the picture, and the story threatens to go into love-triangle territory, the girls stay focused on their primary mission and the importance of their relationship with eachother.

Scarlett is far and away my favorite character, reminding me so much of Rachel in my beloved Animorphs books as she struggles with her warrior identity, but Rosie is no slouch and in fact had two of my favorite moments in the book. I don't want to give too much away, but when Rosie was trying to outsmart a whole pack of werewolves, she had me on the edge of my seat and cheering for her solution. And if this ever becomes a movie, I cannot wait to see her tango scene -it's such a small moment in the book, but the visuals and the soundtrack could make it awesome.

In some ways this is a very sexual book, but without actually ever showing any sex. Pearce has taken the Little Red Ridinghood story, with its warning about girls wandering alone and implications about male sexuality, and seamlessly put it in a modern setting. The methods Scarlett and Rosie use to attract the werewolves - perfume, fancy shampoo, flowing hair and the infamous red cape - could be the jumping off point for a long thesis for a lit or women's studies major. I have to admit, after writing my review for Flow, this is one of the books I was thinking of when wondering why we don't see more periods in YA lit. It seems like when you're dealing so blatantly with sexuality, a woman's period would affect how a werewolf sees her. And the girls are so short on cash you'd think someone would bitch about the price of tampons (because I always cringe to think of how much I'm spending on something that is made to be thrown away, and I don't have to pawn off my grandmother's valuables to make rent). The book covers a whole month, so surely one of them would have had a period!

But seriously, awesome book, and I can't recommend it highly enough! Two companion books are on their way, riffing off of different stories (Hansel & Gretel and the Little Mermaid). I hope to see more of Rosie and Scarlett (ESPECIALLY SCARLETT), but I'll take what I can get!

Once Upon a Time Challenge

Women Unbound Challenge


Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I have so much love for fairytale retellings and this one was no exception. i am looking forward to having one on Hansel and Gretel.

Anna Rhoswen said...

Absolutely adored this book and couldn't put it down. I read it while camping and may have burned the first set of hot dogs I was supposed to be watching. Okay, I did burn them, but totally didn't care.

I really liked how the romance was handled in here. Even though Silas wasn't a focus character, the reader gets to know him really well through how he handles both of the March sisters. I loved that he was a full thought out romance/side-kick character, as opposed to just being there for Rosie to fawn over/Scarlett to beat up.

Rachel Stark said...

This made it onto my list simply because the cover's so exciting, but now I'm really psyched about reading it! I love when your feminist/scholar side comes out in your reviews.

Angela Craft said...

Nicole - Hansel & Gretel is a story I find hard to imagine with a modern counterpart, but after reading Sisters Red, I have total faith in Jackson Pearce.

Britt - Good point about the romance. Even though he isn't a narrator, Silas is a well rounded character who also has goals outside of romance - he's a true friend to both Scarlett and Rosie, and I got the feeling that his support of Rosie was driven foremost by friendship rather than lust/love. If she reciprocated his feelings, in his view it was a lucky bonus.

Rachel - I seriously need someone to write that paper stat, before I'm tempted to write it. This is definitely not your average fairy-tale re-telling. Can't wait to hear what you think of it!

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