Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Series: Scarlet #1
Published by Bloomsbury on February 12th, 2012
Genres: fantasy, historical, retellings, young adult
Buy on Amazon
Posing as one of Robin Hood's thieves to avoid the evil Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only Big John and Robin Hood know the truth-that the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. It's getting harder to hide as Gisbourne's camp seeks to find Scarlet and drive Robin Hood out of Nottinghamshire. But Scarlet's instinct for self-preservation is at war with a strong sense of responsibility to the people who took her in when she was on the run, and she finds it's not so easy to turn her back on her band and townspeople. As Gisbourne draws closer to Scarlet and puts innocent lives at risk, she must decide how much the people of Nottinghamshire mean to her, especially John Little, a flirtatious fellow outlaw, and Robin, whose quick smiles and temper have the rare power to unsettle Scarlet. Full of exciting action, secrets, and romance, this imaginative retelling of the classic tale will have readers following every move of Robin Hood and band of thieves.
Lyn: Oh, boy, this is going to be a fun one. I think I am the outsider here. I didn’t like this book. At all.
Kara: Oh dear. Next?
Bekka: I have to admit, I wasn’t a fan at all until the second half.
Kara: It took me about 20%, and then I was hooked. Okay. maybe more like 30%. I did have some issues though. I didn’t like how Scarlet led John on. I feel like the triangle was one-sided and kind of unnecessary. It made me dislike her for a time. I thought she was better than that.
Lyn: John gets SHAFTED. On the other hand, he was a dick and acted so disgusting. I was very disappointed in the love triangle, which was more of a hot mess than anything. This novel would have been better off without focusing on the sloppy romance. I mean, awesome things happened, then we get pages upon pages of the same old banter between the men and Scarlet.
Bekka: I really disliked John’s characterization. In the beginning, the love triangle made sense, but then as it progressed, his behavior turned disgusting. The worst part is that Scarlet was basically okay with it, and so was Rob. No one told John that he was acting gross.
Kara: Agree. I don’t like how he pressured her the way he did. I found it vile. I also had issues with Rob too though. Was it necessary to call her a WHORE? I mean, I guess we are getting the yucky stuff out of the way first, and I am fine with that. To be honest, I totally shipped Robin and Scarlet, and I still do, but oh boy did that one particular scene piss me off. I cannot believe it has not been mentioned in more reviews. Or am I blind?
Bekka: You know, I while I really hate that he called her a whore, I think we’re getting the ugly side of the time period when we see Robin acting out like that. I don’t condone that sort of behavior, but at the same time, she WAS betrothed to another man and that was the way women were looked at back then.
Kara: I know, and you have a point, but it still bothers me. I just hate derogatory terms of any kind. Also, that was totally not her fault who she was betrothed to, and I think deep down inside her had to know that. At the same time, that was my only issue with him. I really loved him and how he was devoted to the townspeople and his band.
Lyn: Robin Hood had the personality of a wet paper bag. I agree with Kara – I thought it was out of line. Scarlet never knew if he was honestly interested. And she is free to kiss who she wants, when she wants. She doesn’t have to answer to Rob. On this note, here is the quote that made me throw my Kindle down and take a walk: “Hurting you is the best way I know to punish myself.” Not okay, not okay NOT OKAY. This is NEVER ACCEPTABLE, EVER, FOR ANYONE TO TELL ANY OTHER PERSON. For a Robin Hood retelling, he was more concerned over what the hell Scarlet was doing than tending to people. Also, he was a weak leader, and others made more decisions than he ever did. He disgusted me.
Bekka: I totally agree and that line put me off of him for a while. I don’t understand the author’s intention with that scene at all. It’s hard to read historical fiction because of the way women were treated then, but at least him looking down on her was realistic. The whole “punishing himself” bit made no sense historically or otherwise.
Lyn: Maybe the character was a victim of writing. Scarlet suffered greatly from her characterization. Bekka, you have a really good point. It was so out of character for him to say that. As a person who has suffered so much at the hands of others, he would not have ever thought this way. It just didn’t fit, at all.
