Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Review: As Red as Blood, by Salla Simukka

Do not go into As Red as Blood thinking it's a Snow White retelling. There's very little to connect this book to the fairy tale. However, it is an interesting book.

Lumikki, a teenager in Finland, attends a prestigious school and lives by herself in a studio apartment, having left her parents. She walks into the school darkroom and discovers a LOT of money hanging from the lines drying. She figures out who comes to pick up the money and follows him. This is the beginning of a big adventure for Lumikki and three other teens as they try to figure out where this money came from and why it was covered in blood. Well, actually it's an adventure for Lumikki and Elisa. The two boys do nothing except play video games and act like the whole thing is no big deal.

The plot of As Red as Blood kept me engaged, although parts were a bit far-fetched for me. This is supposed to be a YA novel, but at times Lumikki seemed like an adult -- although the other kids seemed like teens or even younger. There is enough tension and anticipation to make you want to find out how it all ends. And Lumikki does dress up like Snow White, so I guess that's why the series title is The Snow White Trilogy.

It's Lumikki that is the problem for me. I just didn't connect with her as a character. I felt detached much of the time. We get details of her past a bit at a time and then in a big info dump right at the end of the book, and I felt like this should have been more of the story. Her troubled past didn't seem to connect to the present, it didn't have the impact that it should have, and I couldn't get emotional about her predicament. The books is a translation, so maybe that's why the story didn't seem to flow smoothly.

She is tough. And brave. And As Red as Blood definitely has closure, even though it's the first book int a trilogy. I assume Lumikki will get into totally different situations in the next books. As Red as Blood has been compared to Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, and I can see why. But the Larsson's books have much more complex plots and better characterizations. (They are also much longer and written for adults.) Other books in this series are As White as Snow, (March 2015) and As Black as Ebony.

For teens who like troubled, mysterious female protagonists who are trying to save the world, As Red as Blood might be the book for them.

Published by Skyscape, August 1, 2014
eBook obtained from School Library Journal
272 pages

Rating: 3/5

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