Saturday, December 14, 2013

Review: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Title: Scarlet
Author: A.C. Gaughen

Genre: YA Historical Adventure
Publisher: Walker Childrens

Length: 292 pages
Original Publishing Date: February 14th, 2012
Series: Scarlet #1
Where I got it: NetGalley

Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:

"Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.
Main characters: 3.5/5

Scarlet's wittiness, independence and daring were likeable characteristics, but overall she often seemed immature. Scarlet's past affected her present to a great extent, but it also made her sometimes lacking morals make sense. Her weird issues with food made sense, but it almost felt like anorexia, which I shied away from. She also had some moments where I just shook my head, such as when she misinterprets what Robin means (I feel like this happens a lot). I liked the fact that she was willing to play outside the rules, sometimes to a fault. Sometimes her wittiness came off as sharp or abrasive, but either way it was clear that Gaughen had taken the time to create a well-developed main heroine.

Secondary characters: 3/5

Gaughen threw a lot of characters on the reader at the onset. I'm a little ashamed to admit this, but I don't have a lot of experience with the Robin Hood tales besides *cough* the Disney movie *cough* so I wish there had been more description and character development.
Robin was a little mysterious, a little heroic and a lot frustrating. The relationship between him and Scarlet was full of misunderstandings and hiding feelings. Gaughen included more depth on Robin toward the end by discussing why he became an outlaw, but he still felt one-dimensional for much of the novel. John Little was funny in his "player" ways and I liked his sassiness, but again I felt like I didn't understand his motivations and his character didn't have much depth.

Writing style: 2/5

Gaughen used colloquial phrases in her writing style but one thing that bothered me was the use of "were" instead of "was" in order to characterize Scarlet in her time period. I just kept stopping and being jolted out of the text because it threw me off so much. I also had a tough time getting into the groove of the writing style. Every once in a while I'd be sucked in for a few pages but it never thoroughly kept my attention. I think part of it was the fact that I was being told a lot of information, rather than shown. The writing did pick up in the second half after the plot twist and it was much easier to read.

Plot: 3/5
The retelling of Robin Hood through the eyes of Scarlet was a great concepts; but it ultimately didn't deliver. Even the plot points made for a good story however the pacing and the writing fell flat. Additionally, the tension wasn't strong enough and there weren't enough action scenes to merit the retelling of such a great adventure story. However, the plot did improve in the second half of the novel with the plot twists (which I saw coming but was still exciting). The action picked up and I breezed through the second half.

Ending: 4/5

The plot twist came relatively early on and that was the turning point where the action picked up for me. The ending was eventful, tense and full of "You go girl!" moments.

Best scene: The ending

Reminded Me Of:  Robin Hood: Men in Tights... just kidding but not really.

Positives: A fun retelling premise, an exciting plot twist, a very sassy and independent lead heroine, the ending

Negatives: Instalove, writing style, the use of "were" rather than "was" (couldn't get past it!), one-dimensional secondary characters, boring plot for the first half

Cover: I was pleasantly surprised by the cover, especially for the historical which I've found generally doesn't have as pretty of covers. The simplicity really makes the girl's face stand out and the font is perfect.

Verdict: A cool premise with a unique main character, but the plot and writing fell short of making this an exciting adventure story.

Rating: 6.2/10 (3 stars)

What I Was Listening To: 
I was listening to this amazing Coldplay cover of "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)". Love that Coldplay can pull off pretty much any song, but especially love that this was a tribute. 

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

1 comment :

  1. I've read this book a while ago and absolutely loved it! I don't really remember the writing-style, but I do know I really liked Scarlet as a character :) I'm sorry that the secondary characters fell a bit flat to you and that you couldn't enjoy the writing-style!