Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

{March 11, 2011}   Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright, David Leslie Johnson, and Catherine Hardwicke (Book vs. Movie)

Synopsis from the dust jacket:  “The bell tolls one, two, three times in the village—someone has been murdered.  It clangs a fourth time… the killer was the Wolf.  In a time when villages are so small that everyone knows everyone else, one girl struggles to find her own was.  Valeria is not a “good girl.”  When the local were-wolf singles her out, Valerie must make an impossible choice.  With a marriage being forced upon her and a true love asking her to run away, Valerie has no one to turn to.  Her father is the town drunk, her mother wants to control her, and the other girls—they quickly turn her in as a witch.  Who will save her?  Or can Valeria save herself?  In this dangerous, riveting new vision of a classic fairy tale, the happy ending may be hard to find.”


This was a hard review to write because the movie and book go hand in hand, and one cannot write an unbiased book review without having viewed the movie, since the novel was written as its companion.  According to Catherine Hardwicke’s introduction in the book, “the characters and their backstories were too complex to fit into the film, so [she] wanted to help create a novel to fully explore the tangled web of emotions in the village of Daggorhorn.”  Hence, without viewing the movie, it is hard to tell whether the novel really served its purpose.  So, I went out to see the movie today. 

Here were my expectations:  As the script for the movie was completed first, I expected that the movie and novel would be identical, with a little more detail in the book.  I also expected the novel to be somewhat bland, since most movies turned books aren’t written very well, and for the movie to be much better.  I was truly worried about reading the book, especially since there is so much bad press about the novel.  However, I highly enjoyed the book!  Well, except for the part where I have to wait until March 14th to read the final chapter, but…  I was enthralled by the story, which loosely ties in with the original fairytale.  Of course, being a fan of the paranormal, I liked this version better—werewolves make everything better!  Though a little bloody and gruesome for my taste, I think Blakley-Cartwright did a decent job fleshing out the original script by Johnson in her novel.  Yet, here is my concern: while Blakely-Cartwright did a great job adding vivid details to the script, I do not believe all of the backstories and emotions were evolved, like the claim.  Technically, I don’t think this took away from the novel too much, as the “here and now” of the story is very well done, but I would have liked some definite answers instead of elusive ones.  For instance, why is there a werewolf plaguing the city in the first place?  And, how did Peter and Valerie’s relationship blossom into full-blown love in one evening?

Having these questions after reading the novel made me wonder how the movie rendition would deal with them.  The answer?  It doesn’t.  In fact, the entire beginning of the novel is cut out in the movie!  All the background information is gone.  There is no answer as to why or how the werewolf exists, or why it plagues the village.  In terms of my query about such a fast-paced love, the movie changes that aspect around and actually does a much better job; it’s no longer an immediate love situation.  Instead, Peter and Valerie are presented as already being in love when the movie begins.  I liked this aspect better because it became more believable, but then the question becomes, why would Blakley-Cartwright change it in the first place?

That being said, I still like the beginning of the novel better than the beginning of the movie.  But, as the story goes on, the movie and the book begin to coincide, which was nice.  It was as if the movie finally pulled itself together.  However, just like any movie, it’s very fast paced and choppy, moving from one scene to the next with little to no explanation.  As I was sitting there watching, I kept wondering what those around me thought, especially if they hadn’t read the book.  I think I would have been a little clueless at points had I not read it first, so I can only imagine what was going through other moviegoers minds.  The movie actually reminded me of the Twilight, of which I was not a fan due to the quick action and lack of detail, but seeing as Catherine Hardwicke directed both, I think that explains it all.

I finally know the ending, but I’m still going to read the final chapter when it comes out because, who knows… it might change?  Seeing as there are vast differences between the novel and the movie, I think there might be a good chance the endings are different too.  One of the differences in the movie actually lends itself to the conclusion of the story.  Since it was not included in the novel, I am wondering where the novel plans to take it.  I was astounded to find out the identity of werewolf really as per the movie, so I am dying to know how the book will conclude.  You can read the final chapter HERE on March 14th.

Overall, my recommendation is this:  watch the movie first, and then read the novel (wait until the final chapter is released).  This way you won’t be as disappointed in the movie, and as you read the novel you will be able to say, “Oh… that makes sense now…”

Two stars for the MOVIE:


Three stars for the NOVEL:


crazygirl123 says:

does anyone know if the will be a second book to Red Riding Hood?because the book was amazing im still not quite for sure if peter is the werewolf or not

I honestly have no idea. I do not believe there will be a sequel, but I haven’t stumbled across any news proving, or disproving, my belief. Sorry.

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