Friday, December 27, 2013

Review: SCARLET by A.C. Gaughen

Title: Scarlet
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Publication date: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens (Bloomsbury)

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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.


Review:
First line: No one really knows 'bout me.

Robin Hood was starting to feel like the fairytale that was retold too much to me. Robin is the hero, Robin is the villain, Robin is a secondary character in a contemporary novel, the protagonist is pulling a Robin Hood, there are Hood aspects to a story. I thought that with all the different Robin Hood variations in the world that surely, I wouldn't be too impressed with Gaughen's version.

Boy, was I wrong.


Instead of having Robin as the main character, he's a secondary character. Instead of having the main character be about crushing on Robin, she's one of his team members, a fellow thief. Right there, it's different. We've all heard about Robin and his merry men. The one I really remembered was John and he's there, but instead of having Will Scarlet be a boy, he is now a she under disguise as a he. Sounds trippy, but it's not. While Robin Hood is the hero among the people, Scarlet is the best thief and the one the girls like to swoon after, ironically enough.

What I liked: 

  • Scarlet kicking butt. I'm all about girl power, whether it's from inner strength or physical strength, and she definitely had the outer kind. Wielding knives, rescuing people from prisons, thieving, and undermining powerful people. I wanted to cheer her on like the obnoxious guys in football stands. 
  • Much, one of Robin's Merry Men. We have John, Robin, Much, and Scarlet. Two of the three guys are crushing on Scarlet and Much is not one of them. I pictured him as a lovable, quiet guy with his disability and he gives you the feeling that you want to hug and protect him, but you know that he wouldn't appreciate it. Can we have more opposite sex platonic relationships, please? 
  • I might have been in turmoil for most of the ending and I really, really liked that feeling. I already have enough stress in my life and usually don't go seeking for it in my reading. However, sometimes it's great to feel that angst because you know you're invested. You care. You're enthralled. The author has officially captured your attention and your emotions and she's doing a fantastic job of weaving her story. 
TURMOIL. FEELS. ANGST.
What I disliked:
  • John aka The Pusher. I call him The Pusher because I felt overwhelmed and claustrophobic just reading about him. At first, I was torn because I thought, "I love underdogs!" and I wanted to root for him despite Robin being the other side of the love triangle. My feelings for John quickly evaporated though because he pushed. And pushed. He invaded my personal space, which is so not good. Back off, John. 
  • Scarlet's speaking, which consisted of were instead of was, added character in the beginning, but then slowly became annoying. I think she was the only one who did that and honestly, I think she would have spoken correctly by then. SPOILER I so knew from the beginning that she was proper. I didn't necessarily figured her real name, but should've if I thought about it. END OF SPOILER.
  • Robin was right, Scarlet played with everyone's emotions way too much. John would flirt with her, she would tell him to back off. He would kiss her, she would reciprocate. Scarlet ran back to Robin, he kept his distance, she went back to John. It was a frustrating cycle. At times, I was able to just enjoy this love triangle and holler for Robin to make his move. Other times, I wanted to slap some sense into Scarlet for being confusing and inconsiderate. Of course John wasn't going to back off if she kept giving mixed signals! 
Really, I don't know why I waited so long to read this. I love retellings and Gaughen wrote this one very well. I immediately longed to have the sequel in my hands so maybe it was a good thing I waited to read this first book. 

Verdict: A fresh way of retelling Robin Hood by adding a kick butt protagonist and tense moments. Also, romance. 

Have you read Scarlet? What's your favorite retelling?


21 comments:

  1. I have read Scarlet it is one of my favorite retelling I have read. Especially since Scarlet puts my favorite Robin Hood character in a new light. One I found out Scarlet was a girl I was pretty sure who she was. At the end I wasn't really surprised that I was right. I can't wait till the sequel.

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    1. I was a bit slow in that, but if I really thought about it and didn't zoom through the book, I think I would have figured it out!

