Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Review: Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright and David Leslie Johnson

ISBN: 0316176044
Published: January 25th, 2011
Publisher: Poppy
Read from April 13th to 22nd, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The blacksmith would marry her.
The woodcutter would run away with her.
The werewolf would turn her into one of its own.
Valerie's sister was beautiful, kind, and sweet. Now she is dead. Henry, the handsome son of the blacksmith, tries to console Valerie, but her wild heart beats fast for another: the outcast woodcutter, Peter, who offers Valerie another life far from home.
After her sister's violent death, Valerie's world begins to spiral out of control. For generations, the Wolf has been kept at bay with a monthly sacrifice. But now no one is safe. When an expert Wolf hunter arrives, the villagers learn that the creature lives among them--it could be anyone in town.
It soon becomes clear that Valerie is the only one who can hear the voice of the creature. The Wolf says she must surrender herself before the blood moon wanes...or everyone she loves will die.
Based on a screenplay written by David Leslie Johnson


I went into this book very skeptical. This book is a novelization of a movie, which doesn't create the greatest confidence in a book, but the fact that I had only heard negative things about both it and the movie it was based on made me even less confident that it would be good. I had bought it back when the movie came out based on the mere fact that the story revolved around a werewolf though, and I was determined to read it.

I do think that the book could have been a lot worse. It's the only novelization of a movie I've read that wasn't meant for children, so that right there kind of improved it. The whole situation about who wrote the book is a bit confusing, but from what I can understand, Johnson wrote the script which was then given to Blakley-Cartwright who wrote the book.

I do think that Blakely-Cartwright is a good writer as far as how she strings words together. As far as that goes, the book was good. The story is what was the problem. For that reason, I'm actually hopeful that Blakely-Cartwright could go on the write some good stuff in the future, since she wasn't really responsible for the story just the actual words put down in the book. If she had been constructing this story on her own, maybe it would have been much better. Then again, maybe it wouldn't have been. She apparently doesn't have any other novels for us to know.

It's hard to even know where to start with the problems with the story though. There's a love triangle between Valerie and two guys. Neither guy is given any personality, so it's hard to really care about how that even turns out. None of the characters in the story are really given time to be fleshed out or be three-dimensional, which is funny because if you read Catherine Hardwicke's introduction she praises Blakley-Cartwright for doing just that when it wasn't possible in the film.

My biggest problem with the love triangle, however, is that it's your stereotypical case of instalove. Valerie and Peter were best friends as kids, but Peter disappeared. Now, Peter comes back and him and Valerie are basically a thing just like that even though they've both grown up and no longer know each other. They hardly even have a conversation throughout the entire book, yet they're both incredibly adamant that it's true love. I don't know how they know that considering that fact that they hardly speak to each other, but apparently they do. In fact, at one point in the book Valerie sneaks away to meet Peter. They're alone, which you think would be the perfect opportunity to have a conversation and catch up with each other, but they don't. They just ride around on a horse without speaking. Needless to say, it's a bit difficult to believe that they're meant to be together.

On the other hand you have Henry who has apparently been in love with Valerie for quite a while even though she doesn't return his feelings. This is also a bit hard to see considering he doesn't talk much to Valerie over the course of the book either. Now, since his feelings can kind of be pushed aside as a crush, I wouldn't have minded that much, but with Peter and Valerie's relationship being so unbelievable, Henry's feelings just made the whole love triangle even more unenjoyable.

*Slight spoilers in the next paragraph*

As for the rest of the storyline, there is absolutely no build up towards the conclusion. The entire book drops hints that the wolf could be various people, and then when you actually discover who the wolf is it makes no sense at all and is completely out of left field. If you're going to do that, you at least have to make it so that readers can go back and see where you actually dropped hints toward that ending, but I'm pretty doubtful that I would find any of those if I went back and looked. Looking back on it, the fact that this was pretty much the only character where there weren't hints might have made it somewhat obvious, but that's some pretty bad foreshadowing, if you could even consider foreshadowing.

Then we have the fact that there's not even an ending in the book. Apparently, when the movie was coming out they wanted to keep readers from discovering the end of the movie, which I get but also think is ridiculous. Maybe if the ending had actually been a worthwhile one I would feel a bit more sympathetic, but that doesn't change the fact that no one wants a book that is missing a chapter. You have to go to a website (listed on a page at the end of the book) in order to read the last chapter. Now, almost anyone reading this is going to have Internet access and be able to get the last chapter, but who wants to do that? It's a terrible idea. To be fair, you're probably better off without that chapter because the conclusion is pretty terrible, but if you want to know who the wolf is, getting online to read the chapter is required.

Can I also point out that anyone can go to that website? If you really want to read that chapter, all you have to do is going to the website and open up the file. So they went through all of this to disguise the ending before the movie came out, but now it's on the Internet for the whole world to read without actually watching the movie or reading the rest of the book.

Overall, the writing in the book wasn't terrible, and I was at least able to stick with it all the way through. It's not a very memorable story though, and I didn't really care about how it went at all. I am curious enough that I wouldn't mind watching the movie just to have seen it. I wouldn't really recommend this books though (and probably not the movie). There are much better werewolf stories out there, and you're not really going to get much from this one.

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