Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce [Book Review]

Sisters Red coverSisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: June 7th 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Fairytale Retellings #1

Goodreads description: 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?

Sisters Red was also on my Summer TBR Top Ten. I’d been interested in it for a while because I love retellings and I liked Pearce’s Purity, which I read before I blogged. My mom picked it up for me at a “store” where teachers get free things ( books and school supplies) and I was excited.

Sisters Red is the story of Scarlett and Rosie March. They live in the country and their family hunts werewolves, also called Fenris. They lived with their grandma until “the big bad werewolf” came when Scarlett was eleven and Rosie was nine. Scarlett saved Rosie’s life while gaining some disfiguring scars and losing an eye in the process. Since that event, Scarlett has been obsessed with killing every possible Fenris. The sisters train to kill and kill werewolves and that is about it.

Scarlett’s woodsman best friend, Silas, helps them hunt but he’s been on a trip across the country for a year. Rosie wants to hunt on her own, but Scarlett is too protective. They dress up in red cloaks and pretend to be helpless to bait werewolves who prey on young girls. They find out that werewolf packs are congregating in nearby Atlanta because there’s a Potential (a potential werewolf, of course) in the area. They pack up and move to a crappy apartment in Atlanta to try to find and save the poor soul while killing as many Fenris as possible.

The sisters have a special bond. They feel like one person and they can share thoughts. Scarlett is older and focused on killing werewolves so they can’t kill or maim more people. She feels it is their responsibility because they know about the Fenris while others do not. Rosie also hates Fenris and wants to kill them, but that isn’t all she wants from life. She wants more normality, but she owes her life to Scarlett so she feels obligated to stick to hunting. Their bond is nice, but it’s also frustrating. They love each other a lot but they don’t talk things out very well.

When Silas returns, he and Rosie start seeing each other differently. The romance is a bit creepy, a little sad, and sickly sweet. She’s sixteen and he’s twenty-one. It doesn’t really go into creepy territory in the story, but Rosie also feels pretty young for sixteen. I think it has to do with how much time she spends with über focused Scarlett instead of other girls her own age. It gets a little too sweet for me, but Silas is always nice to her and encourages her to do what she what she is interested in, regardless of Scarlett’s demands. Rosie has hearts in her eyes like she’s never been around a guy before, but to be fair the only guys she has been around lately are werewolves that she’s aiming to kill. Silas and Rosie hide their romantic feelings from Scarlett because Scarlett is against anything that is Not Hunting. Her reasons are dumb, and if she was more worried about her little sister being with an older guy, it would be more understandable. Romance might distract from hunting, but you can still be a hunter if you’re romantically involved. Obviously, other hunters (her family) have had romances before or else she wouldn’t be alive.

Scarlett is selfish but she’s also caring. She loves her sister and she’s extremely protective. She doesn’t want Rosie to hunt alone, but she doesn’t want Rosie to do anything but hunt. She thinks it is their duty, but she also thrives on the hunt and relishes it. She thinks she needs to protect poor, helpless girls but she also despises them and judges them. She has to help them because she knows about werewolves, but she’s jealous of their freedom and their beauty. She and Silas are disturbing with their attitudes about young girls that end up being victims. Nobody is ever “asking” to be attacked and you’re not better than them because you expect bad things to happen. I think I would have liked Scarlett and Silas so much more and the book better if they weren’t so judgmental. Why even bother saving people you don’t seem to think are worthy of your protection? 

The lore with the Fenris/werewolves is different, interesting, and creepy. Not everyone that’s bitten becomes a werewolf, there is a certain aspect about a male (and only males) that enables them to be turned. Everyone else that gets bitten is injured or dies. The werewolves are vile and prey on young girls like twisted sexual predators and serial killers. I’m not sure the twist is even a twist, because it’s glaringly obvious. Figuring it out doesn’t really ruin anything in the story for you, though. 

There are some intense and exciting hunts and fights with werewolves in this book. Those scenes are also violent and can be gory. The fight scenes were fast-paced. I thought the climax of the story was exciting and thrilling.  There is a little bit of a side-eye at the last-minute, but I was willing to let it slide.