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  2. I'm wondering where Maid Mary Ann (or is it Mariam?) fits into this? Wasn't she the love of Robin's life? Re-tellings can be fun and this sounds like a fresh and original take. Not liking the sound of a love triangle, though. Wonderful review, Sunny! :)

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  3. I haven't read this book yet, but I'm glad you enjoyed it! And great use of gifs, Sunny! :)

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  4. This sounds like a very well-done retelling. The worst thing a retelling can do is just regurgitate the exact plot of the classic story, only altering the time period and the related details, but the changes you describe sound like they make the story original and open opportunities for awesomeness. I love the idea of the protagonist being a part of Robin Hood's gang, and I see how that would showcase her inner and outer strength. I actually love books that stress me out because, like you said, it shows you are invested. Scarlet's voice sounds kind of annoying, but I may have to give this book a try anyway. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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    1. I agree. I love retellings, but when they don't do ANYTHING to make it their own except for the necessary detail change, then I wonder why bother.

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  5. I've been watching out for your review of this one ever since you said it was a good read, Sunny! :) I've been debating on whether or not to pick it up by now I will for sure, I love retellings and the fact that this one is unique makes it all the more awesome. The romance sounds a bit iffy with the MC kind of playing around with all the guys but everything else seems great!

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    1. Aw, thanks, Alise! If you love retellings, then YES DO IT. Yeah, I was on the line throughout, but really, Rob wins you over and it's just...ah, perfect.

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  6. I don't know why I haven't read this book yet, it's been specifically recommended to me by bloggers I trust. WHERE IS MY CLONE WHEN I NEED HER. It sounds fantastic, though! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Though I had to hurry on past that spoiler, hah.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  7. I love Men in Tights...and is it me, or does Cary Elwes just seem RIGHT in them? (My absolutely favorite movie ever is The Princess Bride, just so ya know.) Anyway, I kind of love that we both put this book off and then ended up reading it at about the same time. And that we both loved it. I have to say, I don't think I've read all that many retellings of this story, so I didn't go into it in the same way that you did, but even so, I was still pleasantly surprised by the turn it took. And didn't you think that Much's character ended up being more like the Will Scarlet from the old story and Gisbourne more the character that the Sheriff usually represented, especially his relationship to Scarlet? Not that I minded...I liked seeing old faces in new roles, even if they were still very similar roles. :) Great review, Sunny. I just finished Lady Thief, and I think you'll love it, as well. But, there's a cliffy. And it's kinda major. :(

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    1. I was absolutely giddy when I saw that that happened, both of us procrastinating and then loving it! I did! Oh no. A cliffy. That's what my sister said and I forgot. And that frowny face is not helping my nerves!

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  8. Omg! Just from reading your review I can't believe why I waited so long to read this!
    I had it planned for the upcoming week actually, because I scheduled my review on Scarlet for the 16th or something, but I'm starting this book right now!
    I love retellings, and if you're saying this on is epic, I am reading it RIGHT THIS MOMENT!
    Great review! <3

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    1. This makes me incredibly happy! I hope you love it as much as I did. YAY.

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    2. I just started reading it, and so far its every bit as awesome as you described!

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  9. I remember when this first came out and I didn't think I'd read this. It just didn't sound that good. BUT, just here recently I have wanted to read it. Maybe it has something to do with seeing the 2nd book floating around. I don't know, but your review is definitely pushing me even more to read it!

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    1. I hear there's a big cliffy in the 2nd, but that the whole book is amazing!

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  10. The fact that you used a men in tights gif is just amazing to me, LOL. I want to try this one - it looks fantastic. I've read no retellings of Robin Hood, but.. :D Platonic relationship! Yay! We seriously don't get enough of those. And I like the idea of Will Scarlet being a girl, but it sucks that she just played with people's emotions, though. Awesome review, Sunny! :D

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    1. Haha! I know, there does need to be more platonic relationships! Roar and Aria from Under the Never Sky is my favorite actually.

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