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YA Review: Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold (CYBILS finalist)

Title: Red Hood

Author: Elana K. Arnold

Year Published: 2020

Category: YA fiction (speculative)
Pages: 368
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map)USA (WA) and Canada

FTC Disclosure: I was given a free copy by the publisher for a fair review

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): You are alone in the woods, seen only by the unblinking yellow moon. Your hands are empty. You are nearly naked. And the wolf is angry.

Since her grandmother became her caretaker when she was four years old, Bisou Martel has lived a quiet life in a little house in Seattle. She’s kept mostly to herself. She’s been good.

But then comes the night of homecoming, when she finds herself running for her life over roots and between trees, a fury of claws and teeth behind her.

A wolf attacks. Bisou fights back. A new moon rises. And with it, questions.

About the blood in Bisou’s past, and on her hands as she stumbles home.

About broken boys and vicious wolves.

About girls lost in the woods—frightened, but not alone.

Review: This book was a finalist for the CYBILS Awards so I read it as a round 2 judge.

A retelling of Red Riding Hood sounded interesting to me. I have read a few other historical versions of the tale and they are all so different and much more gory so I wasn't sure what to expect with this one. The author has really tapped into the concept of red riding hood symbolizing menstruation, which is a common theme in the older versions of this story that I've read.

This novel was okay for me, but not great. It is a fast read and one that I can see doing well with high school students. It's got romance, family, drama, friendship, and secrets. Lots of secrets. I like that it's set in current times, which will make it appeal even more to YA readers as they can relate to the characters and their experiences in high school, etc. 

I also liked the relationship between Bisou and her grandmother as well as the friendship that Bisou forms with Maggie and Keisha. However, a lot of it felt surface and I wish we got to know them more and at a deeper level. 

So, it turns out I had previously read a book by this author, What Girls Are Made Of, and I felt about it the same that I felt about this one.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • A to Z--"R"
  • Diversity--one of the main friends is black
  • Literary Escapes--USA (Washington) and Canada
  • Popsugar--a free book on my TBR pile (I got this one from the publisher)

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