Title: The Girl in Red
Author: Christina Henry
From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a postapocalyptic take on the perennial classic “Little Red Riding Hood”…about a woman who isn’t as defenseless as she seems.
It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.
There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined.
Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods….
I’m a sucker for fairy tale re-tellings, and Little Red Riding Hood is no exception.
The Girl in Red follows Delia, aka Red, as she makes her way through a post-apocalyptic landscape to her grandmother’s house with nothing but her paranoia and knowledge of science fiction/disaster movies and books to get her through. It’s impossible not to root for her throughout, even as she fights with her family to get them to understand the severity of the situation.
The story starts with her traveling alone, doing her best to survive, and switches to flashbacks in intermittent chapters that give us her background – how the epidemic first arose, and how she found herself alone. For me, those flashback portions were the most interesting, and gave us the best insight into her character. In the present, she spends most of her time alone. This makes it feel like two separate tales – a Hatchet-like survival story and the beginnings of the apocalypse. Either way it’s an immersive adventure that’s hard to put down. And, like the best apocalypse stories, it makes a point of showing that the scariest part of that scenario isn’t the monsters or the plague, but our fellow human beings. The Girl in Red doesn’t shy away from tough topics, especially in how it deals with Red’s race. Some might consider it a bit preachy, but in my opinion it’s very realistic. Despite that, though, it also makes a point of showing that people will also always help each other, too, and has a more hopeful tone overall.
My only complaint is how abrupt the end is. Just as Red, and the reader, begins to figure out what’s *really* going on, the story just stops. I understand the point the writer was trying to make – Red just wants to accomplish her goal, she doesn’t care to get caught up in a larger story, has no interested in being a Chosen One – but it still left me wanting more.
If you’re a fan of post-apocalypse stories and enjoy a good survival tale, definitely pick this one up!