Rose Sees Red by Cecil Castellucci

by Kat Alexander

There are certain things Rose has learned living next to the Soviet compound in the Bronx, New York, in 1983. How to tell the KGB from the CIA, for instance (it’s all in the eyebrows). Also, that world powers can act an awful lot like children.

Not that Rose cares all that much. Tagging the suits as KGB or CIA is fun, as is watching Yrena, the Russian girl next door. But Rose has other things to worry about: school at the Performing Arts Academy, avoiding former best friend Daisy, et cetra.

Rose sees the world right now as being black–no friends, no hope, and the Cold War raging on.

Nothing like a night on the town with people she barely knows to bring some color into it, eh?

Out of the one-nighter sort of books I’ve read, I think this one may be my favorite. I adore Rose. I adore her frankness, I adore her real-ness, I adore the way that she cares about the Cold War without being an international affairs buff. I adore her friends. I love Caleb to death. The characters as a whole are original, real, and refreshing–people I’d want to spend time with.

Not to say they’re all nice people, of course. There’s got to be someone awful and nasty. Daisy, in the case of Rose Sees Red. Still, while she’s mean and nasty and all, she still brings something to the table–she evokes memories of mean and nasty people I’ve met, and presents some interesting challenges for Rose herself.

The tale itself is gripping. There’s a decent amount of set-up time before the story takes off, but it’s nothing terribly long and once it really got going, I could hardly put the book down. Set in 1983, it’s still relevant to now, and easily relatable. After all,it’s not like the Cold War was really that long ago, even if, well, at least four countries that existed at the time are no longer. Maybe the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1990, but teenagers didn’t.

Nicely crafted, great characters, great story, and pretty short. Overall, a pretty good book.

Kat Alexander is a Figment Reviewer who (clearly) loves to read and comment. She’s active on a number of sites including NaNo, Fiction Press, and FanFiction under aneko24.

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