First and foremost I'm really happy to see a book/ movie combo develop in the OPPOSITE direction. This was originally introduced as a screenplay and somewhere along the line people thought it would be cool to have a book-tie in. I'm on board! In fact, Cartwright has written a decent novel to accompany the movie. The two are similar enough to be able to see where the creative process went and different enough where you could see the movie and read more about the setting, background of the characters -- basically get the complete story that movies can't fully present in 1.5 hours. Why only three stars? Well, it's a couple of things:
1) It was insanely confusing for me to follow who was doing the narration. Red Riding Hood isn't from Valerie's perspective or 3 main characters... oh no, it jumps around like a spazmatic monkey who's had too much sugar. I could see where Cartwright was going, but this reader had to focus fully on the book to follow what was going on, who was thinking/ talking, and where the heck I was in the story. Needless to say it was a difficult endeavor in my usually multi=task reading setting.
2) The most common complaint, one that has confused other reviewers and readers has also struck me with it's promotional slip-up. I'm reading the book two-three years AFTER the movie has come out (I don't know when it was printed, but I purchased it new). I've seen the movie, I know the ending SO WHY ARE THEY STILL PRINTING THE OPEN ENDED BOOK? From a cutesy promotional ARC standpoint ooo that sounds fun, but as a printed in time for release and subsequent printings... Not the brightest idea in the whole dang world. Coming from an entertainment background I'm thoroughly aware why the producers left the book open-ended. If the original ending didn't screen well, they usually have a back-up and probably anticipated this. However, it doesn't make sense to leave the book as it is, teasing and directing readers to a website with a "bonus chapter." I can only hope they plan to include this chapter in the next printing of the book.
Despite these two glaring flaws I did enjoy Red Riding Hood. Cartwright is one of those talented authors to describe things as if you could touch or taste them, the words sometimes leaping from the pages. Valerie and the rest of village are exciting and exceedingly more realistic of the time/ vague Scandinavian-esque setting than the movie, which I appreciated. So if you enjoy reinventions of fairytales, a heavy hand of teen romance, mystery, and a splash of suspense I offer Red Riding Hood for the taking. Endure the eye rolling of having to finish the book online and you'll be just fine.