2.5 stars

Sisters Red had a lot of potential, but was a bit disappointing. The characters had likable moments but they were also frustrating and at times disturbing. The werewolf parts were exciting and I liked the writing. As a retelling, it isn’t that close to the Little Red Riding Hood story I’m familiar with, but using red cloaks to lure werewolves in was cool even if cloaks aren’t that modern. I’d recommend this book to someone who can handle some violence, victim-blaming and sisterly angst.

Check out Jackson Pearce‘s website and twitter!

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15 thoughts on “Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce [Book Review]

  1. Ah, I was so excited to read this one 😦 Now i’m not really sure… Scarlett sounds like someone I’d love to strangle in real life, Really, why save people you don’t think are worth saving? The age gap between Rosie and Silas doesn’t really bother me – I’ve read and seen worse.

    Rosie and Scarlett’s personalities sound kind of like Sam and Dean from Supernatural – Sam wanted to have a normal life, but hunted as an obligation to his father and Dead, and Dean was the one who relished killing monsters (although he wasn’t judgemental at all). Anyway, great review! I think I’ll still read it, but I wont hesitate to DNF it if I feel like it.

    • Scarlett is so stubborn and vulnerable, she could be so likable. But every time she mentions “dragonflies,” which is her word for the helpless girls, my ejoyment sank. I don’t think the age gap would’ve bothered me, but Rosie just seems kind of young. I mean, they were friends and he never pressures her or anything and like you, I’ve read and seen worse!

      I’ve only watched the first episode of Supernatural. My brother and a lot of my friends are obsessed with it! The brothers seem like they have a really awesome relationship though and I’m glad Dean isn’t judgmental! You should still read it and if you post a review I will tell you something else that bugged me about the book, haha.

  2. Most of the reviews I’ve seen of this one have been “meh” at best. I SO wanted to read it for the cover (shallow is me!), but I’ve held off because I’m pretty sure I’ll have the same issues I keep seeing crop up in reviews. 😦

    • Isn’t the cover gorgeous? I don’t really want to keep the book but I’d like to keep the cover! They changed the covers of the series and this is the new one and I can’t believe they’d want to change it! I know they always do and they have their reasons but nooo. It was pretty disappointing, it has so much going for it but it just kept losing points.

  3. The cover for this one ALWAYS catches my eye, but I really feel like I keep seeing lackluster reviews for it. Boo 😦 It’s sad when a book doesn’t live up to the potential. Fairy tale retellings seem to be everywhere right now though, so I feel like if I’m going to read one I might as well make sure it’s one that will actually be worth it, and I’m not sure if this one is based on your review. Sorry to hear it was disappointing, but great review anyways!

    • The cover is so gorgeous, they changed it when it went to paperback and it’s not as pretty. There are a lot of retellings now, I hope you find a good one to read! Or if you ever read this one, it’s better for you!

      • That’s the only reason I could think of. Actually, mine is a paperback and it’s the pretty cover, so I guess they just changed it mid-series? The second one has a cover similar but not as pretty, it’s about Hansel and Gretel and it changed to this. Then the third one, about The Little Mermaid I think, only has the new cover. I guess they’re more boy-friendly but the first one is just the loveliest so they’re crazy!

      • The second and third re-dos aren’t as bad, but that first one is just horrible! And really, the second and third re-dos I can’t really imagine being overly attractive for a boy anyways, so meh. I’m with you, the originals were lovely! No matter how many times the beauty of a book doesn’t match the quality of the writing, I still find myself being a sucker for a pretty cover!

  4. Too bad this one didn’t entirely work for you. I REALLY enjoyed it when I read it, though I was bothered by the fact that Simon TOTALLY got bit early on and should have changed and le sigh.

    I can totally see why the romance didn’t work for you, and for others, but for some reason I thought they were super cute together. Maybe I was just glad he wasn’t abusive, like so many of the YA heroes. I may have to evaluate my thoughts on that.

    • He really should have been changed. It’s actually kind of weird that it was so violent and then she went with a sort of easy out. s

      I kind of thought they were cute, but then I thought they were too cute. He was really nice and supportive, I liked that he wanted Rosie to be able to do other things than hunt. It was kind of weird that she was so young and hadn’t been to high school and he’s 21, not that he was actually creepy towards her or anything. I don’t know! There was just something a little off to me, I guess. I kind of didn’t like him as much when he was critical of the way girls dressed and then how he explained his crush on Scarlett.

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