DRC: Chasing Red by Isabelle Ronin

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3 stars

A Wattpad phenomenon, Chasing Red, is a college love story that’s garnered over 130 million reads online. It revolves around the romance between Caleb, rich college playboy, and Veronica, a gorgeous college student who is left homeless.

Caleb offers Veronica a place to stay until she gets back on her feet because he’s intensely drawn to her, and he’s starting to have strong feelings he’s never experienced before. But winning Veronica’s heart is not as easy as he may think.

Read the official summary here.

I actually first read this book on Wattpad before requesting the published version to read and review on NetGalley. (You can still read it online on Wattpad free here.)

I’ve changed very much as a person from the time I first read it to now. Before, I would have probably given this 5 stars, but a lot of my views and preferences have changed since then.

This is primarily a new-adult romance, which is why it’s definitely not as much of my alley as a YA sci fi, for example. It centers around the romance of Veronica and Caleb.

My favorite part of this novel was the passion between the characters. It’s definitely the part of the story I found executed the best–the characters managed to have a delicious chemistry without an actual sex scene happening.

But, there were a lot of things that irked me that didn’t annoy me before.

Although the plot and pacing were done well–despite the large number of pages, I was still able to read through it quickly–I found the sheer number of clichés to be almost too overwhelming.

I don’t mind clichés; I’m a sucker for particular ones (movie star boyfriends? yes please! popular girl and good boy? be still my beating heart!). But this had quite a lot of the more common clichés done in a predictable manner. I could pick out what was going to happen (the first time I read it, mind you) because I had read dozens of books just like it on Wattpad before.

Popular boy falls for pretty girl (cliché #1) and she moves in with him (cliché #2) and they fall in love–but wait! Jealous ex-girlfriend comes to play (cliché 3) and then there’s more problems for the star crossed lovers.

A lot of the times I have to search through my Wattpad library when I read books like this to check that the book I was reading wasn’t plagiarized off of someone else just because of how similar the plots are.

I wanted something more than this–what happens if the pretty girl has ulterior motives, like stealing from the popular boy? Or if the popular boy was actually a terrible person and the girl learns she better off without him? Something besides the usual.

This leads me into my next point. Because of all the clichés, I felt like Ronin didn’t effectively use foreshadowing as well as she could have.

Around 200 pages (halfway) in, we’re suddenly introduced with a couple of chapters of foreshadowing about the new plotline: jealous ex-girlfriend.

This book was originally written as serial fiction, which makes it understandable that foreshadowing is considerably harder. But I felt like during editing more hints should have been added near the beginning.

This sub plot kind of jumped at us like a jack-in-the-box, coming out of only a few chapters of hints.

Because Sourcebooks decided to split the original novel into two books (Chasing Red & Always Red), the jealous ex-girlfriend plot hadn’t been resolved yet. Likewise, the story ended somewhat awkwardly as the next book would pick up right where the first left off.

In the same highway as foreshadowing, I found Ronin’s occasional (2 or 3 times) use of points of views other than the main characters Veronica and Caleb to be unnecessary.

If Ronin effectively utilized foreshadowing, I think the information that was blatantly conveyed in the alternate POV chapters (the ex girlfriend once and smarmy guy twice) could have been told in Veronica and Caleb’s POV.

I think the under usage of foreshadowing was one of this novel’s greatest pitfalls.

From time to time, I did get a little frustrated at the plot and the characters’ decisions that led them to come to nearly meaningless arguments. Communication is important in relationships and the chemistry between Caleb and Veronica wasn’t enough to stop me from getting annoyed at them sometimes.

I’m also a little confused on the justification of why they like each other. It seems to me a stranger offering someone a place to stay, even if you know who they are, is a little sketchy. I wouldn’t have taken up on the offer and I do find Caleb’s motivations somewhat questionable.

Veronica tries to be an independent woman by doing some stuff, but Caleb undermines this at the same time. The balance between the two of them and the give-take between them was a little foggy for me and I wasn’t a huge fan of it, unsure if Veronica did or didn’t want to be more independent.

The last idea I wanted to talk about was the actual premise of the book. It’s a very cliché novel, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but when you look at the amazing novels about POC and touching on deep, meaningful ideas, it makes me somewhat sad to see another heterosexual white romance when another story could have been told.

People are allowed to write about whatever they want, but I feel like I would have enjoyed this much more if it wasn’t purely a romance about Veronica and Caleb and had other deeper themes–even if it wasn’t about being a POC, it could have been part of a myriad of other social issues.

So although Chasing Red is a somewhat superficial novel, it is enjoyable if you’re looking to read a passionate, fast-paced romance.

You can buy both Chasing Red and Always Red at any major bookseller now!

much love, vicky

Have you read Chasing Red? What did you think?

Thank you to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!

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