May 19, 2012

Review: Sisters Red

By: Jackson Pearce
Published: June 2010 by Little, Brown
Format: Hardback, 324 pages
First Reviewed: July 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
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I am the only one left to fight, so now I must kill you.

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.
Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?

Rating: 4/5

Not gonna lie: I've held off on this book for a long time. Mainly because I don't particularly care for werewolf books and also because it just didn't seem like my kind of read. But, boy, am I glad I picked this up. It was exciting and different and Pearce incorporated much more than just commercial plot points, she actually dived into siblings bonds and friendships that I loved to see. Finally a werewolf book I can say I actually loved.

Pleasantly, pleasantly surprised by Pearce's writing. I've come to expect mediocrity with commercial paranormal these days, but I'm happy to report Pearce didn't fall into that category.

For one, I always have an appreciation for authors who brave dual narratives, even if they don't succeed. Pearce attempted, and for the most part, I think she did an incredible job giving the sisters distinct voices and making sure their thoughts were both different and realistic at the same time. There were times, though, where their voices sounded nearly identical, and I had to pause a few times to remember who's chapter I was in.

Despite the fact that Pearce loves, loves, loves to make her characters sigh, I don't have much to nitpick about. Only that some of the dialogue didn't feel too natural, she sometimes stuck with "annoyed" when she couldn't think of anything else, and she got a little too adverb-happy at times. But she handled the many intense fighting scenes well and I never got confused about what was going on. Her prose was both simple, yet pretty powerful when it came to emotional scenes, I thought. I felt the emotion, which is something I don't usually feel in commercial books, so kudos to Pearce for creating the realism around that.

Finally a pair of broken characters in YA where I actually felt for them. Let's start with Scarlett. She was my favorite of the three main characters, honestly. I loved her spunk, her feistiness, her strength, and her love for her sister. I always love when characters love their siblings more than anything else. And what I also loved about Scarlett was that I felt the anger that she held deep inside, which was not just anger, but pain. Lots of pain. And I felt it, so that was great.

Where the characterization fell a bit for me was with Rosie. I liked her, really liked her at some points--like when she would show her conflicting thoughts and emotions about Silas and Scarlett--but then she just annoyed me sometimes. Her attraction to Silas was too much for me. It distracted her, which seemed like the point, but then it didn't at the same time. should I put this. Like, I knew it was supposed to be distracting, but then it just got to the point where nearly a whole chapter would be about her thinking of how Silas looked without his shirt, or about how badly she wanted to touch him. That part just irked on my nerves a bit.

Anyhow, our third character was Silas, and I liked him a lot. I do think he was a bit old for Rosie...but, anyway, he was a gentleman, nonetheless. And I liked that even though the reader isn't put in his head, we were still able to feel and see his conflicting emotions about things, almost just as well as with Scarlett and Rosie. And he was both funny and serious, which is something I love when an author pulls it off well. All-in-all, he was a solid male lead.

What else I liked about this book was that there weren't many minor characters. Just the wolves, which were pretty interesting, in my opinion. A new spin on them. I like the Pearce kept the focus on the three leads and didn't try and add in a bunch of people here and there. Only when needed.

I'm not usually one for spins on fairytales, but I can't deny that I really, really enjoyed this plot. I was engaged from the very beginning, falling in love with the setup of how the sisters live and these mysterious wolves that kind of creeped me out. It was full of intensity and a perfect balance between fighting, romantic scenes, sister scenes, fun scenes, and emotional scenes.

My main problem lies with the fact that it was predictable. I already knew about the Potential from the very first time that word was mentioned, so that didn't make the twist too exciting for me. Also, like I said earlier, I would have liked a little less of Rosie's thoughts on Silas. I felt the romance was fine and sweet and just enough, but Rosie thought about him a little too much for me.

The pacing was great to me. For being a reader who doesn't care for werewolves, I was completely invested in this story. I felt the elements were unique and different from the other werewolf books, and somehow held my attention through out, even forcing me to read most of the time. But that's not what really made the book for me. It was the emotion I got from it. The pain I felt for Scarlett, the torn wants and needs Rosie had, and the conflicted thoughts Silas had. I even cried at the end. Probably for more of a personal reason than anything, but still, it made me feel, and I loved that.

Other: I already mentioned that Pearce did a dual narrative, but she also wrote the beginning and end chapters in third, and succeeded, but what I really loved about the last chapter was that she merged two scenes in two completely different places together without breaks. That was a first for me, and I liked it! Also, warning: There is a bit of language in this (the f-word a couple times, as well as hell and "a-hole") and there's a scene where a character has to paint a naked man. You know, like in one of those natural art classes? It's not a vivid scene, but it's mentioned. Just a forewarning.

I'm so happy I picked this up. It was full of nonstop action, a sweet romance, and intense confliction between characters, both with one another and with themselves. One of the few commercial books to make me feel and get emotional, and I really connected with Scarlett. Rosie sometimes as well, but Scarlett the most. This was a dark, yet unique read that kept me reading from beginning to end. Very much enjoyed it and I highly recommend it!

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