Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Review of Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen


Title: Scarlet
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Pages: 292
Publication Date: Feb. 14th, 2012 

Back Cover

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.

First Lines

"No one really knows 'bout me. I'm Rob's secret, I'm his informant, I'm his shadow in dark places."

In a Sentence

Though I felt like the love triangle wasn't necessary, Scarlet was an extremely fun read that put an interesting twist on an old legend.

My Thoughts

Alright. I admit it. I went on a bit of a Robin Hood kick. After finishing Robin McKinley's The Outlaws of Sherwood, I immediately followed up with Scarlet: a book I'd been looking forward to reading since I first heard of it. Lucky for me, one of my friends snagged a copy with her Barnes and Noble gift card and was nice enough to let me read it. Because I went out of town to visit extended family over this past weekend, I had a six hour drive crammed into a van packed to the brim with my family and our luggage (and my brothers' mini arsenal of bows and shotguns). It was cramped and uncomfortable, but Scarlet provided me with the perfect escape. 

Because of the six hour drive from St. Louis, MO to Valparaiso, IN, I managed to finish Scarlet in a single sitting. However, Scarlet is also a fairly short book, and the pacing of the plot is very conducive to a quick reading. There were no slow parts for me in Scarlet at all. From the beginning, I was hooked, and I couldn't wait to find out what would happen to Scarlet and Robin's band of miscreants. 

A lot of reviewers have commented on the way Scarlet speaks in the book, and I can understand why. Personally, I did have a little bit of trouble with Scarlet's dialect at first, but I grew accustomed to it rather quickly. Scarlet speaks in a slightly broken sort of "commoner" dialogue that takes some getting used to, but once I was a couple of chapters in, I virtually forgot about it. 

My one big (and pretty much only) complaint about Scarlet is that there was a love triangle. Not only was there a love triangle, but like many love triangles, I found this one to be completely unnecessary in terms of plot and characterization. In my opinion, the story had no trouble standing on its own without the further added complexity that a love triangle provides. I feel like a lot of books use the love triangle as a plot device to keep two of the main characters apart or to further complicate things and subsequently, lengthen the story. Scarlet  didn't need this, and I felt like the addition of the love triangle was utterly superfluous. However, with that being said, I also have to admit that the love triangle in Scarlet was one of the better ones I've seen in recent YA literature. I still wasn't a fan, but it didn't annoy me as much as some others have. 

As a character, I really liked Scarlet. Being the only girl in a band full of boys in their late teens and early twenties had to have been a difficult task. Besides that, Scarlet also felt as if she had to hide her past from her friends, and carrying such a big secret as hers does not make for an easy load. In addition, Scarlet has the kind of personality that tends to take on big responsibilities and even bigger amounts of guilt if those responsibilities are not met in every way. She often blames herself for the suffering of the people of Nottingham, even though she is doing more than most to help them out. Finally, Scarlet is a strong girl, both physically and mentally, which got her a lot of respect from me.

Throughout the novel, there is an element of mystery about Scarlet's past. You don't find out about who she was or where she came from right off the bat, so curiosity definitely helps to keep the pages turning. I have to admit that I guessed the big "revelation" rather early on in the story, but suspecting what would happen didn't alter my enjoyment of the book. Overall, Scarlet was a fun and fast read that was definitely worth my time.


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