Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sisters Red (and more about the Bitch list)

Okay, maybe I'm not done talking about the Bitch list--um, Bitch magazine's list of "100 Young Adult Books For the Feminist Reader".

I wrote about this some here, in my review of Living Dead Girl, one of the three books removed from the original list. But I just finished Sisters Red, another book removed from the original list, and I'm all annoyed again. I'm also grateful to Bitch, because I thought this was a wonderful and moving book, and it's probably not one I'd have picked up otherwise because it's about werewolves. I've done a pretty good job of avoiding the whole vampire, zombie, werewolf thing. But this is a great story.

This was the first book to be removed from the Bitch list, based largely, apparently, on a negative review at Book Smugglers blog. It turns out that the compiler of the Bitch list hadn't read Sisters Red, but instead put it on the list based on reviews of the book. She also refers to the book as Sister's Red which makes me very crabby and gives her even less credence.

Anyway, I liked the book a lot. I found the most moving part to be the relationship between the sisters, Scarlett, who is very dedicated to killing werewolves, and Rosie, who is less dedicated but feels hugely indebted to her sister, for understandable reasons: Scarlett saved her life when Rosie was attacked by a werewolf, and Scarlett is permanently scarred and disfigured as a result.

This is a story about growing up, and making up your own mind about who you want to be and what you're going to be, considering all the factors, including what others want or expect of you. It's about loving other people and loving yourself and trying to take care of everyone, which is sometimes--usually--close to impossible to do. Especially when there are werewolves around.

1 comment:

Walter Underwood said...

Sisters Red finally made it to the top of my to-read list, by the accident of being on the shelf when I walked through the YA section of the library.

An interesting book, great for discussion. The prime objection at the Book Smugglers blog seems to come from a shallow reading, blinded by sensitivity. Scarlett sees the dragonfly girls as prey because she sees the whole world as either predator or prey, friend or enemy. She argues that any other viewpoint is immoral once you know the truth about fenris. We know that Scarlett is wrong, but she is so clear and forceful that no one, not even Silas, can argue against her.

As for feminist cred, I think the book fails the opposite of the Bechdel Test. I can't think of two named male characters who talk to each other about something other than a female. And it does pretty well against the Amelia Bloomer Project criteria.

There are small things that are done well, too. The country, the small town, and Atlanta all feel like different, real places. I like that the family of woodsmen feel like more than just woodcutters and carpenters. It is never said, but they seem to have some lore or skill that belongs with the family.