Review: Red at Night by Katie McGarry

Review

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Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 84
Series: Pushing the Limits #3.5

Novella CAN be read as a Standalone.

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2 Stars

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Red at Night is a novella that follows Stella and Jonah. Stella is a loner who hangs out at the cemetery while Jonah was part of the popular crowd until an accident leads him to meet Stella at the cemetery. They start to hand out and even though they’re different and Stella has spent her life being mocked by Jonah’s best friend, she can’t help but like him.

And that’s the summary of a novel that accidentally got turned into a novella by cutting out all the character building moments, emotional moments and moments that explain and resolve things.

You see, novella’s aren’t easy, especially for authors who only write full-length novels. To write a good novella, you must have a story that you know you can properly execute in less than 40,000 words and then actually do it. And introducing characters, letting them get to know each other and develop feeling naturally, introducing a conflict, and resolving the story properly… it takes a lot of effort to fit that in a novella. And Katie McGarry, unfortunately, couldn’t do it.

The author wanted to have two protagonists, a jackass best friend, a sister, a guardian, a counselor, parents and other friends. I’m sorry, but that’s too many characters and not enough time.

The characters were either generic or undeveloped because there wasn’t enough time, the plot was weak because there wasn’t enough time for a strong one, the relationship was more about physical attraction and instant connections because an emotion one would need more time, the conflict was very rushed because… well, you get the point.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that most of the problems in this novella could have been solved had the author chosen a simpler plot or just written a novel. Because what we got didn’t always make sense.

And then there were the pointless things…

There was no need to add Jonah’s sister into the mix, Stella’s dad didn’t need to be there, the house party was a waste and so was the reporter and I still don’t get the purple hair. If all this had been removed, maybe we would’ve had a better romance, better characters and a better reason as to why Jonah felt guilty and why Stella hangs out with dead people.

The writing was okay and I can see what message the author was trying to convey. She wanted to address how you shouldn’t just turn a blind eye when someone does something wrong; that you should speak up. But the thing that Jonah didn’t “speak up” against was name-calling. It’s hard to take that seriously.

I mean, there was a guy in my class in fifth standard who made up a rhyme to make fun of my name. And do you know what my reaction was? An eye-roll. Similarly, if someone asked me if I got my clothes from Goodwill, I would say something like, ‘No, your mother lent them to me‘. I would not cry about it.

Overall, everything about this novella was about keeping things short and uncomplicated which made it lack authenticity and emotion. I will check out other books by this author but I recommend skipping this one.

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