Kelly Libatique's Reviews > Red

Red by Kait Nolan
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Jul 13, 12

Read from July 02 to 12, 2012

Take a wild and intense journey into the lives of two young people and their families in Red, by Kait Nolan. Set in a small, rural Southern town (where some are trying to hide), we often find ourselves deep in forests or lost on rugged and untamed terrain--but for good reasons that align with the story. As you read, you find yourself trapped at times, lost with the characters, scared, wounded, tired, and on the run with potential danger lurking. This, of course, makes for the perfect scenarios to hunt, or be hunted, be it by human or werewolf.

In recent years, perhaps because of the enormous success of Harry Potter, there's been a significant upswing in the number of books written about the supernatural. Never have we had more choices when it comes to stories about vampires, ancient gods, demonic possession, witchcraft, or in this case, werewolves. I'm not normally a fan of this type of material as many of them, in lieu of a good story, just go for the lurid descriptions of monsters and blood-spattering battles. And the glorification of evil I avoid altogether. But Red got my attention because it strays from, well, the pack.

First of all, it has an interesting style. It goes back and forth between the perspectives of two people describing things, both in the first person. It's as if you're perusing the diaries of the main characters as they chronicle events. The result is that you get an in-depth perspective from each of them, not only about the events that take place, but what they are thinking about each other. While doing this, Nolan writes in a very comprehensive and descriptive manner. Scenes unfolding that some authors would whip through in just a couple sentences are drawn out, and we see every detail and experience every thought, motive, and emotion the characters experience.

Secondly, this book doesn't focus so much on the supernatural as it does the individuals and their lives--at least not as much as one would assume from the synopsis and book cover. What this story is really about is two people finding each other and themselves, each with histories and backgrounds that make the rest of our lives boring. Some of it gets quite emotionally intense. The main female, Elodie, has been lied to about her past and what really happened to her mother. This has shaped her character thus far, but events that unfold and her relationship to the other main character, a young male, Sawyer, would radically change her. And both characters have father issues. Stories with father issues, reconciliation, and commitment touch a chord in all of us, and this book has a nice running element of this theme.

Next, every good story has an antagonist, and this one has several. Being that Elodie and Sawyer are high school students, there's a bully element that's introduced. This leads to a satisfying, albeit somewhat predictable conclusion as the story comes to an end. But the other antagonist is much more dangerous. This person is out for revenge--the sort that's inspired by historical events and spans over several generations. And although this person makes mysterious appearances here and there while kidnapping or killing, you've no idea who it is at first. This also makes for a nice unexpected twist.

Finally, there's romance. While this can make a nice ingredient if done well, Nolan doesn't do it in a typical way. Characters in this story, while falling in love, must also battle innate lust and violent aggression, the visceral, animal-instinct kind, all the while having to keep their heads on straight and not break cardinal rules. You'll need to read the book to understand what that means. Also know that the sexuality doesn't go over the top and is not what you might expect. I found this to be a pleasant surprise.

All in all, Red would probably make a nice movie and teenagers would swarm to it. It's got pretty much everything--the characters, the story, the passion, the intrigue, the self-discovery, the mystery, and the buried truths to be uncovered. It's not intensely violent as some may expect, but there is bloodshed and some language, so it's not a book for young kids. Read and enjoy, but don't wander into the forest by yourself.
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