Kara: Yeah, I remember reading that part, but for some reason, it just didn’t connect with me. That said, I completely understand what you two are saying here. It’s such a selfish thing for him to say or feel.
Lyn: Scarlet was overall a poor character herself. I kept waiting for her to be this bad-ass I keep reading about, but all she ever did was continued to be saved by the guys and get all huffy when more people didn’t attack her. It rubbed me the wrong way. She gets her panties in a twist when three people attack Rob, but one person attacks her? Really? That doesn’t make her some warrior princess, it makes her a brat. She is so self-centered, it hurts. Then EVERYBODY either LOVES her or wants to hit her. Seriously, I thought this was fanfiction when I was reading, because this is typical “oh woe is me” devices.
Bekka: I have to disagree here. I totally thought Scarlet was a bad-ass. She broke people out of prison all the time, on her own. She was able to devise plans that broke the entire prison population out of their cells. She had to endure a lot, trying to help those people out of the burning tavern. She also fed the townspeople, clothed them, and taught Much how to use a weapon that would best benefit him with his injury.
Kara: Yeah, I have to agree with Bekka here. She was always the one with the plans and was the complete brains of the operation. She saved people on more than one occasion, and though she had help, she still held her own. My only issue was when that one guy attacked her and she took it. Though I understand her reasons for not fighting back, it still really bothered me.
Lyn: I felt like everyone else was dumbed down to make her look smarter. She could pick out the rich people on the road? She was the BEST? Robin is an EARL. He would have been much better at it. Also, she noticed the destrier on the road? Those things are HUGE, of course they are not farm horses! The entire “making her smarter” was a bit forced.
Kara: I just…see these are the parts I really enjoyed. It felt realistic to me, and though I am not a huge fan of Robin Hood or retellings in general, I REALLY enjoyed the storytelling and the excitement during scenes like this. I rated it a 4 because I did have a few issues with the characterizations, but other than that, frick I loved this book. So I really don’t have anything else to add on that front. I respect your opinion though, Lyn, even though I disagree. Disppointed you didn’t like it though since we usually agree.
Bekka: I think we should address the elephant in the room: the dialect.
Lyn: OH GODS. Yes. Lets. As a dyslexic person, I was so lost and confused, because I thought I was misreading it all, or I wasn’t catching some of the things said. It was a noble attempt to make it more realistic, but it was just wrong.
Bekka: I would have much preferred that Scarlet’s thoughts were normal and she only spoke in dialect. Since it’s not like she doesn’t know how to talk correctly.
Kara: But wouldn’t that have been a spoiler if she didn’t think that way? Or maybe not a spoiler, but a HUGE hint?
Bekka: Honestly? I could see her real identity from ten thousand miles away, but maybe that’s just me.
Kara: Haha, no. I figured that out too, on like page 80. But surprisingly there are some readers who were actually surprised by the twist.
Lyn: I was surprised. I thought it was going in a different direction.
Kara: See? I have to go back and look at the review to see who it was, but I am pretty sure it’s someone we all know. I just was completely unsurprised. It always amazes me to see what different readers figure out and what they don’t.
Lyn: I think I have said my piece. 2 stars for me.
Bekka: I’m not sure – I keep going back and forth between 3 and 4. I really loved the second half, but the first half was just not that great. I’m excited for Lady Thief though. Also, I totally ship Rob and Scar!
Kara: I’m definitely giving it a 4. I just adored this book. Maybe not the characters so much, but the storytelling was superb for me. I loved the writing, the dialect didn’t bother me in the least, and I loved the imagery (I’m a huge visual reader). The tension was superb and gosh some of those scenes were so exciting. And oh shit. The final scenes were SO GOOD. If it weren’t for the issues I mentioned, I would have given it the full rating. But alas, I cannot. Me too, Bekka. I do now.
I should mention that we are reading The Scorpio Races next. I am excited.
Lyn: I’m excited. Bekka, I’m sorry I bashed your pick. I feel really bad.