Thursday 9 October 2014

Scarlet Fever

Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson (Hot Key Books)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 978-1-4714-0304-0
Reviewed by Jacque Duffy
Maureen Johnson’s writing style is easy to read, looks effortless, and has a certain appeal. Scarlett Fever is a sequel to Suite Scarlett. Having not read the first, I wondered if I would miss something, happily no, Scarlett Fever is a standalone. The characters arrive fully formed.

At first, I liked Scarlett’s friends more than I liked her. It is difficult to like a stalker, especially when they know they are a stalker. Once Scarlett stopped whining, cut back on her stalking, and used her wit, she shone like a Broadway Star.

Max, the anti-hero, would have to be my favorite character and I wanted to see more of him on the page. I am certain Max will feature in the next instalment as the ending (did I say ending?) was left open to interpretation (and possible book throwing). What will Scarlett do? Will she revert to her earlier patheticness and fall into the arms of her wayward Broadway Star kind of ex- boyfriend (stalker victim), or will she have the spine Mrs Amberson her Broadway Agent boss believes she has and chase down the more deserving and incredibly talented Max?

There are many characters in this story and each, including the borrowed dog Murray, was endearingly flawed, especially the younger sister Marlene. She had unlikableness incomparable to any other young child I’ve read, Maureen Johnson certainly made her come alive in a thank goodness I don’t know this kid way.

Interaction between the characters propels the story along especially in the last 2/3’s making you want to turn pages. Before that, it is mostly Scarlett whining and stalking, I wanted to slap her. She did win me over in a big way though, and perhaps the rather sad introduction was required for the reader to finally share her Ah Ha moment.

To me, the book had the same feel as Confessions of a Shopaholic, one of my favorites.

Maureen Johnson is a New York Times best-selling author of ten novels and has was selected to represent the YA category for World Book Day 2014 with the short story The Boy in the Smoke.

Jacque Duffy is the author and illustrator of picture book The Bear Said Please and the series ‘That’s not a …” learn to read books used in all Queensland State Primary Schools and one local history coffee table book.

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