Jackson Pearce: Sisters Red

Title: Sisters Red
Author: Jackson Pearce
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Publisher: Little, Brown

The premise of this book piqued my interest right away – a meaty werewolf story based on Little Red Riding Hood, only Grandma dies and Little Red Riding Hood grows up to be a werewolf slayer. The book starts out with the very definite promise of sadness, with Scarlett, the older of two sisters, having to defend younger sister Rosie from the wolf that killed their grandmother. Flash forward 7 years, and Scarlett, covered in scars and with only one eye, has devoted her life to hunting and killing Fenris, soulless men that transform into wolves to feed on young girls. Scarlett and Rosie are on their own, both having dropped out of school to train and hunt the Fenris. Scarlett’s best friend and hunting partner, woodsman Silas Reynolds, has just returned from San Francisco. Rosie and Silas are the only people in Scarlett’s life, and she drives them to hunt through guilt and their love for her. Silas, however, sees more in Rosie than a hunter, and Rosie starts to realize that while she owes her life to her sister, maybe that doesn’t mean she has to hunt beside her forever.

Pearce delivers two complex and passionate women in Scarlett and Rosie. Rosie and Scarlett each narrate alternating chapters, but in many ways this is Scarlett’s story as she has the most emotional growth ahead of her. Scarlett is physically strong and mentally determined, yet emotionally she’s a mess. She needs Rosie and Silas to hunt with her, to support her. Her strength of purpose isn’t enough to make up for her insecurities about her scars and her regrets about what life could have been for her, and she can’t see that she’s taking away Rosie’s choices just as the Fenris took hers.

It was with Rosie that Pearce really pulled me in. Rosie doesn’t have the physical scars from the wolf attack, but she has all the emotional scars. I wanted Rosie to have everything she could out of life. It made me root for Rosie, and for Scarlett.

Sisters Red is very much a book about sisters, but I also really enjoyed the development of the relationship between Rosie and Silas. Pearce gives all the hints and clues and allows the reader to anticipate the future and to ride along with Rosie as she experiences her first love. Unfortunately I didn’t feel as positive about the main plot. There were points in the story where the book felt stagnant and the characters seemed to be thinking and saying the same things over and over. Fortunately the sluggishness doesn’t last long as the main plot picks up quickly once the lovers are outed.

When Rosie and Silas started to fall in love, I was sure that the book would end in tragedy, with one of the main characters making the ultimate sacrifice for the other two. Pearce deftly pulls out an ending that I didn’t expect. Quite a few of the steps on the way to that ending seemed predictable, and some of the characters’ feats pushed on the borders of what I would consider believable, but by the climax of the book I was so wrapped up in the action that all was forgiven. All in, Sisters Red is an enjoyable read, and a reminder that sisterly love knows no bounds.

Meyer/Kim: Twilight the Graphic Novel, Volume 1

Being a huge fan of Twilight the book and not being a huge fan of Twilight the movie, I had mixed feelings when I heard that a graphic novel was in the works. It is possible to have too much of a good thing, especially when the supplemental materials to the original “good thing” aren’t nearly as good. Instead of ruling out the graphic novel as a simple money maker in the Twilight franchise, I decided I’d wait until the book was in stores to see for myself. I’m glad I did.

Twilight the Graphic Novel, Volume 1 is a hardbound book with an absolutely stunning cover depicting Bella in the now-infamous meadow, and the cover image is just the beginning. Young Kim’s art brings the characters alive, and they are the characters as Stephenie Meyer has written them, not caricatures of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. The drawings are done primarily in black and white, with subtle washes of color on some images and fuller color to call attention to dream images and significant events. While I very much enjoyed the selective use of color, I did feel like some of the drawings felt unfinished. I believe this was a deliberate technique to call attention to certain images and to decrease attention on others, but I would have preferred to see more than the guidelines for eyes on some of the characters, and more than faceless heads on others. Overall, though, the book is beautifully drawn, and pulled me thoroughly into the Twilight universe, the drabness of Forks and the discovery of a first love.

The only major disruption in the book was the frequent placing of speech bubbles over the characters’ faces. I found this terribly distracting and somewhat insulting to Young Kim’s art. Often there was space on the page to place the speech that would not overlap a face, making the placement that much more frustrating. Hopefully the publishers will resolve this issue in Volume 2. I also wondered while reading the book it I would have understood it or enjoyed it as much if I had not read the original novel, as it felt like a lot of the story was left up to interpretation. That might just be me, though, as I often wonder the same thing when watching movie adaptations of books I’ve enjoyed.

Stephenie Meyer states in the introduction of the graphic novel that working on this version of the story brought her back to her first experiences with Edward and Bella, writing, “The art made it fresh again.” I couldn’t agree more. Kim’s beautiful images brought back everything I felt when I first read Twilight and made me excited for the release of Volume 2. Even though I know the rest of the story I can’t wait to see the images that Kim crafts for it. I highly recommend this adaptation to anyone who loved Twilight; hopefully it will make it all new again for you too.