Monday, 27 June 2011
Review: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
First published in Great Britain in: 2010
By: Hodder Children's Books
The story of Scarlett and Rosie March, two highly-skilled sisters who have been hunting Fenris (werewolves) - who prey on teen girls - since Scarlett lost her eye years ago while defending Rosie in an attack. Scarlett lives to destroy the Fenris, and she and Rosie lure them in with red cloaks (a colour the wolves can't resist), though Rosie hunts more out of debt to her sister than drive.
But things seem to be changing. The wolves are getting stronger and harder to fight, and there has been a rash of news reports about countless teenage girls being brutally murdered in the city. Scarlett and Rosie soon discover the truth: wolves are banding together in search of a Potential Fenris - a man tainted by the pack but not yet fully changed. Desperate to find the Potential to use him as bait for a massive werewolf extermination, the sisters move to the city with Silas, a young woodsman and long time family friend who is deadly with an axe. Meanwhile, Rosie finds herself drawn to Silas and the bond they share not only drives the sisters apart, but could destroy all they've worked for.
When you've been wanting to read a book for a while, there's always the danger that it won't meet your expectations. Luckily, this didn't happen with Sisters Red - I liked it just as much as I'd hoped I would.
The prologue is an updated version of Little Red Riding Hood and weaves together the familiar characteristics of the original (the wolf, the grandmother, the woodsman) with modern-day details (the girls eat Popsicles and watch The Price is Right) to create an eerie and atmospheric beginning. Fast-forward to the present and Scarlett and Rosie are teen werewolf slayers, their lives revolving around killing the beasts who murdered their grandmother and left Scarlett heavily scarred.
I really liked the device of having each sister narrate alternating chapters - it gave insight into both characters and allowed the reader to fully understand their bond. It doesn't get repetitive because Pearce keeps the action moving and something new happens in each chapter.
Scarlett is definitely not your usual YA heroine and I found her fascinating. She reminded me of the Buffy from The Wish episode of that show: angry, bitter and grimly fixated on the hunt. She's hard to love, but she's kind of awe-inspiring. Rosie is no slouch, either and I thought it was cool the novel showed that the sisters were equals in smarts and ability - I think my mouth is still agape at Rosie's awesome maneuvers in the climax. Scarlett and Rosie's relationship is the heart of the novel and the depth of their feeling is incredibly touching at times. Rosie's romance with Silas has some sweet moments, but it really pales in comparison to ScarRo, which is where the epic, overpowering love is at.
The Fenris were genuinely creepy and the encounters with them made Sisters Red a tense, addictive read - I always wanted to keep reading to see what happened next. The wolves don't really work as metaphor for rapists or other real-world predators (if Pearce even intended that) because there are set rules when it comes to attracting/defeating them, which is not the case in life. But as villains in a story? They bring the scary and then some.
I do think a lot of the plotline fell together too easily and conveniently and might not stand up under scrutiny, but while reading, I was completely carried along with it. Some of the plot twists were predictable, but I feel that was down to the story wanting to fit and evoke fairy tale conventions and I was fine with it.
The novel may have its imperfections, but it mixed folk tale, fight scenes, scares and sisterhood - those are a few of my favourite things and made it a just-right read for me.
Rating: 4.5 stars