Review: Red

RedI first “met” Kait Nolan on Twitter, where she shares wry and self-deprecating tales of home and work life as well as gluten-free cooking experiments under her @kaitonlan handle. Based on reading her blogs, I had to assume she was at least a decent writer, but just hadn’t gotten around to reading one of her offerings just yet. I’m going to have to push her Mirus series up my list of things to read, though, given how deftly she crafted this modern take on a fractured version of the Red Riding Hood fairy tale.

Although YA is apparently a new genre for Nolan, she settles herself firmly in the context of the understood norm for the trope: A misunderstood teenaged girl in search of some meaning for the tragedies of her life.

In this case, Elodie (and I have to say I love that name!) lost her mother as an infant in what was described to her as a suicide. In her early teen years, then, she receives a rude awakening to some truths about the mother she never knew that make her suspect the suicide was actually an heroic act rather than an abandonment or a betrayal.

One of the hallmarks of the storytelling in this book is the hand-off between first-person POV descriptions of the action in real time. The contrasting viewpoints of the two protagonists lob the story ball back and forth in such a way that halfway through the book, you’re almost to the point of shaking your eReader to get each to come clean with the other. But that’s actually good, because it shows that Nolan isn’t taking any shortcuts in her characters’ development or evolution.

Given an early self-description of Sawyer and its almost-self-conscious mirroring of another popular YA male protagonist, the part of the reader that becomes the omniscient narrator in this style has to chuckle at the irony:

You are turning into a stalker, I thought as I knelt to check the scent trail again. I’d been trying to convince myself otherwise for the last three miles.

After my questionable rescue of the girl in the woods yesterday, I’d trailed her home. It’s not like I was turning into some sparkly, blood-sucker wannabe, who hung out staring into her room while she slept or something. Give me some credit. I just wanted to make sure she made it home okay and kept her word. As far as I knew, she had, and that should have been the end of it.

I appreciated the dialogue as being true-to-life without overdoing the teenaged angst, malaise, or other easy cliches some YA authors fall into. Nolan also does a bang-up job of making sure her characters have a great deal more backbone and self-awareness than the referent indicated in that quote, which makes the inevitable happy-ending of any good fairy tale ring true and solid. For that, I give her a double thumbs-up and unconditionally recommend this book to any paranormal romance fan, whether they come at it from the adult or young adult angle.

🙂

To make things even juicier for the reading public: I got to interview Nolan as part of her book release activities, so watch this space on September 1st to see what she has to say about holding down a day job while working on her writing career straddling the fence between indie and having representation, among other tidbits.

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  1. Author Interview – Kait Nolan « A Book A Day - [...] share her thoughts. In the meantime, Red is available as an eBook in all the major outlets, and I…

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